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The Engineered Flesh - 50%

pfm, December 22nd, 2013

I have heard some of Lyfthrasyr's earlier work and was looking forward to see what they came out with for their third full length album, but I was not prepared for the soulless industrial/electronic blackish metal onslaught they have served up. Some of the symphonic and melodic elements remain, however they have largely been replaced by something approaching techno. Of course, The Engineered Flesh is a concept album with every track touching one aspect or another of man merging with machine, so an industrial approach might have seemed appropriate, and to be fair there are things to like about this release.

Aggreash has an excellent set of vocal chords and for the most part uses them well throughout the album. His bilious growls are the highlight of the release, except on Preserved Identity which is annoyingly sung three syllables at a time and contains dubstep-like wobbles. The lyrical content is quite interesting, telling the story of mankind's quest for perfection through technology applied to life. "Our soul is lost the moment we die / but on nanotechnology we rely / the cells are renewed diseases are fought / eternity is a desirable thought." Pretty cool stuff.

Nefastus' drumming must be mentioned as it is a good example of where this album goes wrong. Technically sound, this guy hammers out ferocious blast beats left right and centre. However his overproduced and polished approach feels mechanical and lifeless. Which again, fits with the theme of the record but isn't very enjoyable to listen to. As a general rule, metal needs emotion to be successful. There are of course plenty of exceptions, but this album is not one of them. It isn't until the final track that we get our first taste emotion, as we hear about a man who accepted the 'upgrades' and modifications outlined in the rest of the CD. They have not gone well for him, his mind works and he cannot die but his body is unresponsive and he struggles for mobility.

As of this release, I don't think we can call Lyfthrasyr a black metal band anymore. Which is fine, I'm all for progress and experimentation but by nature experiments aren't always a success. Which is not to say that The Engineered Flesh is a failure as an album, I'm sure it will find an audience that appreciates it. It's just that many of these tunes sound like they would get regular play in any of those 'metal' clubs that somehow manage to be filled with cybergoths in lieu of actual metalheads. I will be interested to see where they go from here; whether this was a one off or a permanent style change, and if so whether their next album is a bit less sterile.