I’m a sucker for tech death, yet I’m also a picky bastard, all too aware of the downsides that finds bands regularly being swallowed by the pitfalls of the often maligned subgenre. The curiously named Flub arrive with their full-length debut platter of technical wizardry, compiled by current and ex members of established acts, Alterbeast, Vale of Pnath and Rivers of Nihil. Drawing influence from world music, particularly from the Central and South American regions, these intriguing elements add extra pizazz and colour to Flub’s thrashy and synth-laden brand of polished technical death. Yes, while the death metal aggression and brutality are present, it is fairly restrained in favour of a more sprightly and positive energy, creating an almost whimsical atmosphere, including prevalent use of synths and xylophone. This integration adds to the album’s mystical atmosphere but may scare off listeners more interested in hearing a bit more oomph and aggression in their tech death.

As expected, the musicianship is top shelf stuff, with the tight delivery, sweeping melodies and neo-classical embellishments backed by more frenetic and thrashy death metal riffage, bolstered by energetic drumming and a dual high and low vocal approach that adds welcome variety to the equation. The delivery sometimes reminds of a more flowery, technically indulgent The Black Dahlia Murder, although the cheesier aspects of Flub’s formula can be a tad off-putting. Regardless there’s plenty of upsides to the album, despite lingering doubts remaining about longer term replay value.

In the moment, the writing is generally sleek and enjoyable, working best as an extended and pleasingly concise experience, due to the album’s efficiently cutthroat 27-minute duration. “Last Breath” is a fittingly juiced and thrashing opener, delivering high energy immediacy, along with quirky passages and dynamic shifts in tone and tempo. Rapid fire follow-up “Blossom” is another ripping number, though could do without the distracting elements that take some of the potency away from the blasty aggression and up-tempo speed.

Boasting a mix of heft with livewire speed and aggro, closer ”Wild Smoke” largely scales down the grandeur, ending the album on a frantic high note. Throughout the album, the songwriting comes across as engaging enough in the moment, but when the stylish barrage fades there’s little to recall concretely in the memory bank, indicating a shortage of deeply penetrating hooks. This is a common problem with tech death, so hopefully on future releases the band can harness their skills to craft songs with greater staying power and general memorability.

Flub crafted a fun and accessible album with this confident self-titled effort. Although the indulgent aspects of their sound aren’t especially overdone, the somewhat questionable flourishes and musical experimentation occasionally proves distracting and a bit too cheesy for my tastes, while the songwriting struggles to leave a lasting impression. Nevertheless, Flub is a solid album of efficient and colourful tech death for avid fans of the style.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
July 30th, 2019


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