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Death metal purveyors Deeds Of Flesh finally return after a five-year absence with their latest and greatest, 2013's Portals To Canaan. And with it, the band triumphantly marks their twentieth year in existence. Portals To Canaan add to what is already an extensive resume for the band and perhaps shines as their greatest work to date. It is Deeds' eighth full-length album and blasts nine tracks of concentrated death metal equaling one precise, polished package.
We last heard Deeds Of Flesh in 2008 upon their release Of What's To Come. That particular record found the band gradually delving into more of a technical approach in the music in contrast to the more traditional straight-forward brutality of their previous releases. It is notable that Of What's To Come also featured Erlend Caspersen of Spawn Of Possession and formerly Blood Red Throne on bass. With Portals To Canaan, the band continues with the technical death metal style, and seemingly has streamlined it to perfection. They mastered their own brand of tech death that is not overwhelming complicated while maintaining their brutal trademark sound. It refrains from deluging the listener with sensory overload and balances nicely with the band's more standard brutal structures. No doubt Portals To Canaan is Deeds Of Flesh to the core; however, the band has uploaded a new and improved technical element to their style. Deeds Of Flesh 2.0 if you will. Furthermore, the album is produced to perfection with superior thickness and clarity.
The songs themselves stand as some of the best Deeds Of Flesh has ever written. They are strife with fluid guitar profiles and soloing. Perhaps the most intriguing is the track "Rise Of The Virvum Juggernaut". Each band member showcases their talents in an astounding manner. The death vocals of Erik Lindmark are at their most powerful, as is the unmerciful yet highly precise pounding of Mike Hamilton behind the drums. Perhaps influencing the band's new-found fondness for technicality is the addition of Craig Peters on guitar, and Ivan Munguia on bass. Both are from the highly technical California outfit Arkaik, and in the case of Munguia, Brain Drill; and both are prodigal musicians at that. Overall, Deeds Of Flesh are as tight sounding as they've ever been. Added to Portals To Canaan's mix are some interesting spoken and bio-mechanical sound samples. Every song is great, and it's worth noting that the album additionally contains a cover of Gorguts' "Orphans Of Sickness" off of that band's groundbreaking LP, The Erosion Of Sanity, from 1993 (also Deeds of Flesh's first year as a band interestingly enough).
Portals To Canaan is an important offering to today's metal scene. It is a simplistic death metal album on many levels, but it's multi-layered with many progressive qualities. It is an astonishingly written, performed and produced beast. All around, it satisfies the craving for something straight-forwardly down to Earth, crushingly brutal, yet technically intricate at the same time. Deeds Of Flesh have forged a masterpiece and most definitely their best work to date. While the band has been around for quite some time now, Portals To Canaan proves they have not out stayed their welcome and still have a lot to offer per today's metal scene. In fact, they have produced a work that overshadows many of their newer contemporaries. The band is far from relinquishing their title as a death metal power house, and it will be interesting to see where the future finds them next.
***Originally written for and by www.deathportal.net
Here we have the 2013 release "Portals To Canaan" by the mighty Deeds Of Flesh, a band that I have followed (and at times forgotten about) since 1995's "Gradually Melted" EP. Their lack of progression throughout the 2000's did leave me a little bored with them, but as far as over-the-top technicality and brutality are concerned, Deeds of Flesh will always be at the top of my list along with the granddaddies of techdeath Suffocation. I should be honest and say that this is actually their first release I have heard since 2003's "Reduced To Ashes"
The albums starts with the song "Amidst the Ruins," opening with a great build-up that leads into a grinding frenzy that does not let up until the album's conclusion. The excellent production and always top-notch performance left me in jaw-dropped ecstasy, but the biggest surprise is the fact the their music is much less "math" oriented (I guess that would be the best way of putting it) and much more flowing with well written songs and catchier, "simpler" riffs. I'm not too sure whether this has to do with the fresh line-up of Craig Peters (guitars) and Ivan Munguia (bass) or if it's simply the complete brainchild of veteran and founding member Erik Lindmark, but whatever they're doing, it's working out pretty well.
One thing that really stands out with this release are the swirling guitar harmonies and solos littered throughout as with songs like "Rise Of the Virvum Juggernaut" and "Xeno-Virus," the inclusion of which only strengthens the intensity of the album as a whole. A solid death metal vocal assault and tight percussion help as well.
My biggest complaint with "Portals To Canaan" would have to be some of the experimental sections that appear every now and again. The oddball outro to "Entranced In Decades Of Psychedelic Sleep," the ear-grating minute long intro to "Celestial Serpents," and the absolutely unnecessary instrumental track "Caelum Hirundines Terra / The Sky Swallows the Earh" could have all been left off the final product, and it would have made it a much more enjoyable album. These parts only equal to about 3 minutes of the album though, and that's the only reason for a 95% rating. Overall, it is a terrific album that I will be listening to on repeat for a long time.