I had exceptionally high hopes for the second full length album from Christian metalcore act, A Plea For Purging, as I really enjoyed 2007s A Critique of Mind and Thought as it delivered some Woe of Tyrants and The Showdown – like levels of shred and melodic death metal mixed with intelligent Christian themes.
However, I knew from the cover that something was up with the follow up (I generally am suspicious of album covers featuring the band); and I was right. The conceptual Depravity seems to have shed the feel good cheesy shredding of the debut (maybe the departure of guitarist Lyle Paschal had some impact on the writing?) album in favor of a darker, more brooding, controlled, simplistic and stripped down tone.
You can take the development in two ways; as a positive and that the band has matured and simply moved on from the wind in the hair, noodling and decided to take on a far more serious and antagonistic musical approach to their themes. Or as a negative and now the band sounds more like all of the other rumbling, lurching Christian hardcore bands out there. I tend to lie somewhere right in the middle.
There are few shredding moments and solos littered along the sturdy controlled gait (“Malevolence”, “Motives”, “Prevaricator”, “Reputation” and “Traitor”- the album’s only full on throw back to the debut albums pace) on Depravity. However, they are few and far between compared to the energetic debut and they are far more reined in and gloss a heftier, far more menacing, steady, angular lurch akin to say A Life Once Lost’s Hunter mixed with label mates The Great Commission and the new Impending Doom rather than high octane galloping. After the intro, “Retribution” exemplifies the new direction and pretty much sets the template for following heavy, but interchangeable tracks like “Holocausts”, “Devourer”, the discordant lurch of “Misanthropy” and epic “Depravity”.
Of note is the underlying recurring riff and theme of the album that surfaces for the intro “Descension”, Devourer” and the closing title track; a barren, almost depressing undercurrent climaxing in a sort of prayer that almost sounds like vocalist Andrew Atkins is turning his back on God, for example; “I’m clinging loosely to prayers that lately I feel as if are falling on deaf ears. Where are you? Where are you as my faith waivers?…. Why won’t you answer me?.. The world you once freed me from now crushes me under its heel. The flesh and spirit you once cleansed is now crawling, festering, rotting from the inside. Numb to your touch, closed off, I feel alone and overlooked. I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way back…”. Powerful stuff. So much so, that it actually brought a devout Christian friend of mine (who is questioning her own faith due to personal struggles and life’s harsh hand dealt to her and her family), to tears (and that’s just an excerpt).
Still, as an album I’m slightly disappointed in Depravity, not because it’s a bad album, as after a few listens its depth and heft becomes apparent, but so does its repetition and lack of positive energy that was so prevalent in the debut.[Visit the band's website]