Revisiting the Classics: Fleshcrawl – Descend Into the Absurd

When one hears the name Fleshcrawl, the first thing that comes to mind is the legendary Autopsy song from Mental Funeral, yet a very peculiar German band carries that name. Descend Into the Absurd marks their highest peak musically and rightfully so. Taking more from the fully formed European style of the time that was influenced by Autopsy than Autopsy themselves. Combining Doom dirges that exude morbidity and flowing pensive phrasal riffs, Fleshcrawl create a forgotten classic and an important addition to Death metal.

Like the Swedish bands the note selection varies between pure chromaticism and the natural minor scale with chromatic notes that the band develop even more by allowing the chromatic notes to lead into both variants of the natural minor scale. The harmonic minor scale which was only starting to get recognition as a powerful tool for instilling mood at the time of this release, is on full display as it is fully explored in the interplay between the slower chords and the impressive lead guitar. The melodic minor through its inherent jazziness is used only sparingly to color the lead guitar and adds tension during certain chords when the band goes into complete Doom mode.

The individual performances stand out well due to the amount of breathing room these compositions contain making every little transition in the drums and bass stand out. The drummer does not seek to steal the spotlight but escapes from the time keeper rôle by varying his fills and utilizing his extended vocabulary to really define the mood without ever defying the movements of the guitars. During more pensive parts the drummer won’t allow his hands the freedom to evoke chaos but when the songs reach their climax, the drummer hits his snares and toms with fury. A very interesting performance by Bastian Herzog that deserves as much attention as the guitars. An undervalued performance from Alex Pretzer on vocals, a powerful growl pushed against the top of the palette that stays within the lower parts of the mid range and resonates through the chest and throat. The vocals do not stray too far in pitch except when other band members join in “Perpetual Dawn” and “Festering Flesh”. The lack of artificial compression allows for variations in volume and intent to be heard perfectly as the vocals will remain consistant and almost soothing during certain parts to show the dialogue that this narrator is having with himself but during the frantic passages, the growls become louder and have much more urgency and escape the well defined cadences that are very effectively used and particularly memorable on tracks like “Infected Subconscious” and “Lost In Grave”. The lead guitar is very expressive and does not use the noise tactics typical of many bands in the genre but creates grand majestic melodies that push the motifs underneath to either resolve or to further convey the emotions being conjured by the rhythm guitar. There are all the tremolo tricks present but are used uniquely to make interesting melodies that do not seek to conquer the music. All performances here are impressive and contain far too many nuances to be covered in one piece.

The compositions seek at first to introduce a motif like all good Death metal before going through a different iterations until it is deconstructed in the form of a simple tremolo picked melody or a slow power chord sequence. From that point the options of the Death metal riff maze are completely open and what happens is then dependent on the composition itself. The band seek to complete every pensive moment presented here with a powerful realization and then action emanating from that realization. By doing so they show that all thoughts regarding death and the fragility of life must lead to an grand act otherwise they do not benefit the individual concerned with such thoughts.
Fleshcrawl differentiate between the notion of an unrestrained climax and a conclusion which signifies a certain form of stability as all the possibilities have been explored and the piece ends on a motif that has gone through modulation to end the track on a specific truth that can only be achieved through the process of intense concentration followed by an unstoppable will to reach that truth through whatever means necessary. Fleshcrawl may seem like a band that simply alternates between fast and slow sections but from that dichotomy the band has opened a wide number of paths to explore freely.

Descend Into the Absurd is a forgotten classic of the genre and should not only be remembered for being from a country more known for its Speed metal than Death metal but as a unique adaptation of the Swedish that has forged a unique identity despite of how overtly it shows its influences to the world. Fleshcrawl would never recapture the magic found on this record but would turn their heads towards more anthemic Heavy metal based Death metal and releasing a rather well executed Demilich cover. Overshadowed by other great classics released during this time period has not hindered this group’s legacy and they stand upon the pantheon not at the highest summit but from a comfortable position visible only to those willing to explore untrodden paths.

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17 thoughts on “Revisiting the Classics: Fleshcrawl – Descend Into the Absurd

  1. Chris says:

    It’s good. Never listened to this band before.

  2. Finnish death metal was the pinnacle of death metal says:

    This album never gets old, it’s one of the pinnacles of death metal for its subtleties. What really amazes me is how well the cymbals here are used. It has amazing leads and everything here is top notch.

  3. Lance Vig. says:

    I dunno I blame these guys for shit like cruciamentum and grave miasma. Boring.

    1. Saul says:

      so what’s interesting according to you Lance?

      1. Lance Vig. says:

        Currently VALKYRIE

        1. High Speed Reality Denial says:

          I decided to check this out after remembering your woke review of Trannyvanian Hunger. Is this the stoner band Valkyrie? Cuz damn Viggsy, I’m not sure what you’re on about this one.

          1. Lance Vig. says:

            Fuck no dude. Peep Deeds of Prowess.

            1. High Speed Reality Denial says:

              Featuring my boy Ed Warby, nice

  4. To Whom it May Concern says:

    There`s a full analog remix of Skepticism debut Stormcrowfleet.

    1. Flying Kites says:

      What’s a full analog and what’s different from the original?

      1. very very very says:

        I guess he means it was remastered using the original analog tapes.

        What’s different is much clearer, less muddy/bassy sound, synths higher in the mix. Pretty good if you ask me, regardless if you prefer it to the original.

        1. Flying Kites says:

          So it will sound much better on a boom-box. Kool!

      2. To Whom it May Concern says:

        Skepticism’s debut album from 1995 is a funeral doom classic. This new edition is newly mixed from the original tape reels by Anssi Kippo and supervised by the band.

        “Stormcrowfleet was originally released in 1995. Until now the album did not exist on vinyl. Instead of taking the easiest route we wanted to make the vinyl version the best it can be. We bought the multi-track tapes at the end of the recording sessions back in the day and have
        stored them for possible later use. This use became the Stromcrowfleet reissue – not just a vinyl edition but a complete remix of the album from the original recordings.

        In the remix sessions nothing was added or changed in the original recordings. The mix was done at Astia-studio with high quality analog equipment. In fact most of the equipment used did exist already in 1995. What did not exist back in the day was more than two decades of audio
        engineering tradition dedicated to processing extreme metal. In this process that tradition manifested in the form of Anssi Kippo – multiple award winning producer who handled the mixing in co-operation with the band members. In short the target was not to do a different mix but one
        with the original vision for the album with better equipment and engineering.”

        1. wanderer says:

          what dullness putting all this in the comment section of fleshcrawl’s debut classic… unbelievable dumb, that goes also for the way you advertise… i guess you do some telephone marketing too, call up some idiocratics to sell them remastered funeral doom

          1. Cynical says:

            Off-topic or not, it’s still a more useful comment than anything else that’s likely to be posted here.

  5. LordKrumb says:

    Thanks for re-opening my ears to this excellent album.

    No idea why I sold my CD copy of it (many years ago). I guess I was less appreciative of subtlety then.

    Looking at Fleshcrawl’s discography on Metal Archives, I didn’t know they’d made so many albums after “Descend Into the Absurd” (notably, most of which include a cover track, e.g. Demigod, Demilich, Slayer). I had a quick listen to some of those follow-up albums on YouTube, and my first impression is that the band degraded into decent but rather run-of-the-mill aggressive death metal after their debut.

  6. Steve says:

    This album is a must-have. It belongs in the collection of every true metalhead…

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