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Unflesh – Savior

Unflesh
Savior
by Alexis Lareine at 20 May 2018, 8:50 PM

UNFLESH is a death metal band from Boston, Massachusetts. Their first release was in 2016, an EP entitled “Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity” featuring Hannes Grossman of ALKALOID and BLOTTED SCIENCE, formerly of NECROPHAGIST and OBSCURA. Incidentally, the band’s influences also include NECROPHAGIST and range from IRON MAIDEN to ANGEL CORPSE. The album opens with the title track, “Savior”. The intro is orchestral, with a clear bass line leading the way. When the riff finally drops, you can immediately tell that this band is heavily influenced by NECROPHAGIST. The bass still has plenty of room to breathe and follows the guitar line. The drums are super tight, and the cymbal work is a great accent to the overall feel. The vocals are unexpected for the style: a raspy fry. The drum mix leaves a bit to be desired. The snare is so far back in the mix in some of the sections that it’s hard to discern. I love a clicky kick drum, but this one needs more body to it. The guitar solo as 4:00 is shreddy, relatively clean, with some questionable note selection here and there, but it builds nicely. The riffs make great use of wider intervals and octaves, adding to the tech-death feel.

“Bestowal of Decay” gets right to the point with more tech-death riffage. I hope there’s more variation in the vocals throughout the album; some more guttural Muhhamed Suicmez-style vocals would really suit the music well. This song highlights the tinny sound of the drumkit – there seems to overall be very minimal low-end present in this mix. I can’t emphasize how technically proficient Peter’s bass-playing is; it’s really the highlight of the album so far. The solo section on this song is so high-energy from beginning to end, the rhythm section the perfect groundwork for the relentless barrage of shred on top. The shreddier lines are really clean as well. “Final Writhe” opens with a much more mellow riff, with techier fills to keep it interesting. There are some really catchy riffs on this track that interchange with more interesting, more technical sections. The instrumental section at 2:45 is a completely unexpected turn, and the section itself is. . . strange. The chimey keys give it an almost childish sound. The section that it builds into plays off of the progression well though, and I love the way these songs build and progress riff-to-riff. A bass solo closes the song, and it’s really the most enjoyable part of the song, with the aurally pleasing progression and the fullness of the tone.

“Erosive Devotees” is very OBSCURA-esque circa “Cosmogenesis” – which is no surprise seeing as Hannes Grossman and Christian Muenzner, formerly of NECROPHAGIST, were a part of that lineup. The bass line that opens the song is super reminiscent of Jeroen Thesseling in its technicality. Chris Dovas’s drumming is tight – those double kicks are spot-on, the fills are pure blazing technicality, and the cymbal work is such a great accent that adds this fantastic variation to the riffs. The changes in drum patterns really showcase Chris’s versatility. The solo guitar in the interlude at 0:18 is extremely reminiscent of Christian Muenzner on “Universe Momentum”; this song seems to essentially be “Universe Momentum” 2.0. This song is the best on the album so far; it’s 5 minutes and 22 seconds of pure incendiary energy. There still isn’t much variation from the vocals, but the style does suit the music well. “The Eradication Commenced” has this groove to it that hasn’t been present in the first half of the album; it’s still fantastically technical, but it’s a great change-up from the rest of the album. I know I keep going back to the bass, but it is so refreshing to hear bass lines that don’t just follow the guitars – each bass line contributes to the riff in more than just providing the low end. The song progresses and builds wonderfully, and it still maintains the groove through the entire song, even throughout the sections of blinding technicality.

So far, the band has not been particularly innovative, but they’ve taken some of the best aspects of the tech-death genre up until this point and really honed it into something that would have been considered revolutionary a few years ago. For those who still yearn for 2000’s-era technical death metal like NECROPHAGIST, “Cosmogenesis”-era OBSCURA, even “Planetary Duality”-era THE FACELESS, this is the perfect album. “Caliginous” opens, again, with a technical yet catchy groove that wasn’t present in the first half of the album. The use of harmonics in the verse section is unexpected, and simply gorgeous. The song is overall simpler than the previous songs, but the intervals and progressions are so catchy and aurally pleasing that you don’t miss the uber-technicality. “Desecration of Light” get straight back into that classic tech-death feel. This is another song that is pure, aggressive energy the entire way through. The song just flows and progresses in a way that a lot of current bands miss the mark on, and it’s really a breath of fresh air. The tightness of the Chris’s drumming really gets highlighted in this song; the drums have so much room to breathe throughout, and the double kicks and blast beats are so damn solid. My only complaint in this song is that the guitar solo seems unusually, markedly low in the mix, where it feels like I have to strain to really hear it.

The album closes with “Disintegration God”. It opens with a barrage of sweep-picking for 30 seconds. The feel change at 0:57 is so subtle, and it keeps the song progressing and moving along. The progression that begins at 1:31 is simply gorgeous, and the many layers counter the simplicity of each part. The interaction between the two guitars at 2:03 up to the guitar solo is also subtle but adds an intriguing layer to the section. I love when a band can surprise me, and the note selection in the first licks of this solo is unexpected leading up to the shreddier section. The second half of the solo is so melodic, and the shred is clean and discernable. The song actually ends on a rumble, something you rarely see in tech-death, before the sample of thunder kicks in, and a minimal, haunting, dissonant, downright creepy orchestral section closes out the album.

This is a band that likes to wear their influences on their sleeve. Again, the songs weren’t particularly innovative, but they took classic aspects of tech-death and created a really solid album. Chris’s drumming was on-point; the variation in the drum patterns really kept the sections moving along. These guys really know how to write a riff; there was a bit of everything in these riffs: blinding technicality, grooviness, and catchiness. The solos were just fun – melodic, shreddy but relatively clean. The production was a bit behind the times; it very much like a mid-2000’s death metal album. The lower end could’ve used much more support, but the drum mix was great – other than the kick really missing that body to make it fuller – and the guitar tones had that classic, timeless tech-death sound. I can’t emphasize enough how prodigious of a bassist Peter is – honestly up there with Wes Hauch, Jeroen Thesseling, and Stephan Fimmers. The album is very 2000’s tech-death; I hope with the next release, UNFLESH can bring this brand of tech-death into the modern climate, much like FUCK YOU AND DIE has done.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production:  7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Savior
2. Bestowal of Decay
3. Final Writhe
4. Erosive Devotees
5. The Eradication Commenced
6. Caliginous
7. Desecration of Light
8. Disintegration God
Lineup:
Ryan Beevers  - Vocals/Guitars
Chris Dovas – Drums
Peter De Reyna – Bass
Chris Gardino – Guitars
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 17 August 2018
 

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