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You know the stuff when a death metal band gets older, they suddenly want to try some mellower things in their music, and they slow down and whatever. They become old. Finland's torturer Scent Of Flesh reached the point of their 3rd full length album last year. Instead of trying out some mellow things, SoF did it the more brutal way!
It's blast right from the start, as 'Living but Stillborn' bursts from speakers. Relentless tornado of tempo changes, screeching guitars and demonic vocals welcome listener to another riff-laden and beat-stacked beast. Once again, the band packed their many influences into one, and came out with an interesting album. There's blasting breakneck speeding, as well as mid-paced pounding heard. This can't be said to sound solely like North American or European death metal, but is a mixture of both. US bands like Deicide and Malevolent Creation come to my mind while spinning this, and I think there are quite a lot of Finnish death metal influences, deliberate or not. As well as Swedish ones. Anyway, 'Deform in Torture' is good background blasting, but it offers so much more for those who are willing to dive into it, because the band use so many different styles and means. It's not a mess, but well-proceeding stuff and I believe it offers more to be found than many a death metal albums released nowadays. And surely there's pretty straightforward songs, too.
Even though the band went through some line-up changes, they've kept it together well. Vocals are now handled by the forming guitarist Matti Viisainen, who has been heard in backing vocals on earlier releases. His growl is deep, reminding me of Adramelech's vocalist, spiced up and overlapped with some more "higher" growls, creating that familiar "demon voices" effect. I bet Matti is responsible for a big part of the music with forming drummer Antti Suikkanen. This is simply SoF, just now it's tightened and more into-the-point.
The Miitri Aaltonen production is truly meaty. It's heavy as heck and also very live-sounding. If the low end is big (brutal bass here), then the guitar wall is huge! What a ripping experience. The only thing negative is, that at times the lead guitar work is not so well audible (sometimes accompanied by suitable synthesizer work). Mr. Aaltonen have produced every SoF album to date, and he's done it better every time. Probably thanks to his work with diverse kind of bands. The cover artwork is wicked. Matti Viisainen's paintings are perfect for this kind of music, indeed. Lyrics are good, and killing in the name of religions is the main topic, but there's other suitable stuff.
The third attack from Scent Of Flesh is as incisive as expected. The band's death metal isn't anything like too unique, but believe me, this tramples over many newer releases by legendary acts of the genre.
(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2008)
Now this is something I can get behind. Brutal death metal isn't a form of music that requires a dramatic amount of effort to compose, typically, so it's refreshing to see a band like Scent Of Flesh that's taking a bit more time on their compositions and not releasing thirty minutes of unnecessary breakdowns. While I'm not deeply well-versed with Scent Of Flesh's previous works, from what I've heard, 'Deform In Torture' is a serious step up from the previous couple albums, and stands as one of the better brutal death albums I've heard in a while.
The name of the game here, like with all music that I enjoy, is atmosphere. 'Deform In Torture' is a genuinely atmospheric brutal death metal album. You know, in a style so obsessed with brutality, shouldn't you generally see more artists that carry this concept into the atmospheric realm as well? Unfortunately, such bands are few and far between, but Scent Of Flesh shows that there really is such a style possible. The opening track 'Living But Stillborn' reminds me a lot of the incredibly dark, apocalyptic sound of Darkness Eternal, or perhaps of the grandiosity and melody of Vital Remains. Either way, those held chords in the beginning do much more to drive the album's quality up than an infinite number of slam riffs. Luckily, the atmosphere here isn't like it would be on a Nile record, constrained to a few select moments per song. Each riff on this LP has that warlike feel of Sweden's Aeon, with galloping open strings representing something familiar but strangely untapped in this genre. The very next track, 'At The Stake Of Mercy', continues on such a note, with its background choirs that manage to lack cheese and add a fantastic dynamic to the melodic sections of the song.
Such moments fill the CD, such as the melodic leads on 'Last Act Of Power' or the breath-catching breaks on 'Delusions Of Deity', which all work well in their unique ways to make this album seem even more epic and ambitious with each passing moment. No, 'Deform In Torture' never quite reaches the highs of a band like Darkness Eternal, but it comes damned close in parts, which is a stunning achievement for any artist. Scent Of Flesh understands that brutal is supposed to be a modifier, not a goal, and that melody can and should be used appropriately within the musical context, even in the most savage of compositions. After all, what else could make the ensuing blast beat more savage than the destruction of the fragile melody that preceded it?
'Deform In Torture' is a great album that I recommend to any fans of brutal death out there today searching for atmosphere as well as grotesquerie. This album is a great deal more ambitious and thoughtful than the average BDM album, and it would be a shame for it to go unnoticed.
(Originally written for http://www.vampire-magazine.com)