Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fleshgrind - Murder Without End (2003)

Had Fleshgrind delivered an album that improved upon The Seeds of Abysmal Torment as much as that had vaulted past Destined for Defilement, then we might have been looking at our first genuinely worthwhile experience. Instead, Murder Without End is rather a step in reverse, seeking instead to inhabit the aesthetic space between the first two albums. That this ultimately proved to be their swan song is not surprising, since the wells of inspiration seemingly suffered from drought conditions and the band were at best writing a mixture of half-decent riffs in the vein of their sophomore, or incredibly mediocre note progressions that went absolutely nowhere; emphasis on the latter! I can't pinpoint exactly why, but whenever I see this album I think back on all those moderately uninteresting discs that choke up the Malevolent Creation discography; Fleshgrind were writing at a similar level of abuse, albeit with a slightly more guttural relish.

The novelties or new ideas here are reduced to a few piano intros and outros, a few chord textures that I don't recall from the older works, and one very surprisingly melodic tremolo riff sequence that erupts in the middle of the track "Displayed Decay", which wouldn't have been out of place on a power metal or melodic death record. Otherwise, the most I can say for Murder Without End is that its got a more accessible, approachable mix than either of the other albums. The guitars are denser with a lot of punch, but are very often belting out 2-3 note patterns that leech any possible interest or inspiration from the listener, since any death metal band with even a modicum of experience could compose 150 such riffs in a few jamming hours without thinking twice. This was the one studio album with Derek Hoffman on drums (he had played on that Stabwound Intercourse EP circa Gorgasm), and he implements a lot more straight blasting and admittedly drives much of the energy and enthusiasm; but without good songs, it's all in vain. Guitar progressions vary between entirely forgettable chugs to faster, vapid blast parts with tremolo picking that remind me of some of Krisiun's least inspired tunes. Certainly a bit more of a Napalm Death 'grind' undercurrent, but that's nothing to write home about when its very originators can rarely make heads or tails of the style.

The bass is audible, carving out a cleaner tone not unlike that on the debut, but other than the occasional line of interest its not sticking its neck out very far. Rich's vocals were less interesting as well; a series of grunts that sound like Barney Greenway communicating with pigs, with a few raspy, snarling rodents occasionally chiming in when accidentally stepped on by the bacon aspirants. Again, this definitely all sounds fine and dandy if you're looking for generic brutal death band of the 'oughts #1,768, but significantly less 'brutal' and promising than the cuts I was hearing on The Seeds of Abysmal Torment. The composition is more athletic and aggressive than Destined for Defilement, to be sure, yet so is the gunning of most motorcycles. Sadly, while it remains almost as tightly knits as its predecessors (each album is expanding about 3 minutes), there is just too little value here, and 'meh' lyrics and boring grinders like "Pistolwhipped", "Enslaved to My Wrath" and an updated rendition of their 1993 demo track "Holy Pedophile" do their best to ensure that some of the less obnoxious efforts here get muddled down to oblivion. A handful of worthwhile riffs against a whole lotta derivative and mundane friction. The story of many brutal death metal acts' lives.

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10] (forever choking)

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