To say that 2018 has thus far been a big year for technical death metal releases is underselling the incredible output from bands like Alterbeast, Rivers of Nihil, Karpathian Relict, Æpoch and Inferi by a country mile (as we say here in the boonies). Throwing their hats into the evil ring of blast beats and warp speed solos are Boston-based quartet Unflesh and their debut LP 'Savior,' due out on May 25th. The good people over at Mind Eraser Promotions, who no doubt thought they were reaching out to a real music journalist and not a Chips Ahoy-addicted glorified tech death fanboy, sent me an advance copy to listen to and review. In between face-stuffing sessions today I've done just that, and as you may have guessed I have some thoughts I'd like to share.
'Savior' is, first and foremost, an album founded on the very core tenants of death metal:speed, brutality and technical excellence. Right out of the gates the one-two punch of the title track and 'Bestowal of Decay' offer nothing less than total blast beat and fret board heroics that work in unison and provide the perfect backdrop for Ryan Beevers' blackened screams. Extended instrumental breaks allow Chris Dovas' drums and Peter De Reyna's bass ample room to stretch their musical legs. The pace, if anything, somehow manages to quicken during these passages as Beevers and Chris Gardino work some devilry on the skinny strings.
Where the album really begins to gain traction for me is on the expansive 'Final Writhe.' At first seemingly little more that a continuation of the cranial assault, the track ascends, descends and rises again through tempo changes that positively command a listener's attention. Complimented by a bleak synth break and finally a trailing acoustic/electric arpeggio, the track is as well constructed and sonicaly engaging a piece of technical death metal as I've heard in many a moon (another hillbilly expression; apparently I'm full of them today).
Fans of the straight-forward, punch you in the face variety of death metal will find lots to like here, with all the speed, venom and ferocity that Necrophagist, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Alterbeast fans could hope to hear. Beevers' vocals are the real winner for me, though. Amazingly clear throughout, his screams and growls are often overlaid and work best when they're synchronous with the thundering rhythm section. Beevers' delivery at both the low and high ends are equally potent, though his black metal-inspired scream is certainly his weapon of choice. The instrumental metal fan in me appreciated very much the moments where he backed away and allowed the instruments to rage on their own.
In the end, Unflesh's 'Savior' is yet another solid debut from a long list of excellent first outings this year. As fast and as brutal as you want, there were enough legitimately engaging breaks from the audible beat-down to keep me going back for more. If what you need is a blackened technical death metal record that opts to fix bayonets and charge your pretty face with both speed and blind rage, Unflesh has an album you will want to hear.
You can pre-order Savior over on Unflesh's Bandcamp page. There you can also sample the onslaught via the singles 'Bestowal of Decay' and 'The Eradication Commenced.' Band news, to include tour dates, can be had on their Facebook page. Once you're finished there you're welcome to come back here and let us know what you think. Unless you think that I should give up sugary, salty snack foods. I'll not have that kind of negativity in my life.
Video: "Bestowal Of Decay"