Cheering Up the Lepers
CoC interrogates Roman Spatny of Depresy
by: Alvin Wee
It's hard to imagine any metal band from the former Czechoslovakia not sounding like Root, Torr, Amon Goeth or Master's Hammer. But as Roman, axe-wielder and frontman of Slovakia's brightest jewel, flatly denies, "None of the bands you mentioned influenced us in any way. We are walking the way we chose from the very beginning of our establishment, and it is true that in Slovakia there is no other band producing a similar style to that of ours."

While that may sound presumptuous, it's undeniable that Depresy's virtuostic blend of highly melodic Gothenburg harmonies and traditional death-stylings on _A Grand Magnificence_ [CoC #32], their latest opus, appears unique among other bands from the region, like Krabathor and Azathoth. It's also disappointing that, despite boasting blazing leads, razor-sharp hooks and irreproachable tightness, the album doesn't seem to be receiving the exposure outside the underground it deserves. While other neo-Gothenburg clones eclipse legends like Eucharist, and seasoned vets like In Flames are steadily declining into radio-heaven, Depresy's boldness, aggression and pure emotion bring to mind the days when Dark Tranquillity still had the raw passion and feeling of truly underground genius. The bonus MC tracks (which, incidentally, make up most of the CD) hint at a much heavier, more aggressive past, though, but at the slightest suggestion of Depresy wimping out into yet another sweet, radio-friendly "Goth-metal" band the way many others are, Roman stoutly retorts, "First, I don't think our production is somehow soft. We are children of darkness, walking the infinite kingdom of sadness where death gives immortality. That's what our music is about. But there is something I agree with you. It's true that the Swedish scene finds expression not typical for death bands from these regions, but it doesn't mean that they are bad. There cannot exist gentle and unexpressive metal, just because it's metal, and I think you shouldn't be forgetting other bands besides Swedish ones. There is also Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, Pyrexia, Mortician, Morbid Angel, Deicide and so on."

Despite the remarkable success of their 1996 cassette-only release, _...And There Came the Tears With Christ_, selling well over a thousand copies, the band developed, gaining in melody and maturity, even as their bassist left the band for good. But why the progression from an already rewarding formula? "It is natural", explains Roman patiently. "The more interested you are in some activity, the more experienced you become. All former skills help us to progress. After we realize we have nothing more to say, we'll quit. With the increasing number of years [playing], however, we are getting stronger and so that time is still far away."

With the reception they had in the underground, it isn't surprising to find the band still immensely proud of their previous material. "There were a lot of people who were interested in the CD version and when this possibility appeared, we agreed with it", elaborates Roman on the reason for including the bonus MC tracks on the otherwise too short CD. "It is definitely the best way of presenting the material to people abroad as well, because there is a rising number of those who are not respecting bands that only present on MC", he adds intently.

My sentiments exactly. Many cassette-only bands, regardless of quality, stay that way in the underground, because try as we might, we just can't resist the look of a gleaming silver disc. Add to that the relatively isolated status of a scene like Slovakia's and it's a wonder how Depresy have managed to come so far since their inception in 1991. "In the beginning, we did not think about asserting [ourselves]. We got together mainly because of our need for musical expression. We did everything for music. The fact that our work has interested people is a secondary product. A small amount of our releases spread over and people started to know the name Depresy. We know many bands have succeeded because they had good promotion, but we never looked at promotion from that point of view and that is maybe why we don't feel any problems regarding asserting [ourselves]. We are a band that has its origin in underground music and in this style we will stay forever. I like the way things work in underground music and I am happy with the pretty strong base we have established in our country."

A large contributing factor to their reasonable success must have been the numerous tours they've done so far. "We have been going on tours since the start. We did about 100 to 120 tours in our countries so far. We haven't played a bad tour yet." At my suggestion of playing with bigger names like In Flames or Sentenced for exposure, Roman retorts: "We don't plan any bigger tours in the near future, for it demands a lot of money and nowadays people are lazy anyway; they'd rather stay at home and listen to their CDs comfortably. We never differentiated the importance of tours. From this point of view every tour is important to us and we don't care where we play and with whom we play. We always try to play our best."

Readers interested in obtaining all 51 minutes of _A Grand Magnificence_ on CD (it's highly recommended, by the way) can drop a line (and $1O) to: Shindy Productions, Sadova 17, 679 04 Adamov, Czech Republic.

(article submitted 12/10/1999)


ALBUMS
7/8/1998 P Azevedo 8 Depresy - A Grand Magnificence
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