Saturday, October 22, 2011

Festered - Flesh Perversion (2009)

Though I enjoy the lion's share of releases from prolific US old school death musicians Ghoat and Elektrokutioner, I can't help but think that the large amount of projects they're involved with might end up inhibiting some of their better work. A point in case is this massively entertaining debut from Festered, a project they share with guitar player Reaper (who was also in the New England retro thrash speed act Skulleton with Elektrokutioner before he moved). Released through Razorback Recordings well under the radars of most, Flesh Perversion is an archaic US delight of pure death metal which best conjures up comparisons to the earlier Florida works of Obituary, Death, Massacre, and their ilk, with a dash of Autopsy.

The album's not as cavernous or derivative of Incantation as some of the members' other projects like Decrepitaph or Father Befouled, but it's not wholly different either. Tremolo riffing, blasts and grooves, well placed horror samples, and ghostly, twisted leads that carve up the undead flesh of the rhythm guitars like repressed teen pyrokinetics at a homecoming dance. Tracks like "Debasement Ritual" and "Ascend from Death" stagger between bursts of cryptic velocity and lurching, colossal corpse breakdowns, while the honest guitar tone is churning enough that it can strip bones down to dust. There's definitely an undercurrent of that Celtic Frost or Hellhammer aesthetic that Obituary used on their first two records, and the riffing structures also recall Scream Bloody Gore or From Beyond, with a few hints of Consuming Impulse (like the bridge groove in the title track). I also appreciated the vocals, which trace their lineage back to a Chuck Schuldiner or Kam Lee, but seem more resonant and potent.

Ultimately, I found Flesh Perversion superior to all of the Decrepitaph albums and well on par with the slower, more morbid Father Befouled, and thus I'd urge all fans of these to also check this out. The campy comic book cover art, the violent psycho-stalker lyrics and the totally up front, in your face production aesthetics all combine into 30+ minutes of temporal displacement back to the years of 1988-93, when death metal felt fresh and ominous. No, they're not writing riffs at the legendary level of their forebears, and no, there is nothing hinging on complexity to be experienced by the tech death crowd, but if you've ever chased anyone through a graveyard after dark with a steak knife or machete, then this should prove an appropriate life's soundtrack.

Verdict: Win [8/10] (enter the agony of our disease)

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