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Fleshdriver – Leech

by Gary Hernandez at 29 August 2020, 3:26 PM

Back in April 2020 something cruel and brutal crawled out of the Florida swamp. Its name was FLESHDRIVER. Over the month they released three singles, then on June 5, 2020 they added two more tracks to the collection and dropped their demo, “Leech.” Although the album is only five tracks long, running right about 15 minutes, it gives us a clear indication of just how good these two blokes, Quinn Riley (drums) and Tyler Denslow (vocals, guitars), are. Typically, what we’ll see with demos is a cleaner EP, or even full-length album, released sometime later with the demo tracks remixed and sometimes even re-recorded. With this demo, however, I have my reservations — it’s so raw and authentic that I’d hate for it to be washed out in a more polished production.

Technically FLESHDRIVER is a Death Metal band, but subgenres are artificial categories we use to generalize a band’s sound so we can easily describe them to others. There’s too much going on with this band to limit them to one subgenre, so let’s just say they are aggressive, visceral, and way heavy. Tyler provides us with all the guitar work — the gritty riffs, the soaring lead solos and flourishes, and even the bass. He also handles the vocals, which are both raspy and guttural. Ironically, or deliberately, his vocals are overwhelmed by the distortion of his own guitar playing. And that’s one of the cool things about this album — it’s as if it was too big for the recording studio and the power and distortion and feedback just bled everywhere.

With that said, the production quality is little on the rough side, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I think it comes down to the listener’s preference more than the band’s or the sound engineer’s intention. If we’re looking for consistency across the lyrics, songwriting, cover art, and sonic presentation, then we have to believe that the band was going for unrefined, uncontainable power . . . and that’s pretty much what we get. I mean, one look at the album cover art (courtesy of Maxime Tremblay) and you pretty much know you’re not getting a Prog concerto. Adding to this raw vibe is the fact that four of the five tracks end on a quick, irregular fade, like someone walked across the room and manually dropped the amps from 11 to 0.

The tempo of the album is a bit more even than you might expect. It never dips into Doom gorges but also never ratchets to frenetic heights. Instead, it hangs right in the middle where infectious grooves and fist-pumping melodies reside. While all the tracks are exceptional, my favorites are the first three out of the gates: “Leech,” “Kingdom Of Rats,” and “Soul Thirst.” “Morte Agitur” (trans: death is) is also very good with Quinn Riley showing us that Death Metal drumming can be more than blind bast beats.

FLESHDRIVER shows a swampfull of promise with “Leech” and, like that swamp, it harbors a deadly disposition. This demo might only be 15 minutes long, but you’ll listen to it for hours.  We may have two hurricanes bearing down on Texas and Louisiana at the moment, but there’s a hell of a storm kicking up in North Florida that’s twice as lethal.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Leech
2. Soul Thirst
3. Kingdom Of Rats
4. Morte Agitur
5. The Golden Calf
Quinn Riley – Drums
Tyler Denslow – Vocals, guitars
Record Label: Redefining Darkness Records


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