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'Valor in Hatred' is the fourth attack from death metal axe-wielding Finnish horde Scent Of Flesh (SoF from now on). After two demos and a good debut album, 'Roaring Depths of Insanity', is their steel still sharp?
Oh yes it fucking is! While SoF's music is full of familiarity, it's still hard to pin down certain names. 'Valor in Hatred' is pure old school death metal, with influences from USA (I'd say Deicide, and there's another side to this too, just read on), but mainly from European styles (mostly Central Europe and some Swedish of course). I don't know if this is more unique SoF material, but I got a feeling that it is tighter than 'Roaring...' era material. Crunchy riffing, excellent leads, fine solos and what mostly pleases me here, fantastic twin guitar leads, are manna for my ears. Memorable death metal is what the band have crafted in here. This doesn't include any cheesy melodies, but evil and obscure ones, as death metal should have. Speed varies from fast to mid-paced stuff and this makes the necessary flow with quite a lot of twist and turns waiting for a listener. Even though this has less songs and duration is longer than the debut's, the songs still range from 3½ minutes to 5 minutes, except the last one, which ends with a 7-minute chanting/ritualistic part. You'd be for sure humming it after the album is over. At some points I got a feeling that I've heard some part during the album already, so some more variety might work wonders.
The band's performance is solid and every guy handles his part well all the way through the album. As I mentioned, guitar duo of Herkko Miikki and Matti Viisainen handle their stuff very well indeed. Vocals are demonic, and here's the other Deicide link. Deep, harsh growls of Niko Ahokas often get Mr Viisainen's higher pitched growl as a partner and vóila, the demonic effect is in work. Lyrical offering is typical death metal stuff, just read the song titles. 'The Art of Beheading' is topical; "prisoners of war waiting for decapitation"... Rhythm section of Sofian Gezuri (bass) and Antti Suikkanen (drums) are usually well employed. Once again the band worked with producer Miitri Aaltonen at Music-Bros Studio. This time the production is thicker and heavier than on earlier recordings. While this is thicker, every instrument has its space. Guitars are shredding and metallic. Who doesn't love those reverberant solo and lead guitars? Drums, especially the snare, sounds a bit stiff, but only during fast beats (rolls and blast beats). Otherwise the sound is good for a death metal album. Now the album looks better and won't be left on racks because of its cover art (the debut's cover was, mildly said, trite).
In 'Valor and Hatred', SoF have a solid piece of death metal. While the debut album's songs were crafted during a long period, these 8 songs still sound well-honed and do not pale when compared to the older material. Both albums have their highlights. If you're a death-head, try this now.
(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2004)
This album has a combination of atmospheres and sounds that are eerily similar. The first resemblance is to Deicide in terms of a Satanic vibe even if these guys are not Satanists. The album is filled with quick riffs, and demonic shouting vocals that remind me of Glen Benton on “Deicide” or “Legion.” The second relation is to Slayer (Who Deicide pretty much ripped off). The riffs are Slayer, the melodies are Slayer, and the solo’s are a less insane Slayer. Even the last song “The Last Awakening” is 13:11 of the same stuff I heard on the previous 7 tracks just longer and filled with melodic filler and clean vocals starting at about the 6:00 minute mark. I almost fell asleep from boredom even though the song is supposed to have bit of a Celtic folk tranquility.
“Mike does that mean this albums sucks,” you ask? Well, yeah, it is not the most creative thing I have ever heard especially on a second release that should be better than the first. Analytically speaking if these guys are using a formula to attain success then they are a dismal failure. This is for the reason that many are the Slayer and Deicide rip offs and those bands that do it blatantly either suck donkey sack or are uninspired. Either way what happens is that a guy like me buys this disc, feels ripped off for getting it, then throws it on the shelf to be later sold for $2 at the local disc store. At least I can get more use out of a pack of rolling papers I bought for $2 bones.