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According to some opinions this is the greatest death metal album that came from the German DM scene in the early 90's. Well, I am not sure whether I would pick up "Descend into the Absurd" and give it this title, coz’ the choice is difficult. There are also some other killer bands and classics albums deserving it as much as Fleshcrawl. There’s of corpse Morgoth with all their stuff recorded up to “Cursed” LP, there’s also Torchure and “Beyond the Veil”... And few more bands. Obviously such Morgoth was always way more popular back in the old days than Fleshcrawl, they were one of the leading European death metal bands, while Fleshcrawl was more underground act, so it is quite difficult to compare both bands.... But definitely both belong to my personal favourites from the old days of German death metal scene. And both have recorded some killer albums. Yeah, as much as "Descend into the Absurd" may seem a bit underestimated and almost forgotten (or at least not quite as well known as it should be), it still remains a monument of classic old styled death metal. And if you call yourself a fan of this music, then you must know and have this album in your collection!
Those of you, who know Fleshcrawl from their more recent albums rather than from their early stuff, may be slightly surprised here. You won't hear much of the Swedish death metal influence on "Descend into the Absurd"! Let me remind you that Fleshcrawl on their more recent materials have started to play very much like Dismember and such… meanwhile this debut CD is way more primeval and rough sort of death metal. Sure, there may be some similarities to certain Swedish death metal bands, but if you look for things such as Sunlight Studio like production, or so characteristic atmosphere and melody, then you will be disappointed. This album hasn’t got them. Instead, this is harsh, raw and aggressive ancient way of death metal! It’s classic death metal and it certainly has similarities to some bands from Finland, Sweden, Holland, USA and even a certain later black metal cultists from Norway, whose first album is a classic death metal LP. It doesn't really matter and the most important fact here is that "Descend into the Absurd" sounds just so bloody fantastic. Maybe the production could have been slightly better, but I like it anyway and the songwriting doesn't leave any doubts... killer band, awesome album with eight spotless death metal songs, filled with heavy, brutal riffs and a lot of variety.
I must admit that my favourite parts of "Descend into the Absurd" are when Fleshcrawl plays slow. There are several almost doomy moments, which sound just fantastic and will definitely be a thing for the maniacs of some British, Dutch, Scandinavian and one certain American bands. First we can hear it on "Phrenetic Tendencies", a brilliant opener, which starts in rather fast manner, but it quickly leads towards a killer doomy passage, only to speed up again after a while. Great effect and a slaughter guaranteed. Then "Perpetual Dawn" is even better example, as it starts with excellent doomy part... and yes, it transforms into a merciless death metal ferocity again, but I like it this way, cause it sounds just better when the music is not so one dimensional, but provides a lot of diversity. There are even some traces of Swedish death metal near the end of this long, almost 7 minutes long song, so I can certainly say that "Perpetual Dawn" belongs to my favourite tracks from the whole album. The best is yet to come though, with such songs as "Lost in a Grave" - which is another explosion of brutal, massive riffs and death metal ferocity... It sounds quite like Morgoth's "Isolation" hehe, but it is just brilliant song, one of the finest moments on "Descend into the Absurd", filled with slow, heavy riffing and then speeding up once again. And the same I can say about "Never to Die Again... what a classic song.
But really, I think that there are no weak moments on "Descend into the Absurd" and definitely this is one of my favourite European death metal albums from the good old days. It has everything what I like about the classic death metal - slow, doomy parts, as well as fast, ferocious stuff... there are vicious, harsh growls and great, raw production and finally that atmosphere of horror, of something eerie is present here as well. It's absolutely recommendable album, a true gem in this style of music. I am quite surprised it has never been released on vinyl, also I guess that nowadays even the CD version is quite hard to find. So, I hope it will finally be released on black wax one day, as I would love to have it on vinyl. Meanwhile I totally recommend this album to all old school death metal maniacs out there; if you don't know this classic, then get it now!
Standout tracks: "Perpetual Dawn", "Lost in a Grave", "Never to Die Again", "Festering Flesh"
Final rate: 90/100
Sexy album cover, right? Luckily for us, that sexiness doesn’t stop at the album cover, as classic German death metal band Fleshcrawl released quite the excellent album in 1992 with Descend into the Absurd.
Fleshcrawl is one of the top German death metal act, period. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me clue you in as to what Fleshcrawl sounds like. Imagine if Autopsy sounded better. That’s about it. I’ve stated previously my disinterest, yet respect, for Autopsy’s old material, and Fleshcrawl is basically one of the main reasons for this disinterest merely because they do it better and wit ha heavier sound. This is doom-laden death metal at its absolute best if you ask me, as it combines the best elements of each, juxtaposing them in excellent style, emphasized even more by the choice between smooth and abrupt transitions. The death metal side of it here alternates between your classic blastbeating and the classic double bass work, so there’s no new ground being broken in certain parts of the composition, but that’s never been what death metal has been about–it’s about structure and atmosphere, and that’s what Fleshcrawl are all too good at utilizing.
Anyway, the album starts with a cheesy intro. Hooray, cheesy intros! Well, this didn’t need to be 2:30 long, but a cheesy intro is a cheesy intro nonetheless. ‘Phrenetic Tendencies’ is the first song here, and it starts with a raucous blastbeat session, which quickly leads into the first plodding doom-y section. Using a fast blastbeat to transition into his slow section was an excellent move, at it really added emphasis to both sections. After a few more minutes, you’ll understand a few things about Fleshcrawl’s sound. Firstly, that they alternate through a lot of styles quickly, and they do it well. Secondly, that the drummer is really good. I really appreciate all of the subtle touches he puts on each blastbeat and fill, making them seem much more personal than your average dull programmed Anaal Nathrakh blasting session. Lastly, the bassist is also quite good, with some very interesting grooves throughout the course of this album. So yes, we have a very strong rhythm section here.
‘Perpetual Dawn’ is next, and easily my favorite song here. This song just amps up the doom and the epic ends of Fleshcrawl’s sound to ridiculously great levels. God damn, how can anyone not like this song? Even the transitions and progression through the song are just executed so well and in such a grabbing manner. When I think of my favorite songs in German death metal, this is #1 for me, as it just has this intensely creepy vibe that I really like in my death metal. It’s slow, yet epic.
With Descend into the Absurd, your getting an OSDM album. That’s obvious. However, you’re also getting probably the best OSDM album in all of Germany’s history, as well as an album that arguably trumps everything Autopsy has done (at least in this author’s humble opinion). Think slow, plodding, doomy, deathy, epic, and extreme. This is Fleshcrawl. These songs are all on the long side, especially for death metal, but damn, they are worth listening to, as every second is gold.
Written for http://thenumberoftheblog.com/
Germany has had its fair share of death metal, a solid if soft spoken scene which has existed since the early days of the genre's transformation and genesis. But few of its exports have exploded onto the scene in quite the same fashion as the excellent Fleshcrawl. This band would go on to create many great albums with a clear Scandinavian death influence, but ironically, their debut Descend Into the Absurd, which was actually recorded in Stockholm, bears more of an influence from bands like Death, Bolt Thrower and Pestilence.
This is an album I'd advise listening to at full volume for its many nuances. On the surface a simplistic crusher, the muddy walls of infernal guitar are dominant and powerful as the album performs its namesake upon you. "Between the Shadows They Crawl" is a frightening intro, created through ambient synthesizers, before "Phrenetic Tendencies" grinds you up into chopped liver with its barrage of tinny drums and the meaty breadth of its riffing. The album is like being force fucked by a sludge beast risen through a conduit from Hell, in your local swamp. There is little to the riffs but raw power, and the band often slows down to a doomy crawl, i.e. most of "Perpetual Dawn", the first half of "Purulent Bowel Erosion", and much of "Lost in a Grave". Through the crushing chords, the band will often insert bloody melodic lines that add to the grief wrought by the album. Other great tunes include "Festering Flesh" and "Evoke the Excess", but you're best off to just press play and absorb all 54 minutes of this underrated behemoth.
This is not a technical band, they don't strive to impress you with their effortless noodling or random, sporadic tempo shifting. They exist to crush, like a slow moving juggernaut of lost souls that sucks up all the life in its path. Your sorrow is inevitable when faced with an album like Descend Into the Absurd, and it's a great example of 'slow and steady wins the race' in the death metal scene. I give this album high recommendations to fans of early Asphyx, or the plodding British Bolt Thrower, who also produced successful albums with this intent. Though Fleshcrawl will produce comparable records like the furious As Blood Rains from the Sky... in 2000, this debut remains one of their very best.
Highlights: Phrenetic Tendencies, Lost in a Grave, Festering Flesh, Evoke the Excess
As we entered 1992, the year in which death metal peaked in terms of sheer quantity of quality recordings, an unforgiving cloud formed over southern Germany. Ghouls gathered, preparing to sweep across the land and coat it in death and in chaos. For not only were Atrocity creating their marvellous progressive opus “Longing for Death”; Fleshcrawl were writing this glorious and savage tribute to the soulless.
Fleshcrawl tread the road of doomy death metal upon which the likes of Autopsy and Darkthrone explored in years previous, but rather than tentatively edging forward like a blind man on a diving board (that’s not to say the previously mentioned bands can be described as such ;)), they plunge headlong into the unknown with a slab of unnervingly calculated detachment from life and embracement of feral meaninglessness.
The album begins in a heavily ironic fashion; a drum heartbeat pulsing life through a windswept background. Tension gradually grows and, as is the case throughout the album, releases with unfaltering apathy. A melody swirls down the now quick ambience-inducing mechanism of the drums into deconstruction, rolls forebodingly, obdurately and deliberately along a deadened, barren path of prolonged dissonant chords that begin to chug, then resurfaces back into chaos. The album continues this way, relentlessly, without compromise or warmth.
Leadwork is scrawled with delicious emptiness in places, and hits a focused whirl in others. Drums are hollow and cold, and used very effectively whether in doomy passages, blasting sections or accompanying a mid-paced chug. The growls are, well… they’re fucking awesome. The guitar tone is quite sludgy and ‘heavy’ enough to rip off your bollocks. The melodies themselves are fairly Swedish in style, though I find the album is most comparable to non-Swedish releases such as “Slumber of Sullen Eyes” and “Soulside Journey” (more advanced and powerful than both imo, which should tell you just how highly I rate this).
One of the best three DM albums from Germany, along with Atrocity's “Longing For Death” and Golem’s “Eternity: The Weeping Horizons”. Acquire or expire!