Fleshkiller is a name that has not really meant too much in the metal world until breaking into existence a year or more ago. Main member Ole Borud is a former member from metal band Extol, known as one of the biggest acts out of Norway that graced us with their intensity and diversity as a presence on the scene since the days of the mid-’90s.
Being newly signed to Facedown Records has given Fleshkiller a much-needed boost in releasing their material, and nearly of this music, was written by Ole Borud himself. Earlier last year they recruited Elisha Mullins (A Hill To Die Upon) for vocal duties, and a few months later released the band’s first album Awaken.
The new full-length release starts with the first single “Parallel Kingdom” fromwhich you know immediately how much influence Ole had with Extol back in the day. It’s intense from the start, then breaks into a melodic riff with Ole Borud’s signature clean vocals. The highly skilled and tight musicianship of FleshKiller is a quality that is noticed through the first track in its absolute abundance of technique with melodic goodness. Elisha’s vocals are strong and fit in very nicely with the format portrayed.
“Salt Of The Earth” is next, quickly building the momentum, mainly due to the unique creative spark and talents of how Ole likes his arrangements and melodic flair. Progressively, this track sums up the band as a whole, their blend of European death metal is what makes it. A balanced mix of clean and powerful vocals, a tight and melodic groove, plus riffs that flow the song into a well constructed masterpiece. Black metal elements can be heard throughout, with lightning speed strums and technical abilities with aggressive breakdowns that fit with the structures given.
“Wisdom” soars into an element of its own. It’s quick and precisely executed, in their aggression, powerful licks, riffs and melodic backbone. The chorus breaks with Ole’s classic clean vocals which adds memorable quality, equalling his abilities on the guitar. Atmospheric, divine, progressive black metal which includes the creative sinew that makes the song stand out, with a pretty mean solo thrown in for great measure.
“Secret Chambers” is next on the bill, leaning more towards the metal of yesteryear, thinking more towards the late ’80s and early ’90s style riffs to build the foundations of the current trends and abilities set out by the boys. I noticed quite a flow throughout which keeps the momentum going and their vast rhythm changes creates a purposeful structure.
The title track “Awaken” is next in the arsenal, in which the riffs stick to the traditional aspect of bands in the past. I can’t get past the level of creative genius and production quality of the first half of the album. Keyboards and acoustics are more prominent, adding that extra push for a full and bold track.
Then we “Inherit” a more swaying, melodic beast. Most would at a guess say this sounds a bit very Opeth-like in the start to the song (which I love actually) but, still maintaining the technical edge and speed used giving it that rounded edge and a very creative sweet-sounding solo that only great bands can produce. Plus, they even share some extreme downtuned death metal to tantalise the taste buds of any listener.
“Evil Eclipse” carries through with its fast paced aggression, clean vocals and then breaks into melodic overload, tending to have an anthem theme attached in elements dissected. Hinting of a late ’90s Mortification style riff grinder, this song is a force to be reckoned with. Death metal sparks fly.
“True Image” ismore groove oriented with an unforgettable line “Every Knee Shall Bow, Every Tongue Confess, You Are The Holy One!” and its hook arrangements compliment the latter part of the album; it is also impressive with the band’s more contemporary vision at the final stages of the track.
“Warfare” as you would reason with is fast-paced to boot, technically brutal with melodic undertones which fits like a glove to the whole mood through the album, creating the paths to the final phase.
Into the “Window Of Time” we go, with clean and blissed vocals balanced with raw Elisha energy, groove, and melodic intent, a landmark flagship ballad at parts, but still maintaining the intensity – and a final classic solo to throw you in awe.
Finalization is complete!
Christian Sullivan 2018