Fleshpress
Hulluuden muuri

Finland’s sickest sludgy scum grinders who happen to have a penchant for Norwegian darkness are back with their 7th full-length release since 1998…and that’s not counting the mountain of demos, splits and EPs that punctuated the interim between albums.  My introduction was the split with Bud Junkees (and even though I dig these guys too), I couldn’t find myself refraining from listening to Fleshpress’ contribution to the disc “Spiral Filter” over and over again.  Though maggot-infested doom permeated the band’s earlier sound, there was always something more sinister lurking in the shadows as Fleshpress combined sludge, doom, grind, black metal, drone and sheer noise to make their malicious point; separating them from the pack almost instantly.  I dig all of their albums plenty but found myself getting the most mileage out of the savage Pillars and the oblique Tearing Skyholes, respectively.

Their latest Hulluuden muuri plays out like a salvo of Grief, Corrupted, Darkthrone, Merzbow, Anaal Nathrakh, Wreck of the Hesperus, Toadliquor, Human Services, Halo and Mistress.  It is literally akin to a fucked-up, warped-beyond belief experience in time; like an alien invasion, Chernobyl and the Philadelphia Experiment all occurring at once in your own backyard.  It’s immediate from opener “Lunastuksen ajan veren riittithat these guys (now a trio) could give a flying fuck less about expectations.  Shedding down their line-up and moving along without a bass player, although I do hear some ultra-low gooey groove down there, this song is a ride through a trash compactor where your every move could very well save you from getting crushed into a bloody box-like shape.  Piercing feedback signals an ice-encrusted blast beat from skinsman Mikko Aspa as Marko Kokkonen and Samuli ooze layers of speedy, hypothermic chords smothered in atonal FX squeals.  The tune moves along at a lo-fi, old school black metal pace with Marko screeching the vocals against a hailstorm of whiskey, formaldehyde and sub-degree arctic temperatures.  Doom-y, bending chord progressions interject the speed but only momentarily with hatred taking full control of the proceedings.  Halted, minimal minor key progressions washed in white-noise and barely tangible attempts at leads (okay, definitely backed by the bass or a guitar run through a bass amp) craft this stalker rape crawl into a place where mercy is the last thing on Fleshpress’ mind.  Mikko sheds his blasts for controlled, deliberate beats punctuated with battle-hardened snare fills and choppy rolls with just enough heft added on the toms for immeasurable weight.  3:44 brings fast paced tempos but with power chords holding down a doom-slavered weight that establishes some sort of loose groove and progressive template to this descent into a Burroughs-like level of drug abuse and madness.  They follow this up with honest to God melody which is a nice touch to wind down the sick, screaming insanity.  This cut culminates with a full on grind breakdown just to let you know the “tender” moments of tuneful of guitar were a thinly-disguised “go fuck yourself.”

“Hulluuden viiltävä lasipinta” enters with an amp-scorched, subterranean drone that sounds like the kind of noise Graboids would make as they descend underground on the quiet town of Perfection.  But man, fuck the comedic undertones of Tremors because this is frightening shit.  It’s a lengthy drone with constant layers of volume swells and FX being added.  Sometimes the static buzz decays completely before a dual, high-end guitar lick enters, stomped into smithereens by a cross-cracking dirge beat.  Everything in this track is drawn out to the nines for maximum atmospheric savagery; an entrancing spray of voodoo zombie powder in the face.  Soon the riff kicks up to a sluggard semi-groove with stick breaking snare fills and scum-eating scream vocals.  For something so drone-oriented, Fleshpress are constantly ratcheting up the intensity by the second.  Plenty of stops/starts abound in the second half until a Babel ascending doom riff rains fire on every living creature in its wake.  Even fuckin’ weirder “Oikeamieliset” is a mess of gothic, funeral pulses with buried death screams drowned beneath the layers of gut-wrench percussion.  It’s reminiscent of Halo or early Godflesh but only about 20 times more pants pissing and shitting.

Opening with guitar textures that sound like Satan’s own private Hammond organ, “Siintävän totuuden häikäisevä kajo” slowly congeals into some immaculately timed sludge riffs filtered through black metal atrocity.  Of all the tunes this one’s got the most relentless, forward pushing sludge/doom drive even if every vocal, texture and instrument is bathed in nihilistic black metal and smoke-choking distortion.  Cleaner melodic chord patterns fight for air against trebly black metal pillow smothering while Aspa goes batshit on his kit with busy doom fluxes and jazzy off-kilter beats.  Though I compared these guys to other sludge, doom and related extreme bands; quite frankly I’m hard pressed to make any sort of point of reference that’s truly this intense and vehement.  Some killer soloing and hallucinatory melodies top this one off to perfection; great work by the twin guitarists all around until the tune culminates in a sloppy slime-bucket blast salvo and nightmarish screams

Closer “Voiman täydellinen toteutuminen” leads in with some atonal, twang-y doom riffs bathed in blues/country influences.  No, I’m not talking fucking Social Distortion here.  It’s a lot more burn-ward material than crutches from a bad night of drinking.  These softer touches are eviscerated thanks to some Jack Frost blasts and mutilated noise-guitar shrieks that only these sickos are capable of.  Their charge through the material stays lively even as the barely tangible riffs drone with descending blasts of pain and a meditative drone atmosphere…all attack but somehow enrapturing if that makes any sense.  Then the vocals kick in and have you reach for the pill bottle and the gun in your bedside desk drawer.  Just when you think Fleshpress will only be using one mode for this one, the sands shift again and the riff reappears ten times as forceful with a catchy arrangement that drops into abyssal bass (or a really low-tuned guitar) tripped out by lighter chords on the second guitar for one of the album’s most restrained yet doom-fucked, psychedelic arrangements.  The ending of this song is such a foul mixture of grinding black metal blast-o-rama and plunging doom that my mom actually told me to turn off.  I didn’t…job well done.  Though I don’t listen to this shit to piss off my parents, I listen to it because I live and breathe it.

There’s not one Fleshpress album that’s not worth a recommend from my camp but alongside Pillars and Tearing Skyholes; Hulluuden muuri is the best thing these guys have ever done.  I’m a lifelong fan since the early days and I’ll never stop listening to ‘em.  This is another one up for this year’s top 10 (and a high position at that).  Check this sick fuckin’ shit out…I’m not even sure my words did it justice.  Props for the cover too because it looks like one of several 8 to 9 gram shroom trips I’ve taken.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
August 8th, 2017

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