Wound Collector - Depravity

At first glance, Wound Collector may just seem like a typical brutal death metal band. This Belgium group actually has quite a few surprises in store with their second full length, "Depravity", inflicting their own style of progressive death metal that touches on all sorts of sub genres, from tech death to jazz. Some might feel they are in store for an Opeth meets Rivers Of Nihil imitator but Wound Collector do their best to stay away from that while still retaining hints of those groups to get listeners enticed. The vibe of the whole album is very ‘old school’ which will appeal to fans of old Deicide or Dismember, but to really enjoy the progressive side one has to sit through the tracks that are on ‘Depravity’ as an entirety.

Vocally and instrumentally, the haze of atmosphere with the muddled production may throw listeners off as usually the expectation of a prog album is for it to be very clean. Of course, with this haze comes an extra level of filth and brutality that would makes old school fans of any genre pretty happy. The opening track 'Death By Guillotine' has very simple, raw riffs that plod along with the drums, but the biggest surprise is the saxophone. Not typically used unless one is Ihsahn or Rivers of Nihil, this progressive instrument is the first big point of interest for newcomers to Wound Collector. Unfortunately on this first track, they don’t really showcase it well as it tends to play the same repetitive notes over and over every few seconds, but it is still such an anomaly that one can’t help but be interested. The sax’s tone is flat but somehow enhances the chugging death metal overall and makes the sound more dynamic, though without it- especially towards the middle- the drums can definitely be heard on a more technical level. Other tracks like 'Seduced Into Depravity' demonstrate the sax effect much better and with a lot more life. It seems a little more restrained at times but during its solo moments it really shines, which fleshes out the unique sound that Wound Collector tries to present. The overall track is also one of the fastest for death metal and would certainly appeal to fans who like the more ferocious groups like Archspire.

Vocally, the band tends to stick with the typical death growl that is akin to old Deicide meets Suffocation. On a track like 'In Flanders Fields' they seem a little muddled behind the music, but at the same time are very clear while not taking away from the ‘old school’ effect. The more drawn out riffs tend to slow the song down so it doesn’t feel as fast, which also gives room for the sax to really showcase some of its better notes (in fact the sax solos here are probably the best the album has to offer). "Depravity" also sheds the layer of mediocrity by mixing in some clean vocal work as well to enhance the more progressive side of the music. Tracks like 'War And Slaughter' feature a few moments of clean singing that seems a little off base, maybe because it is such a surprise among the heavier tone of the album, but it works to great effect. And to follow up with the drum and sax bits is pretty impressive. 'Inherit The Crown' does a better job at showcasing the clean vocals, even if they are just at the end of the track. Mostly instrumental, the mix of crushing riffs, sax melodies, and even the ‘quiet’ moments of the track with the acoustic guitar make it very progressive and a huge stand out listen on the album and the epitome of Wound Collector’s sound. Just listen to the opening and suddenly the whole prog side is very clear as opposed the typical thundering death metal they open with.

Ultimately, the make or break factor on "Depravity" is going to be if one likes sax or hates sax. Unlike some of the more well-known prog death metal groups who use the instrument on one or two tracks, Wound Collector REALLY make heavy use of it by skipping subtlety and just blaring it loud and clear to the listener. Some might find this impressive while others can get really annoyed. The only real downside to this is while the use of sax is present, the band either uses it to go along with the solo moments of the album or intermittent jump-in moments along with the more gritty riffs to try and lighten the mood, and about halfway into the album it can get a little repetitive. Kind of like a melo death band who over uses keyboards to get their ‘ melodic side’ across while relying on the guitars and vocals to stay heavy. However, despite this the group really has something going for them with their overall album tone that is fresh in the metal world and has great bridge between ‘new school’ and ‘old school.’ Fans of prog death with a little oddness to their sound will really appreciate what Wound Collector have done here on their second release.

4 / 5 STARS 


1. Death By Guillotine
2. War And Slaughter In Your Holy Name
3. No God Without Terror
4. Seduced Into Depravity
5. Inherit The Crown
6. In Flanders Field
7. Execution in Chaos
8. Royalty Achieved By War
9. The Merovingian Defeat

Self released
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
May 20, 2020

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