III: Odor Mortis

I, like I’m sure many of you reading this, LOVE beer. I brew my own beer. I love visiting new breweries and talking with brewers about their craft. I’m all for brewers trying new techniques and experimenting with different ingredients. That being said, it’s also very easy for brewers to just go too fucking far.

You can find, with surprisingly relative ease, plenty of brewers offering a dill pickle beer. You can find beer fermented with yeast harvested from a dude’s beard. There’s a beer brewed with fucking roasted bull testicles. It’s too much. It’s a goddamn abomination.

BUT, fusing together styles and ingredients and techniques can also go REALLY well. A coffee stout with cocoa nibs? Yes please. A pilsner with black tea and lemongrass? Kinda weird, but fucking lovely. Pro tip: This summer, make your own German Radler by combining your favorite light beer with lemon-lime or grapefruit soda. It’s refreshing as fuck and absolutely delicious.

The point is, when mixing styles and ingredients goes right? Oh, is it sweet. And Germany’s Depravation have got it so, so right.

III: Odor Mortis is, as you’d obviously expect, the band’s second full length release (who says Germans have no sense of humor?), and it’s a venerable smorgasbord of metal stylings. Heaping, mold-ridden helpings of old school death metal, a generous portion of seething black metal, a nice slab of doom and gloom to provide an extra feeling of dread and woe, with a healthy dash of crust thrown in the mix to give everything a raw, spit-in-your-face edge.

Lesser artists might have a hard time trying to weave all these elements together into something cohesive, but these guys pull it off in spades. The album opens with the monstrous “Casting Fear,” deftly weaving between black metal murk and cavernous death metal that combines to create a really deep, foreboding and unsettling kind of atmosphere – pulling off a similar trick to Lovecraft-obsessed countrymates Sulphur Aeon.

“Misery” and “Beug Dich” exposes the band’s grittier crust underbelly, spicing things up a bit with a more urgent, upbeat edge, the latter boasting a rare, but really fun group chant that begs your participation and gets your head banging and face grinning. The tracks give the frenetic energy of Dödsrit or Disfear while still maintaining a sort of density that keeps things planted more firmly in the realm of death metal.

But it’s not all balls-to-the-wall chaos. “Sickness” and “The Endless Night” instead slow things down to doomy, Dirt Forge-ian heft that serve nicely to break up the pace a bit, giving the overall record a bit more gravity and atmosphere. Album closer “Nothingness,” REALLY leans into the doomy side of things, to a bit of a fault. It’s a sprawling, ethereal track consisting mostly of monastic, almost chant-like vocals that probably goes on for about 3 or 4 minutes too long. If shorter, this could have served as a kind of creepy, atmospheric intermission somewhere in the middle of the album, but as a closer? I dunno, it’s kinda falls flat for me.

Beer is a serious business with Germans – to the point that the country even has a “purity law” that forbids brewers from using anything besides the 4 basic ingredients of beer – hops, barley, water and yeast – to brew their creations. That might seem extremely limiting, but with those 4 ingredients, the Germans have amassed over 5,000 individual breweries boasting a huge variety of unique styles and trademarks. Maybe that speaks to why Depravation has brewed up something so special here – while they’ve created a unique and satisfying sound by combining a handful of different, albeit familiar ingredients, they haven’t gone off the fucking rails. No bull plums to be found here – just proven stuff that has been smoothly blended into something all it’s own. One of my favorites of 2020, so far.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
April 9th, 2020


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