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After hearing the band's second album, Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering I could smell loads of potential (just read the review), but there was something like experimentation gone awry in the sound. I hoped that perhaps their debut was something similar but less inane than their sophomore release, and unfortunately I was both right and wrong.
Flesh Consumed is obviously a death metal band, but where their allegiance in terms of sub-classification lies is totally out of my reach. They vary wildly, especially on this album, from bog-standard brutal death metal to chaotic and almost Wicked Innocence or Gorguts level of unique atmosphere - all the while trying to maintain a mantra of technicality and gore. To top it off, they include various samples to continue creating that atmosphere, only to abandon that for stupid anti-riffing like the beginning of "Human Abattoir". The actual naming of that classification is unimportant, but the band refuses to stick to one sound or even a handful of complimentary styles - they just branch out everywhere in death metal and shove those ideas together.
To be fair, there are parts where the broad strokes of death metal work - "Cast Into the Pit" being a personal favorite and identifiable as a song adhering to basic but strong ideas of arrangement. When the various vocalists - three of the four members of the band perform vocals throughout the album - come in all hell breaks loose.
Just imagine a toad croaking, now record that. Got it? Pitch shift that down a step or two and add a soft clapping sound underneath all of that. The mess you have before you is the vocal style on ...Mutilate..., i.e. an awful excuse for 'brutal' nonsense that does nothing but hinder the music on display. What's worse is that Corey, the 'lead' vocalist, doesn't know where to put his vocals; sometimes the most asinine or tedious riff will be left out in the open instrumentally and next the most interesting or atmospheric barrage will be drowned out by stupid gurgles.
Luckily the instruments themselves don't sound like something off of early Devourment records or something - the guitar tone is respectable and middy without becoming muddy or terribly boring. But there is a slight issue with the distortion itself that makes the chugging or slam portions of the songs sound weak. What's more is that the bass sound is totally axed and the guitarists are left to fill out the band sound by themselves, something that should never happen in death metal. The atmosphere the riffing is working so hard to create, or destroy even, is again taken apart by the lack of bass presence. Songs are relatively memorable and the riffs range from stupid unnecessary noodly bits to proper heavy metal riffs, but that isn't nearly enough to pull the band from the mess they've created,
The drumming is far from enjoyable and exceeds expectations when it comes to lackluster metal drumming. This guy is just keeping a beat and blasting every once and awhile - it's really boring and the drum tone is dreadful all around. Production is nothing special but, as I said earlier, leaves much to be desired in terms of bass presence and leaves the guitars and vocals as the primary sounds.
But, listening back again to this record, I have to think - perhaps the band's constant presentation of motifs within the death metal genre and then further deconstruction of those motifs is the point? Ranging from the slam sections in "Disinterment" to the sweeping sections of "Locked in the Crosshairs" the band is attempting to produce an album where the evolution of the music isn't forced to one genre's constraints. Unfortunately for Flesh Consumed, this methodical re-imagining of their sound results in a disjointed effort that can range wildly from enjoyable to outright confusing.
+ Bold, if convoluted, flow of genres
+ Guitar tone is excellent
+ "Disinterment", "Cast Into the Pit", and "Locked in the Crosshairs" are excellent tracks
- Bass presence is far from being just that, as in it's not there at all
- Drumming is beyond saving
- The bold rebuilding of sounds leads to a wobbly disjointed record
- Vocals are all just bad
All in all, it's not the worst thing I've ever heard in my life but the record is fairly weak. If you are thinking about ordering this maybe you should try something else, but if you're going in blind then I don't think there is much to draw you in here - the various styles are performed by better bands and with more coherency. Still, I can't help but think this band could establish an amazing sound for themselves so support them and hopefully their third release will be just that album.