This release has already seen the light of day by the band in January of this year as a digital release but has been picked up by the Italian label for a limited CD run as far as I know. Rock and metal has never been shy of long songs and, moreover, has never been shy of having releases of just a single song on one release, indeed I can name a plethora of releases that have just a single song spanning 20 minutes to over one hour. Now whether they are any good or not depends on a number of factors, playing ability, arrangements, song writing, etc, you get the picture.
Fleshvessel from the USA has decided for their debut EP to put out a 24 minute plus single song track that is essentially split into three parts, two with lyrics and one instrumental section though for the most part this song is instrumental to be honest as the vocals are minimal. Comprising of a five piece I was surprised that the drums are essentially programmed and couldn’t quite understand why there isn’t an actual drummer in the ranks though the drum programming in itself is fine and done exceptionally well. Principally this EP is experimental death metal with a myriad of other instrumentation outside of the normal instruments you would find within metal itself that I am not sure about except to say strings or wind at this stage.
Like any expansive single song the track goes through metamorphic changes as it opens with calming tranquillity as the atmospheric beginning leads into a guitar fade-in that has a doom like aura and ominous posturing. The cavernous vocals are ultra-deep similar to 90s doom-death of the UK scene and Finnish death scenes. The crushing bass work has subtlety that belies its complexity accompanied by the low lying keyboard work before the song increases in speed with brief velocity and snapping snare work that cracks like a whip. The drum fill works well to sequence the sections but the blasted simulation is clumsy and doesn’t sound right, it’s too artificial. The tortured vocal is anguish driven as the keyboards become far more focused here and allow the lead breaks to reinforce the vocals.
As that section reaches a crescendo it quickly crashes out to leave an acoustic piece that leads into a progressive piece and what sounds like a fretless bass section. Here the song takes on a whole new level of technical dexterity, being far more progressive and even psychedelic to some extent as the drums return to increase the power as some hints of acts like Nocturnus come to mind. The deathliness returns as the vocals return along with the keyboards creating Middle Eastern flavour before the song erupts into full death metal fury. The double bass simulation is in full flow now and works to produce dense overriding power before turning the song on its head again.
Turning the song on its head is what this band does a lot and does exceptionally well, never allowing one facet to linger too long as a softer cleaner vocal billows into the song, almost like an echo on the wind wafting through the window as a ghostliness manifests in the phase. Flurries of progressivity are never far away as piano poignancy ensues and wind instrumentation as the section reeks of melancholy. As the strings delicately filter in the song becomes folk like almost funereal with some classical like arrangements that for some will be a stretch too far but for those that like to stretch the boundaries it will really absorb your imagination as the song abruptly, but neatly, plunges into a sludgy deathly abyss of bass and dense riffing. As this section continues the speed increases to half blast before the guitar continues its distorting tendrils of torture right before the wind instrumentation decides to inflict its own brand of piercing twistedness.
Once again the song decides to channel the listener down avenues of psychedelic pomposity but in a good way, and if you’ve got this far into my review I’m sure you’re still curious about this EP as I was when I listened to it as the song ends with what can only be described as post rock sensibilities, where harsh post black acidity leaves you in no doubt this US act has undeniable creativity and I await further releases with impatience.
(8/10 Martin Harris)