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Probably one of the longest running death metal bands out of Denmark, Corpus Mortale‘s releases have been rather sporadic since their formation in 1993, with FleshCraft merely being their fourth full length release after a six year wait since their last release. With such a long gap between releases, FleshCraft had better contain some superb material for fans of the band to wait this long.
It doesn’t take long for the band to prove their experience in dishing out crushing death metal, as album opener Weakest of the Weak immediately hitting the listener like a freight train with the starting riffs of Carlos and Brian bringing things to a climax before letting all hell break loose, all the while accompanied by the relentless battery of drummer Rasmus. The style of death metal that is unleashed by Corpus Mortale on FleshCraft immediately reminds one of their fellow compatriots The Cleansing, only that the band has made their craft much heavier, and much more brutal than the aforementioned. Furthermore, the incisive, precise chugging riffs and that low-string pinch harmonics that are abundant on the album also bring in some slight Polish death metal resemblance, rather similar to Behemoth‘s later death metal material, combined with the fury and aggression of bands like Hate Eternal.
What is particularly captivating on the album is the sheer intent displayed by the band to produce some of the most crushing music, and this is most evident through the drumming of Rasmus, the personal highlight of the album. The constant blasting style of Rasmus is sure to please any fan of extreme metal with a thing for aggressive drumming, as he ensures that even the slower moments on the record are absolutely face-ripping with the brilliant fills. Guitarists Carlos and Brian also display their flair on their instruments, with the often complex riffs in addition to the brutality, not unlike those that bands like Decapitated have done on classics like Nihility at times. Furthermore, the chemistry between the band members can be heard on the tightness between the drums and the guitars such as on the intro of Love Lies Bleeding, making FleshCraft all the more enjoyable.
And all the aggression and intensity is further brought out with the production quality on the album, allowing for each of the instruments to really ring out loud and clear, especially the guitars and the drums, the main instruments driving the album forward. The bass is also used cleverly on songs like Love Lies Bleeding to build up the tension in the atmosphere.
Certainly, it has been a long wait for fans of the band since their last release. But with the quality of music on FleshCraft, the band has proven that the wait was well worth it.
I'm not sure what it is about Danish metal that renders it beneath other scenes in terms of international impact, but who could deny the strength that groups like Exmortem, Invocator and Panzerchrist have exuded through the years? Corpus Mortale is another name I could kick around with that lot, and a band who have impressed me time and time again with records like Spiritism (1998) or A New Species of Deviant (2007). FleshCraft is their fourth, and latest long player, and once again the band exhibits a professionalism and tautness of performance that you're generally only going to find with such a seasoned squad; I can't cite that they've got the most unique style going in the field, and in fact there are points at which this album sounds painstakingly similar to so many others like it, but the swarthy production, songwriting and in-your-face brutality are difficult to ignore.
Right up front, the guitars have an enormous level of punch to them which translates very cleanly into the more intricate details of the picking. Clinical, balanced chugging that not once through the 41 minutes of content every becomes tired or nonchalant. Murderous low-end trills redolent of old Cannibal Corpse, compact and mechanical grooves not unlike Pestilence (Resurrection Macabre), and strutting palm mute sequences that were once a trademark of the great Morbid Angel in better days. The drumming is as tight as an untapped fuckhole, with machine gunnery double bass and precision snares so meticulous that it rarely feels like a human is being the kit (though there is one, Rasmus Schmidt). Bass guitar is corpulent, though it does sit beneath the muscle of the guitars a bit much in the mix, and rarely exemplifies itself outside of stunts like the intro to "Love Lies Bleeding"; but Martin Rosendahl has always been a bit of a Martin van Drunen in this respect: his vocals are the stronger of his instruments, and here they're a blunt hammer being dropped on the listener's spine in pendulous punctuation, a brute and broad guttural that hits every bit as hard as the guitar tone. Sort of a thuggish approximation of Chris Barnes, Patrick Mameli and Oliver Jauch (formerly of Germans Obscenity).
This being said, once I strip away the potency and polish of FleshCraft's production, and the unflinching sense of musicianship and energy that courses through the 10 tracks here, I must admit I found the album a little less appealing. Though harried and intense, there's just not much subtlety happening anywhere. The riffs really wear their boldness on their sleeves, and there's never any menacing aural subtext. Brutal, but never evil. The muscle of the mix is likely to win over a number of listeners through sheer impact, but a deeper examination of the guitar licks reveals little interesting that I haven't heard off a dozen other albums. It lacks some of the primordial charm of its own ancestors, in particular Spiritism where the vocals were more fun, or A New Species of Deviant which had a slightly more interesting riff-set and dirtier tone. FleshCraft is a studio marvel, broader and busier and more bruising than the Danes' backlog, but sometimes even the hardest hitting mallet might only graze a rib or bone, and not crush it, and despite numerous listens, the songs here just didn't stick around my skull after banging on it. Not a bad album by a long shot, just a smidgeon forgettable.