Eight “dynamic and ferocious” songs are promised on this debut from Seattle-based extreme progressive metallers A Flourishing Scourge. I’d agree there’s a degree of ferocity and extremity, and progressiveness in the way that breathless passages are taken in different directions. There’s plenty going on but other than the fact that it’s extreme, it’s not so easy to get a handle on. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I found myself more bewildered than in awe of the opening track “Tidal Wave”. The first has elements of Dark Tranquillity and old style Omnium Gatherum without any atmosphere, then it races off into a blackened haze and I’m not sure after that: vigorous metal, I suppose. The calmer start of “To The Stench of A Rotting Corpse” is, I guess, to cool us down and put us in a sombre mood, but predictably an explosion takes place and fiery harshness takes over. A crunchy riff line takes over, and adds real power. Technically, it’s good as the guitarists play with panache. What I struggled with was what atmosphere the band was trying to convey. There’s a dark side but the guitar playing has flamboyance. As a contrast, it doesn’t work for me.
Having just complained that I didn’t know what atmosphere the oxymoronically named A Flourishing Scourge is trying to create, they then leave us in no doubt with the blackened and deathly “Insatiable”. But wait, they decide to head off into an anonymous but again technically fine passage before finishing off acoustically. Sometimes this all serves the useful purpose of mashing with my brain but I just found this frustrating and isolating from the undefined purpose. Interestingly this album was mixed and mastered by known people – Jamie Uertz (Gojira, Anthrax) and the ubiquitous Jens Bogren (Soilwork, Haken, Dark Tranquillity, Rotting Christ even and a host of others) – but here there’s no continuity and frankly it doesn’t sound that great. “Onerous” has a decent mount of dark weightiness after a doom like start. The track builds up to a more frenzied approach, with a bit of distortion and slight psychedelia in the guitar work to add interest value. For all its dark moodiness, I can’t say it shattered me. A short, dark symphonic track follows as an interlude but its undoubted atmospheric intent was lost on me as I wasn’t getting the overall atmosphere. Symphonic and acoustic strains combine to open “Vacant” but very quickly this is gone and forgotten as filthy black harshness intervenes. As if ignoring what’s gone before, there’s a flowery guitar piece and the acoustic symphony comes back. We’re still only half way through the track. To be fair I appreciated the melancholy, which oozed out of this section, but it’s hard to absorb as you don’t know what’s coming next – something different, for sure. The answer is a doom like majesty and an incongruously upbeat guitar solo. I silently congratulated myself on predicting that growly black metal would follow, but that’s not the point. I just couldn’t see any continuity. A long-winded introduction characterised the instrumental “The Hedonist”. I waited for it to develop into something and it showed signs with some sharp guitar work and a bit of urgency six and half minutes into the eight minutes, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
I didn’t get the point of this album. It’s as if A Flourishing Scourge were trying everything out. There’s too much going on and it was all over the place atmospherically. It’s not particularly original either. I’d say that A Flourishing Scourge need to sort out what they want to be. Shorter tracks with a more focussed and intense impact would be my thought on that. For now, this self-titled album wasn’t, at least in my book, an enriching experience.
(4/10 Andrew Doherty)