guest article by Svennerick
A fan favourite and the band’s third offering Path Of The Weakening whichalso the first record released through the band’s own label which showed the comeback of former drummer Joey Heaslet and the inclusion of second guitarist, Jim Tkacz completing the line-up and giving the band an even more thicker and dense sound.
This helps a lot with the nature of the record, which is arguably their most atmospheric material written, due to the fact that the music here focuses on one homogenic mood which is interpreted through various riffs and the addition, subtractions and variations of their motifs
The vast majority of the riffs showcased here make use of very intense and exhausting tremolo picking across multiple strings, while always returning to their main idea before mutating into the next set of riffs. This method of telling a story with the help of musical tools gives the songs a very linear and extremely overwhelming aura. As this is the case with most of Deeds Of Flesh’s music, the listener will find riffs which appeared before in a song once he absorbed the wall of busy playing and almost never ending lunacy that rages in those tracks. The exclusion of repetition doesn’t mean that the songs will go nowhere since the writing makes sure that every song reaches it’s climax like on “I Die On My Own Terms“, where the composition is concluded with a very spastic and hyperactive riff, ending the story of a serial killer’s suicide not with melancholy, but with pure abrasiveness and brutality, which is conveyed through the start-stopping playing of all instruments and the trade between the root note of the riff and large intervals.
An interesting addition to the band’s sound is the integration of resting power chords or longer intros, like in the title track or “Execute The Anthropophagi“, which are the only two moments of almost complete silence within this album. The aforementioned resting power chords give of a very strong Morbid Angel feeling, especially the final track “A Violent God“ which sounds like a homage to Morbid Angel’s classic track “God Of Emptiness“. The song functions in a fixed tempo, similar to a scaffolding, while the song sets the mood through the use of resting tritones and then adding fast picked chromatic lines afterwards. As the track goes on the addition of various drums fills and pinch harmonics sharpen the image of the judging, punishing god, before the band returns to the initial theme, giving the album a last strong impression.
As the last track is rather unusual since it’s simply an outro and has pitch shifted spoken word vocals, I now want to focus on the implementation of the slower bits in the regular songs. Since the title track holds one of my personal highlights within death metal and symbols everything mentioned in this article up to this point, I will describe the realisation of mood conveyed through text and music and how tightly they can be linked.
“Path Of The Weakening” deals with the destiny of the Donner Party, a group of settlers which got surprised by the winter while wandering through the mountains of Sierra Nevada. Eventually the group started to resort to cannibalism or selected people to search help in order to overcome their struggles.
We’ll die by then
The snow must melt
When the food runs out
The forlorn hope was formed
Elderly people sacrificed themselves
To find help or become food
For the starving
For the young
They drew sticks to see who would
Get eaten first
And who would
Challenge the cold
To find help
The second verse here is sung while a slow riff succeeds the spastic riff after the intro. The slow riff is build by the left guitar ringing out a disharmonic chord after quickly playing palm muted power chords and the right guitar adding a pinch harmonic at the end of the beat and then joining together for the first three palm muted power chords to return to the disharmonic chord again, although the pinch harmonics now switch sides, so the left guitar adds the squeal at the end of the beat this time. This slow riff is followed by a fast tapping lick on the low D String, which is shifted a semitone down in it’s second repetition. Then those two parts return again and the song moves on to describe the burden of choosing people by luck and does that by playing long melody passages in the lower register.
As someone who wasn’t with the band during the writing process it’s hard to assume if there was any conscious decision to link a certain passage of the lyrics with a certain riff, but after listening to this song countless times on a daily basis I always experience a dream-like experience while the things slow down for a few seconds, so it’s not too far fetched to assume that this dream-like vibe comes from the relief the younger members of the group experience since the elderly sacrifice themselves in order to help. The fast tapping can be seen as the urgency of doing something as an old person in favour of the greater good.
The level of care and detail in the described riff is astonishing and combines everything one does assume and feel while hearing this record. What makes this music even more punishing is that Deeds Of Flesh show us human desperation and perversion in it’s most ugliest and desperate shape, while not glorifying death or murder, but just by depicting human decisions that will result in death either way. Whether the judge “gives you death” and you “swan dive of the sink” or you sacrifice yourself or freeze to death, every situation results in the only thing defeating humans. I also experience that this record sets its’ stories in the 19th Century, considering the title track and the vibes you get from tracks like “Execute The Anthropophagi” or “Indigenous To The Appalling”, already showcasing extreme personalities in the beginning of our modern culture.
In just three weeks of writing Erik Lindmark and his extremely skilled band created arguably the best record brutal death metal has to offer. The music is in American Death Metal fashion with it’s intricacy and hyperactive playing, but the riffs on their own borrow a lot European extreme metal as well, considering those are tremolo picked melodies which create mood and atmosphere, while sprinkles of the strong rhythm oriented US style remains. What makes Path Of The Weakening brutal and punishing is not the explicitness of it’s contents, it’s rather the reality and the fact that some of us truly walk though such desperate and dark corners of their mind.
Rest in Peace Erik Lindmark!