Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fleshbore - Embers Gathering (2021)

What sort of world do we live in when a record like Fleshbore's full length debut Embers Gathering goes virtually ignored? I always talk about the embarrassment of riches in metal music, and I know that a lot of the genre can feel flooded and redundant, but perhaps the millions of us heshers need to do better to get this stuff out in the conversations. This Indiana quintet's material is a bit deceptive, while it fully aligns with the popular brutal/tech aesthetics common for a lot of labels and scenes, they also have throw in some of these moments of ambiance, atmosphere, jazzy and busy little bass-lines, or floods of emotion created through a sheen of ebullient guitar chords. These moments really round out what might otherwise be seen as more generic, and those explosive, blasted sequences also have the advantage of holding your attention and reminding that Fleshbore lives up to its name and can throttle that brutal end of their spectrum.

I'm reminded a little of Fallujah or Rivers of Nihil, not that these guys sound exactly like those, but in how they have that musical subtext to their impressive technical chops. It's never really about showing off, but about hitting the listener with a contrast of intensity and calms. That just happens to be carried out with a lot of finesse that should sate fans that require the ceaseless technical, melodic onslaught of a band like Inferni, but I never find that they go over the top, there is never too much, they are always reeling back to offer you a more interesting, dynamic rhythmic vista. The bass performance here is consistently incredible, as are the spiraling rhythm guitars when you hear a cut like "Careless Preacher" where they just burst out of control and then back into the choppy, hammering patterns that get the neck strained. In "The Scourge", they complement a lot of chugging, complex undercurrent with some ringing, atmospheric notes as the momentum continues to crush and suffocate, and then "Embers Gathering" itself clotheslines you with melodic tech spasms that will dizzy you before once more pounding you relentlessly on the slab.

It's the tech death record for those who want more than just that, and thus has proven an adventure as I continue to listen through it. The production is the same polished perfection you'd expect from this style, and sort of necessary so you can make out everything that's happening. The cover art is quite compelling, some knights and philosophers on some existential journey, representative of the music itself, which is thoughtful but also armored in technique. A very strong debut that I've heard too few talking about, if you want modern technical death metal that combines a whirlwind of performance with an added layer of depth, or perhaps you want to tech a slightly more brutal, intense step past a band like Revocation or Obscura, this is your jam.

Verdict: Win [8/10]


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