I’ve never been one to hide the fact that I’m very snobby when it comes to Death Metal and Brutal Death Metal in particular. You simply need to be armed with a healthy dose of prejudice in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, especially since this particular subset of the genre seems to be more infested with no-hope sound-a-likes than most. I’m quite familiar with Chicago’s FLESHGRIND, and while their ’97 debut “Destined For Defilement” was your typical by-the-numbers DM this sophomore effort is literally an improvement on all fronts, and easily one of the better albums in this style.
The aspect I appreciate the most about this album is the absolute pureness of it all. Firstly, the band never dabbles with Grind (as so many others in this field do). The focus remains firmly on mid to fast ground ‘n pound Death Metal. Secondly, not a single sample is found anywhere on the album (another pitfall they wisely avoided), and, finally, the drummer actually uses more Thrash-like double-bass beats as opposed to the almost mechanical blastbeating that has become synonymous with the style. It gives the songs a vibrant propulsive drive that, together with the tight yet varied riff work, gives the album a more dynamic vibe than what one would normally expect. Rich Lipscomb’s vocals are also a joy to behold – as brutally guttural as they come but with just a trace of the late Chuck Schuldiner’s higher pitch at the tail end of every growl. Just listen to “Monarch Of Misery”, a killer track where all these mentioned elements gel into a great Death Metal anthem of sorts. Elsewhere you also have the slightly groovier “Desire For Control” and the CANNIBAL CORPSE-like “Destroying Your Will”, and the no-nonsense assault of “Hogtied And Hatefucked” to sink your teeth into. They immediately score one extra point for that delicious song title. “The Deviating Ceremonies” is also a standout, thanks in no small part to its nifty use of a surprisingly epic almost Black Metal melody that is effectively married with the more straightforward Death Metal riffing.
These rather playful instances may be scant at best – the modus operandi is Brutal Death after all – but they add a much appreciated sense of variety to proceedings. Apart from the slightly questionable production job that places the guitars a bit too high in the mix this album is pretty much solid all the way through. The band managed to put out one final album (“Murder Without End”) before abruptly splitting up. A shame, since these latter albums prove they were definitely a band on to something. RIP.
(Online February 13, 2010)