without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Had Fleshgrind delivered an album that improved upon The Seeds of Abysmal Torment as much as that had vaulted past Destined for Defilement, then we might have been looking at our first genuinely worthwhile experience. Instead, Murder Without End is rather a step in reverse, seeking instead to inhabit the aesthetic space between the first two albums. That this ultimately proved to be their swan song is not surprising, since the wells of inspiration seemingly suffered from drought conditions and the band were at best writing a mixture of half-decent riffs in the vein of their sophomore, or incredibly mediocre note progressions that went absolutely nowhere; emphasis on the latter! I can't pinpoint exactly why, but whenever I see this album I think back on all those moderately uninteresting discs that choke up the Malevolent Creation discography; Fleshgrind were writing at a similar level of abuse, albeit with a slightly more guttural relish.
The novelties or new ideas here are reduced to a few piano intros and outros, a few chord textures that I don't recall from the older works, and one very surprisingly melodic tremolo riff sequence that erupts in the middle of the track "Displayed Decay", which wouldn't have been out of place on a power metal or melodic death record. Otherwise, the most I can say for Murder Without End is that its got a more accessible, approachable mix than either of the other albums. The guitars are denser with a lot of punch, but are very often belting out 2-3 note patterns that leech any possible interest or inspiration from the listener, since any death metal band with even a modicum of experience could compose 150 such riffs in a few jamming hours without thinking twice. This was the one studio album with Derek Hoffman on drums (he had played on that Stabwound Intercourse EP circa Gorgasm), and he implements a lot more straight blasting and admittedly drives much of the energy and enthusiasm; but without good songs, it's all in vain. Guitar progressions vary between entirely forgettable chugs to faster, vapid blast parts with tremolo picking that remind me of some of Krisiun's least inspired tunes. Certainly a bit more of a Napalm Death 'grind' undercurrent, but that's nothing to write home about when its very originators can rarely make heads or tails of the style.
The bass is audible, carving out a cleaner tone not unlike that on the debut, but other than the occasional line of interest its not sticking its neck out very far. Rich's vocals were less interesting as well; a series of grunts that sound like Barney Greenway communicating with pigs, with a few raspy, snarling rodents occasionally chiming in when accidentally stepped on by the bacon aspirants. Again, this definitely all sounds fine and dandy if you're looking for generic brutal death band of the 'oughts #1,768, but significantly less 'brutal' and promising than the cuts I was hearing on The Seeds of Abysmal Torment. The composition is more athletic and aggressive than Destined for Defilement, to be sure, yet so is the gunning of most motorcycles. Sadly, while it remains almost as tightly knits as its predecessors (each album is expanding about 3 minutes), there is just too little value here, and 'meh' lyrics and boring grinders like "Pistolwhipped", "Enslaved to My Wrath" and an updated rendition of their 1993 demo track "Holy Pedophile" do their best to ensure that some of the less obnoxious efforts here get muddled down to oblivion. A handful of worthwhile riffs against a whole lotta derivative and mundane friction. The story of many brutal death metal acts' lives.
My god, it took them a fucking decade to do it, but it finally happened: a full-fledged studio version of 'Holy Pedophile', perhaps Fleshgrind's best and most defining song of their whole history. Yes, it's sort of tacked on as a bonus track, but what better way to send off the band's final full-length than with that monster of a track? Too bad it had to end; after just a few albums, Fleshgrind, one of underground death/grind's most unique and enduring artists, called it quits, leaving a surprisingly large void in the field of 'uncomfortable sterile and mechanical death/grind'. Well... I miss them at least.
In truth, this record isn't NEARLY as sterile as the material you'd find on 'Destined For Defilement'. The material on that record reminded me a lot of demo-era Dying Fetus, with its extremely mechanical, unfeeling tone. I appreciated the aesthetic a lot but I can understand why fans of 'normal' death/grind wouldn't be fond of it. 'Murder Without End' is, at least in that regard, more traditional; the production is bass-heavy and warm, the drumming is less sterile, and overall it actually feels like humans are playing it. The writing, though, isn't extremely different. Fleshgrind's patented style of abrupt stop/starts and sudden, cold rhythmic assault is the same as usual, with crickety, tight-throated vocals and furious, convoluted chug riffing intact. This is certainly a bit more streamlined than before; 'Destined For Defilement' was almost impossible to follow at times due to its intentionally obfuscated sense of songwriting, but here the band at least telegraphs their riff and rhythm changes a little more.
Now, granted, while this is a more accessible release to some degree, it's certainly not going to be confused with Deicide anytime soon. The warm production only masks the intrinsically weird way Fleshgrind writes songs. The tracks on 'Murder Without End' are complex, riffy, and very far away from a more rockish band like Cannibal Corpse in structure, with tight arrangements (and even tighter playing) helping to separate this greatly from the typical item you might pick up in FYE. No band has ever really managed to replicate Fleshgrind's harrowing, Suffocation-inspired sound, and it's for the best, as few bands would be able to write music as equally punishing and memorable as these guys. Despite how off-kilter the music is, the band never sacrifices songwriting and catchiness for the sake of being odd; plenty of the riffs on this album stick to your head after it's over.
'Destined For Defilement' was more unique and had a perplexing charm which isn't replicated here, but from a listening perspective, 'Murder Without End' is the superior album. This is most certainly recommended to those who like their death/grind abstract but in a wholly unobvious way; this is, like all Fleshgrind, an album that reveals more with every listen.
MURDER WITHOUT END, the latest offering from US Death Metallers Fleshgrind can be summed up in one word: BRUTAL.
One look at either the band name, album title, or artwork, and you know exactly what Fleshgrind have to offer. Straight from the same school that brought us Exhumed, Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, and the like comes this Chicago-based band who, although they cut their first demo, HOLY PEDOPHILE ten years ago, are only on their fourth album in a decade.
MURDER WITHOUT END is your typical brutal death metal album. Despite a brief, somewhat misleading piano intro, there is not a single light moment on the entire disc. Rather, it is a simultaneous Louisville slugger to the face and kick in the nuts. There’s not a whole lot to say about this album, and even though the songs are each very short, they all start to blend together after the third track or so. If you have ten bucks to spare, and are looking for another brutal death album for your collection, then MURDER WITHOUT END is for you. Myself, I’m gonna go crank up the new Doomsword and Falkenbach albums and leave Fleshgrind for a day when I’m feeling more rage and a shorter attention span.
(originally written by me for www.metal-rules.com, October, 2003)
After over 10 years in existence, Fleshgrind bring us their 3rd album, and in my ears, it's their best yet. Fleshgrind are one of the most elite forcesin todays brutal death scene, very few bands can rival them in being this heavy without boring the listener to death (no pun intended). I'm happy to see Derek Hoffman (ex Gorgasm) still on drums, this guy is one of the best drummers I've ever heard! Rich Lipscomb also sounds more brutal than ever, growling, gurgling, and retching like a maniac throughout the whole album. Production-wise, I can say this is the best Fleshgrind have ever sounded, I personally thought "Destined for defilement" and "The seeds of abysmal torment" lacked a little in production, but this is 100%. The guitars have the best sound I have ever heard for a brutal death release. Do yourself a favour and buy this excellent album, and if you don't like it, get your fucking head checked!
Murder Without End
Rich Lipscomb - Vocals
Steve Murray - Guitar
James Ginenz - Bass
Derek Hoffman - Drums
Fleshgrind is one of the best death metal bands I've heard from Chicago since Broken Hope. Entering the scene in 1993 with their now infamous demo, Holy Pedophile, followed shortly in 1995 with a second demo entitled Sorrow Breeds Hatred...Bleed On Me, they have also released three official albums and a live split EP with Resurrected. Their style of death metal combines just the right amount of brutality and technical musicianship to appeal to old and new fans alike.
There are three key elements that make Fleshgrind stand out from the rest of the death metal out today: Rich Lipscomb's vocals which are reminiscient of Bowels of Repugnance-era Joe Ptacek's wet grunts combined with Chris Barnes; very tight and technical guitar riffs ala Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Broken Hope, while implementing the primal simplicity of Obituary, Incantation and Autopsy; and their brilliant placement of a mellow piano piece at the beginning of the CD.
The drumming is right on par with bands like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and reminds me mostly of Doug Bohn (Suffocation) and Paul Mazurkiewicz (Cannibal Corpse). The double bass is heavy and fast without being sloppy and overused, which I appreciate. For an example of too much double bass, listen to some Krisiun, any album. I dare you.
The production on Murder Without End is surprisingly clear for an underground death metal album. The separation between instruments is phenomenal, and the vocals cut through nice and clean without burying the music. This album also manages to avoid becoming a complete wall of sound, with enough drum breaks and progressions to highlight each riff as it is introduced.
The lyrical content on Murder Without End is stuffed nice and full of your basic death metal topics: porn, violent rape, hacking people into pieces, getting beaten to death...and everyone's favorite, the sex fiend priest. Not that you can understand the lyrics as you listen to the CD, but it's nice to know what you "might" be hearing.
Overall, an excellent new release from the putrid bowels of hell...I mean, Chicago.
01. Murder Without End
03. Duct Taped And Raped
04. Enslaved To My Wrath
05. Displayed Decay
06. Perversion Of Innocence
07. In Sickness Intertwined
08. Libertine Atonement
10. Holy Pedophile 2003