Flesh Consumed
Hymn for the Leeches

First and foremost, I would like to give Sevared Records’ Barret Amiss II, a big thanks and shout out for hooking me up, at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, with a copy of Flesh Consumed‘s new album, Hymn for the Leeches. Being that it has been eight years since their previous album (apparently, problems with label Unique Leader, who was originally supposed to release Hymn…, has kept the new album pretty much shelved for the last two and a half years), I was very stoked to see if Hymn for the Leeches was worth the wait. So, was it? Not only is that answer yes, but a clear and resounding, Fuck Yes! In regards to the comparing of the new album to previous efforts, the band does a great job of capturing that flavor of the older releases (especially, Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering ) while clearly, moving forward. Flesh Consumed‘s core integral identity is still in place, while their adroit notability has gone up considerably; mainly due to legendary Ripping Corpse and Dim Mak guitarist, Shaune Kelley’s involvement. Not only does the man lend his invaluable playing services, but he also penned every bit of the music found on Hymn for the Leeches. That alone should be enough to convince any and everyone that this album kicks ass.

Right from the get go it seems as if Hymn… is going to be a bit of a special listen. Album opener/intro, “I Am Your Master”, successfully captures that creepy, sinister, and forboding vibe of spoken word chant a’la Deicide‘s intro to Legion, though with un-backwards vocals and minus the goats/sheep baaing. The band wastes no time in knocking your block off with punishing grooves, as “Bow Before Me” kicks things out with a nice mid-paced attack of churning riff greatness that culls from a Cannibal Corpse meets Pathology meets Morbid Angel sense of awareness. It’s brutal, but not overdone; technical, but just enough to appeal, rather than overwhelm. Honestly, the track isn’t unlike something you would find on Steve Tucker-era Morbid Angel. Throw in a nice lead and what we have here is a proper way to really get this album rolling.

One of my favorites on Hymn… ,“Eulogy Engraved by the Wicked”, is where the hairs on the back of my neck start to stand up though.  The slithering groove and soulful leadwork that start the track are fantastic, working superbly within and off of each other before venturing into some classic Kelley/Ripping Corpse attributes from the 0:36 to the 1:10 mark, then sliding back into that wonderful opening slither and sweet lead. A tiny bit of upbeat thrashiness pops up for a few seconds, as well as some bonafide slam, reminiscent of Disgorge/Pathology, within the last third of the track, pretty much closing things out. “Serpent Amongst Mice” is another great track that continues in getting that blood flowing. The song’s sick, brutal rhythms bring an influential merger of both Corpses, Ripping and Cannibal, as well as the mighty Suffocation, to a tech-death modernity, but with a great old-school flair.

An additional album highlight would be “Alpha Omega”, with its chunky yet angular riffing, tight blasting, and fast and fabulous tremolo runs. The song brings a fattening death crush at the 2:05 mark, whereas a superb Immolation-esque vibe rears its head from the 2:56 to the 3:38, showcasing some slick leads and licks. “Lay Them to Waste”, while technically isn’t  the album closer, it is the last proper song you’re going to hear on Hymn…, and what a wonderful little punisher to bid adieu.  The track is catchy and heavy, crushing and lethal, and full of groove and brutality. Kelley’s signature guitar antics coupled with some great drumwork really propel the song to an upper echelon.

Major accolades go out to the individual players on Hymn for the Leeches, as each member gives quite an impressive performance. Vocalist, Corey Athos’ gutturals are wet and clear, and while not really too varied, are the perfect compliment to the music. I  really appreciate how Athos eschews the typical gore and religious lyrical trappings of most death metal, choosing instead to outpour his disdain for the affinity of humanity across the entirety of the album’s tracks. Drummer, Shane Elwell needs to be given a double high-five for not only his double-kick work, but for his “exactly what the doctor ordered” performance. The man has a brutal, yet tasteful style, knowing when to blast and when to breathe. His playing not only matches well with Kelley’s writing, but adds the right amount of dynamics to much of the already stellar riffs/song structures.

Unfortunately, like a lot of death metal, bassist, Chuy Camacho, gets a bit buried in the mix. Don’t get me wrrong, his presence is clearly there and would be sorely missed if taken away, though his playing is mostly felt as opposed to heard, if you know what I mean. To be fair though, a bright, springy tone or a fretless twang wouldn’t really do the album justice. I think it would be pretty safe to say that Shaune Kelly is one of the best things to happen to Flesh Consumed in awhile. His signature sound and style definitely benefits the band, propelling the group to a higher level, but doing so while respectfully keeping true to the band’s established identity.

I seem to be gushing a bit over Hymn for the Leeches, but for whatever reason this album caught me in just the right way, satisfying most of what it is I look for and enjoy in death metal.  Is it re-writing the book of extremity with something we’ve never heard or experienced before? Of course not; afterall, death metal has been a thriving force for thirty-plus years now and unless you just discovered it for the first time yesterday, I don’t believe finding something “new” and “wholly original” is necessarily realistic. Though if a kick-ass listen of some quality death metal that mixes just the right amounts of brutality, technicality, and groove, or groovtality, as I like to refer to it, is your bag, then this is certainly an album you need to pick up.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
August 16th, 2018

Comments

  1. Commented by: Indignant_n00b

    Digging the embedded track but keeping your album off bandcamp is a huge mistake IMO


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