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Flagg – Nothing But Death

Nothing But Death
by Aurora Kuczek at 20 July 2020, 9:07 PM

Hailing from Finland come forth the Black Metal band, FLAGG. The project formed in 2018, but their first album entitled, “Nothing But Death,” was released June of this year. The album is a curious formulation of various instrumental techniques. Though their ideas surface, they are not developed enough so as to rise from the water and walk onto the land. Uniformity throughout the piece is significantly lost, and a listener will struggle to grasp the project’s uniqueness due to the unoriginality and uncomplexity of their scale combinations. FLAGG has curated something that in its essence is intriguing, yet their off-beat drums, poor sound quality, and abrupt changes within a track allow for the listeners to be misled by the project’s ideals. Nevertheless, this is their first release, and it is with hope that the project takes down the moon and reformats it into something that clarifies the atmosphere.

Destroy, Desecrate” begins the tale as cymbals crash and the drums beat momentously. The guitars are higher tuned, exhibiting an ethereal quality. The sounds resemble that of middle eastern scales. Though not concrete to begin with, the music reformulates in a fast paced rhythm of harsh screams. Drums dominate this portion of the track but they seem as an entity of their own, not corresponding to the floating guitars. The tune breakdowns where the guitar tremolo picks alone on a few notes. The track aims to create a majestic undertone, but there are few layers that allow it to do so, with poor recording of their instruments. It feels as though a part is missing to the album

Nothing But Death” introduces with high pitch screams that haphazardly blend into the rumble of noises. Guitars tremolo pick, but they seem to have no chorus. A horn or synth is quietly heard but is mixed within the strangeness of the piece. The drums’ notes are not symmetrical as in some are hit harder than others in areas where this does not need to occur. The guitars come forth with the bass with a synth underlying it. It harmonizes with each other, though there seem to be instrumental layers that are tragically missing, similar to the other track. As the guitar tremolo picks a riff, it sounds as though it is produced at a much higher frequency or is louder than the other layers of instruments. This makes it have an uncomfortable dissonance or static within the piece. This is their poorest track.

Dark Clouds Gathering” climbs the first few notes of the minor scale of the guitar. The voice immerses itself into this, with the drums casually beating. It seems as though the sounds are trying their hardest to be ancestrally empowered, yet are lacking the necessary components to make this occur. There is an underlying ambience, but I am not quite sure if this is from the recording or a synth added within it—either direction, it fails to fit accordingly. There is an extremely abrupt stop, and an organ-like synth-whisper comes forth.  This eventually evolves back into the ideas first introduced. While nothing seems to fit in harmony, their underlying layers of synths seem more fascinatingly energized than the guitars or voice.

In “Burning Sky,” guitars introduce the start of the piece with singular notes, and it seems as though the project has abandoned its ideas they first had. The drums beat at uneven melodies as if the arms got tired and dulled a bit. A tremolo picking occurs in a childlike manner, and this idea does not cease for the rest of the song. The horn-like synth is evaporated and I am left to wonder what the meaning of the album aims to be.

Guitars begin the unjustifiable rhythm in “Abomination.” A voice comes forth between this, but similar to the previous tracks, it is not as confident as it should be. I wish that FLAGG had more power or confidence. The drums are harsher than the rest of the piece, and beat waveringly. There is a breakdown and the tones exhibit more of a personality, though it is uncertain as to where the track renders itself to be in combination with the previous tracks. Abrupt stops and starts allows the track to be intolerable. Guitars continue the melodic nature of the piece until it ends with a choking scream.

In “Apex Predator,” shooting drums beat through the disoriented land, yet seem to be on time despite its quickness. The track is typical of the genre, and chaos surfaces through the midst of decay. The melody changes its tune to a higher scale, and this blends quite well. Though the dissonance of the entropy is strong, there are portions of the track that explicates their personality in a refined fashion than it had before. The guitars harmonize towards the end and the rhythm anguishes the listener as it is continuously repeated. Despite the frequent errors, it could be considered their strongest track thus far.

Sixth Sun Salvation” begins in an atmospheric sense with its drumming pattern and vocal structure. As the track defies this in their groaning chaos, the guitars are hidden underneath the pain of the beats. There are odd shifts to various combinations of guitar riffs, and these are not smoothly blended. This track has complex structural issues.

With a tremolo picking riff of poorly situated notes, “Last Breath Drawn” starts with the similar distorted boundary the project has created. As the track breaks down, there is a synth that is questionable for its purpose, but is pleasurable to the ear. This continues through the song underlying various portions of the track. The track’s personality gains a deeper sense as the song progresses and synthetic layers are added within. The song’s melody is memorable, but this is deformed when the notes move towards disarray once more. If cleaned up and further developed, it would have served as a distinguished piece.

FLAGG’s “Nothing But Death” is an engaging piece of work rooted in darkened sounds and entropic atmospheres. The album is an eclectic combination of strange words and sharp rhythms to which a listener struggles to comprehend. My own issue with the piece was centered around the drums or the heart of any band. Though this instrument can be quiet or as loud as one wants, it feels as though the drums’ purpose was unknown. At times when it should not have, the drums rose and fell in pitch, speed, and meaning. I had a difficult time with this as they tended to be off-beat and too fast so as to solely dominate the piece. The other main issue I had was the blending of the album as a whole. Abrupt stops and starts of instrumentation within a track made it so unbelievably jarring that it was quite difficult to allow myself to become immersed. Nevertheless, these criticism should be taken into context with the argument that this is FLAGG’s first release. Though they need to work on their development, execution, and uniqueness, their goals remain somewhat apparent.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Destroy, Desecrate
2. Nothing But Death
3. Dark Clouds Gathering
4. Burning Sky
5. Abomination
6. Apex Predator
7. Sixth Sun Salvation
8. Last Breath Drawn
9. Towards Emptiness
Flagg – Guitars, Bass, and Synths
Tyrant – Vocals
Record Label: Purity Through Fire


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