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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.