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Intricate Deeds Done Plain Brilliant - 100%

bayern, June 9th, 2017

The first thing I heard from Deeds of Flesh was the “Crown of Souls” album in 2005. I found it a fairly decent effort faithfully following the trajectory carved by acts like Suffocation, Cryptopsy, Nile, etc., but it wasn’t anything truly striking to make me listen to it repeatedly for days on end. I certainly checked out their earlier catalogue, and appreciated their work within the technical death metal sector albeit again it was all competent and professionally done, but nothing extraordinary.

When the album reviewed here came out, I was by no means the first man on Earth to rush to the store and purchase it. In fact, it was more than two years later when I decided to give it a listen, out of mere curiosity, and also because I saw the CD at a friend of mine’s house. And boy, was I lucky to check it out; this is one of the very rare cases when contemporary practitioners manage to re-invent themselves to such an extent that they make a determined statement of intent that deafens even the ones made by the biggest players on the field. And the guys definitely needed it since not many fans were taking them seriously until that point regardless of their fairly long presence on the arena. More than ten years since their inception the band were here to be accounted for, and they were not going to take “no” for an answer…

And it was a resounding “Yeeees!” they must have heard from all corners of the world. The band’s style earlier was interesting, quite fast and brutal, but pretty formulaic intricate death metal that wasn’t radically different from the one exercised by the masses, even less so in the new millennium with hordes of riff-mongers roaming around. So what’s to come here is a superb mazey tapestry with some of the finest, both technical and melodic, riff-patterns to grace the field of recent years. The brooding calm rhythms at the beginning of “Waters of Space” already bode something different, something that would break the mould with a dash of super-stylized leads as well before a dense riff “salad” commences moving forward in a patient, not very rushed manner with amazing spastic technical licks that would make even heroes like Anata and Spawn of Possession envious; a most eventful journey through “water” and “space” finished with gracious virtuoso accumulations. “Eradication Pods” is a dramatic shredder with mazey staccato riffage and abrupt outbursts of super-fast intricacy those matching every ounce and fibre from Necrophagist’s “Epitaph” and some more, the dazzling fretwork bordering on the surreal. “Unearthly Invent” is the next in line display of otherworldly guitar wizardry which would impress every producer from Shrapnel who wouldn’t have had second thoughts on signing the first death metal formation in their history; a smattering array of tempo shifts and time-signatures await the listener who may get dizzy at some stage with the inordinate amount of riff applications passing through his ears within the span of mere 3.5-min.

The title-track acquires more ambitious, progressive proportions although the riff-formulas remain on a stupendously technical level, but more flexible structures have been introduced those echoing Theory in Practice except that the guys here can’t sit still without changing the rhythmic leaps and bounds every few seconds including several attempts at less controlled blast-beats which try to race with the supreme melodic lead sections, to no success. “Virvum” is a vortex of exceedingly stylish riff-patterns the band slowing down more frequently here trying to evoke more drama with another introduction to more progressive digressions, and this “therapy” seems to produce the desired results as the guitar wizardry becomes marginally more linear and accessible. “Century of the Vital” is an overwhelming concoction of overlapping guitar acrobatics which distinguished match these ears are yet to come across; expect a hallucinogenic gathering of riffy whirlpools which main motif is changed rather unexpectedly, but always in a compelling, pleasantly surprising manner. “Harvest Temples” emphasizes on speed and very dynamic labyrinths where even interesting bass parties can be come across amongst isolated “oases” of more moderate shredding. “Dawn of the Next” tries to restore some balance with a bigger sense of melody, and marvellously succeeds with the inclusion of several more lyrical respites where the leads help a lot as well. “Infecting Them with Falsehood” is the glorious epitaph to this most tantalizing saga the guys not betraying their highly effective style with the final myriad of time and tempo changes which come piled in quick succession for “dessert” with a bit of chaos getting instilled the band intentionally complicating the environment with this exiting mass of numerous very technical escapades.

Although the technical death metal genre experienced several earlier peaks: Necrophagist’s “Onset of Putrefaction (1998), Theory in Practice’s “The Armageddon Theories” (1999), Martyr’s “Warp Zone (2000), Psycroptic’s “The Scepter of the Ancients” (2003), Crimson Massacre’s “The Lustre of Pandemonium” (2005), Anata’s “The Conductor’s Departure” (2006), Spawn of Possession’s “Noctambulant” (2006), not to mention the regular contributions made by Suffocation, Cryptopsy, and Nile, it seemed as though the genre was waiting for someone to sum it up in all its entirety before branching out into the unexpected and the spaced out which actually happened shortly after this album’s release. That someone had to be an unsung hero, one that hasn’t been in the spotlight, not having hordes of fans, ideally also having a couple of efforts in their discography. Deeds of Flesh perfectly fitted the profile and also provided the huge element of surprise as there was hardly a dozen fans out there who were looking in their direction anticipating one of the finest death metal opuses of the new millennium. Listening to this effortless downpour of creativity and genius one may find it hard to believe that those were the same guys who had created six (!) whole albums before this one, with the delivery bordering on the pedestrian and the generic more than just occasionally. There’s not even a single formulaic note here which may be the worst nightmare for some fans whose body parts will get entangled and twisted after the first three tracks. The abundant provision of intriguing, outlandish musical decisions may come as too much for some who may not be able to see through the thick technical miasma, and may label the whole saga as one big pretentious show-off…

With very technical exhibitions like the one here there’s always the danger of oversaturation with so much music served within a relatively short period of time; a feat usually done by novices who know that they might not get another chance to enter the studio, and rush to pour all their ideas and visions into this only recording. Deeds of Flesh obviously don’t belong to this category, and I guess it’s always better to see veterans outdoing themselves after a string of not very impressive showings, rather than newcomers putting the whole pleiad of “old dogs” to shame. Although to talk about the culmination of the whole genre attained within these 40-min may be a bit far-fetched since this can hardly be mission accomplished in this lifetime, there’s no denying the fact that the band composed something truly outstanding, a masterpiece that placed them on the very front of the movement making them an important factor in the current and future evolution of the genre.

The follow-up was very important as it had to consolidate the guys’ position, and “Portals to Canaan” (2013) was another grand opus with a bigger influence from the pure progressive metal field, but still firmly staying on death metal ground, removed from the transformational campaign that started a few years back and is still going strong. The technical dexterity is pretty much intact, but it alternates with more laid-back elements more regularly as the focus is not so much on hyper-active rifforamas and head-shaking dynamics, but on more carefully crafted compositions with more diverse, less aggressive sketches added to the template. The portals to greatness were opened nine years back; they still are, and what’s to come through them in the future, that even the most perspicacious Canaan oracles would find hard to foresee.

Don't Expect Anything New - 70%

ExNihilos, April 22nd, 2010

Californian technical death metal has a pretty staple sound: it's fast, brutal, and a serious amount of wank. This sort of death metal is starting to get really tiring, but it still has its moments. Of What's To Come is a prime example of this. Deeds Of Flesh employ the same aforementioned style that they're known for and helped popularize, and while Of What's To Come is pretty predictable, it's got some interesting ideas buried under it's sleek metallic skin.

The first thing any listener should notice is the squeaky-clean production. Some death metal fans aren't big on this mechanical, ultra-calculated and refined sound. For me it completely depends on the subject material and what the band was going for. If there's a degree of atmosphere in the music where such production techniques would fit, then I'm all for it. The biggest problem with it is that it lacks any and all aggression, and that is a problem on On Of What's To Come. It's really hit or miss with different tracks. This sound works quite well on tracks like “Virvum,” “Century Of The Vital,” “Harvest Temples,” and “Eradication Pods” where you can feel the sky lighting up with the multicolored flames and weaponry of alien warships. However on some tracks this doesn't work at all and I feel like I'm actually listening to a bunch of computerized guitar noises. This is most noticeable on “Dawn Of The Next” where the guitar manages to get downright annoying at times. The production and the concept album-style lyrics about space and humanity's place within a greater, much more destructive universe work well together (although one could argue that it has become quite cliché). Another thing to note is that the last song on the album, “Infecting Them With Falsehood” doesn't follow the concept at all and really doesn't serve as a good closing track.

The bass also does a great job of accompanying the guitar and vocals. It's audible on nearly every track (unlike in previous Deeds Of Flesh releases), and it's clearly not just trying to be a third guitar like it is in most metal bands. The high pitched basslines take away from the foundation that this album is seriously lacking, but really add to the “high-tech/post-apocalyptic space war” vibe that Of What's To Come has going for it. The drumming is also pretty run-of-the-mill with the generic death metal fills, blast beats, and double bass littered throughout. There's plenty of neo-classical solos to admire here, and although sometimes they delve into Necrophagist wankery, they fit some tracks quite well. The vocals are also, as with the drumming, completely average. Everything you'll hear has been done before, even by Deeds Of Flesh. I still can't stress enough that there's literally nothing unique here.

All in all this album is pretty standard. A bit above average thanks to the unique basslines and few tracks where the production works, but the weak rhythmic foundation on Of What's To Come really detracts from the overall sound. Those strengths and weaknesses place it firmly in the typical niche of Californian technical death metal and I don't think Deeds Of Flesh is going to deviate any time soon.

Career best, sacrificing no extremity - 80%

autothrall, November 2nd, 2009

Deeds of Flesh have been pummeling away at their extremely brutal style for well over a decade now, but I was never a fan of any of their previous albums. Thus I was pleasantly surprised with their 7th full-length, which sacrifices none of the extremity of the band's roots but presents a more immersive, interesting slugfest.

From a production standpoint the band have always had a very punchy style to their riffing, a lot of chugging in syncopation with the insane drumming. This is accented here with the crazy bass playing of Erlend Caspersen (of Blood Red Throne, Decrepit Birth, Vile, Dismal Euphony and many others). This time out, many of the riffs are fantastic, producing a hostile landscape of brutality. Many of the songs here are great, I found myself re-listening to "Virvum", "Century of the Vital" and "Eradication Pods" numerous times yet. I really enjoy the horrific/sci-fi theme here, and the fantastic cover art.

In a year that has seen an onslaught of quality brutal death releases, veterans Deeds of Flesh add another to the queue with what I consider their career highlight thus far. Enjoyable through multiple spins, and highly recommended to fans of Psycroptic, Severed Savior, Cryptopsy, Odious Mortem and others.


I will never 'get' this. - 61%

TheSunOfNothing, October 1st, 2009

First and foremost, this is the latest release from an uninventive technical death metal outfit, and it's basically everything you've come to expect from modern tech death these days. I'm not one of the purists who calls this new ultra-tech scene bad, but when it's bland and boring, as this is, it really lowers my faith in the modern death genre.

Deeds of Flesh deserve no respect at all, other than the fact that there are a few sweet solos and some cool sounding tech riffs here and there. The vocalist is utter shit, as he does absolutly nothing not expected (although on a rare ocassion he will pick the song back up with a cool vocal pattern, like at 3:40 in "Of What's To Come") and he alternates soley between (terrible) death grunts and the far overdone double-tracked high vocals that it seems like every band on the face of the earth is doing now (with a few obvious exeptions, like Origin, Necrophagist, and Beneath the Massacre). I can tell this is a concept album, as the word "Virvum" appears constantly (also the title of a song) and because every single song is about astronomical crap. I don't have a problum with non-gore lyrics, or even astronomical lyrics for that matter, it's just when there appears to be no thought put into the lyrics I grow tired. Such is the case here, as whoever wrote these lyrics must be OBSESSED with the apocalypse/planets.

The bass is the only truly noteworthy instrument, as it is actually audible! When he is, he is following the guitar, with a few exeptions ("Dawn of the Next"). He also does some cool bass shred fills (2:00 into "Harvest Temples") here and there. The guitarist has shredding skill, but put him next to Muhammad Suicmez and he's just wasting Muhammad's air. This dude may have talent as far as shredding goes but he has no sense of melody in anything but the solos, and there are hardly any riffs that just make you want to scream "FUUCK" and punch a scene kid in the face (final riff to "Thrones of Blood" by Suffocation, first riff from "Hammer Smashed Face", etc.) Memorability is a big thing in the riff department for me, and unfortunatly here there hardly any. The drummer is low in the mix behind the far too loud guitars, and there are no parts where he shines.

The best track on here is between "Eradication Pods" and "Dawn of the Next", but the rest all kind of flow together.

While this album is majorly flawed, it still has some cool things which land it at a 61 instead of a 14 like I gave it the first time. In honesty, the only reason I can see how one could aquire this is through listening to it in the store and liking it, but being immediatly disappointed after the purchase. I don't suggest you buy this, as everything it represents and more are represented better of Origin's "Antithesis".

Average modern death metal - 60%

stonedjesus, December 2nd, 2008

Deeds of Flesh is an incredibly boring band, they almost always have been. Aside from 'Path of the Weakening' a solid brutal death metal album, they are mediocre and more redundant and bland than most of the "popular" brutal death bands around these days.

On Deeds' last album their tedium reached an all time high, a level of monotony that even Lindmark and his tone deaf posse noticed. They needed to kick things up a notch. In the three years since Crown of Souls the diddly-tech brutal-noodle bang bang sweepy little richard tap dancing style of death metal is ever increasing in popularity. What direction does Deeds' take? Well, they try what Odious Mortem and Decrepit Birth tried recently... a slippery mess of the usual brutal death chugga guitar riffs and some slower attempts at melody and tempo variation. To overshadow their lack of ideas, they "shred" with silly fruitcup guitar solos and some twiddly "tech" riffs.

The aformentioned guitar riffs are not bad, I mean the one song I'm sure you'll sit through will say everything about the album. Why? Because they all sound the same, there is no variation. Deeds of Flesh is still that simple minded, uninspired modern day Cannibal Corpse they always have been, they just continue to dilute themselves to stay somewhat relevant. That said, the major improvements are blatant on this new album. First and most important is the production is finally balanced and at least inching above the borders of mediocrity they've never dared cross. The drums sound good, guitars are reasonably defined, and the bass is along for the ride. It really is just the riff writing that falls flat. I almost wrote "songwriting" but these aren't songs. They are, like most brutal death, fatigued instrumental exercises with no real direction.

It's a samey mess of decently recorded brutal death metal that tries to be technical. At it's best some of these riffs sound like they could have been on Morbid Angel's "Gateways..." album, but a brief semblance to a decent album doesn't cut it. Nice try, but overall another mediocre record from a band with little to no creative ability.

Absolutely Amazing - 100%

somelongdivision, November 26th, 2008

With each Deeds of Flesh album the band reaches new levels of technical brilliance and “Of What’s To Come” is no different. This year seldom few bands have released something as powerful and unique as DOF’s new work. Since 1993 they’ve soldiered through the underground forging their own sound. Much like “Crown of Souls” DOF’s new release is saturated with furious riffing of unrivaled complexity and diversity, however “Of What’s To Come” isn’t just more of the same. This release demands repeat listens, the songs are so heavily layered that each time you sit down with the album you discover something new.

Erik’s guitar has never sounded this practiced and fluid, it is truly something to behold. Hamilton’s drumming is above reproach, and each track proves his ability to create layered rhythmic textures shrouded in complexity. Erlend’s musicianship is phenomenal bringing the bass out from behind the typical wall of sound where it resides, weaving intricate patterns that compliment the overriding structure of each and every song. This is perhaps DOF’s most ambitious work and is a welcomed addition to their library of work. DOF continue to be the saviors of the underground, never disappointing their fans and constantly working to better themselves as musicians…and when you’re at the level their at it isn’t such an easy feat.