What better music to review post intestinal surgery, than classic-style death metal. Morbid Flesh play no-nonsense death metal rooted in 90’s European styles of which we are all familiar. Coming from Barcelona you can hear they absorbed bits from the various metal epicenters around Europe. You’ll hear the groove of the Netherlands, sinister crawl of the Finnish, and pinches of Swedeath in some of the leads and d-beat parts. The cover art features a family of biological grotesqueries sharing scraps of the innards of what I presume is the larger creature they symbiotically live inside. I also imagined these hideous troublemakers as the culprits behind the damage to my own guts. Collecting scrap hunks of flesh, and building narrow points in my intestines to trap food coming down. Begone intestinal cenobites!
Upon my first listen I had two conflicting responses to Rites of the Mangled. I acknowledged that it might be no-nonsense to a fault. That after a fleeting listen it would disintegrate in the vast internet bargain heap of solid metal albums. On the other hand, I was undeniably caught by their slimy waves of grooving momentum and transitions into lurching, wounded passages of draggy death metal. It’s one of those records that could very well discarded if only given a cursory once through listen. There are small details that reveal themselves upon playback. The album comes in swinging with “Circle Cursed”. You hear immediately how Morbid Flesh combine the d-beat charge familiar from so many classic Swedish death metal albums but an Entombed clone they are not. Morbid Flesh spray the coagulated and evil groove more akin to that of Convulse’s World Without God. Especially due to the lurching, but not-quite-doom parts.
The album continues on in this fashion, with the band dropping part after part of the death metal equivalent to movie theatre candy until you stop acting surprised that it delivers a straight catheter of gelatinous junk food to quell your extreme sweet tooth (Somewhere there is a nurse with the story of a guy that admitted themselves to an emergency room from doing this). In this way I could compare it to the delivery of albums like Death’s Scream Bloody Gore or the recent Fatalist The Bitter End. No waiting or having to be a patient listener. Nothing complicated that requires active mental analysis. Just a barrage of immediacy from the moment it starts, right through to the fade out of final track “Evil Behind You”, which ends on a pained solo. Like that of a maimed victim left to futily crawl in agony. Their moans fading as you walk further toward the cave opening and into the crisp wet air at dusk.
If Morbid Flesh got any one thing right it’s the production of Javi Felez and Moontower Studio. The overall tone is round, warm, and and where there might otherwise be space to give each instrument some air it is choked up with thick, noxious digestive fumes filling the gaps between thudding drum strikes, cavernous bass sweeps, and leaky, hemorrhaging guitar riffs. The sound and mixing is the pillar which holds this album up, without which you might unfortunately just have another solid old school death metal demo relic in an already tall pile. One with current and hefty production like this inspires a double take. Seven tracks has always seemed like an odd length for any record. Too long for an ep, too short for a full-length, but Morbid Flesh offer up a lean resume for their craft with no intros, outros, instrumentals, or samples. I commend their approach to a final product. Where your sound might be well tread territory, and competition is high, don’t give the listener a single momentary reason for their attention to be diverted.[Visit the band's website]