California's Deeds Of Flesh are an immensely important band in the worlds of technical/brutal death metal. Along with Suffocation, they have influenced an entire new generation of bands with their style of music and lyrical themes (aliens, aliens everywhere...). In addition, members of the band founded and still run one of my favourite death metal labels, Unique Leader Records, who currently have many highly regarded death metal bands on their roster in addition to Deeds Of Flesh (Acrania, Beheaded, Gorod and of course, Rings Of Saturn).
After nearly 5 years, I was starting to lose faith that Deeds would ever release another album, but when this was unveiled I felt my prayers had been answered. The only question remaining was "how good will it be?".
Thankfully, my prayers truly were answered and it's great, but now I'm gonna tell you why.
"Amidst The Ruins" kicks in and instantly I know Deeds Of Flesh are back. Lightning fast kick drums, chugging off kilter rhythms, Erik Lindmark's trademark raspy bark. Suffocation style stab riffs used in a unique configuration shows that the band has all their old elements and a newly revived ferocity. Some truly spacey sounding lead melodies on this track really do add to the atmosphere splendidly. "Entranced In Decades Of Psychedelic Sleep" is one of my favourites on the album, there are some great breakdown riffs on this track as well as some truly excellent jazzy basslines. Vocoder effects to provide "alien noises" means this track has some great ambiance to it along with truly excellent musicianship.
"Rise Of The Virvum Juggernaut" was the first teaser track released for the album, and while it may not be the best song on the album in my opinion, it still has a magnificent solo and carries on the concept started on "Of What's To Come" admirably. Next up, "Celestial Serpents" starts with some very spooky sounding alien noises before kicking off with a very fast riff and some excellent drumming from Mike Hamilton as usual. New guitarist Craig Peters (of Arkaik) does an admirable job of keeping up with Erik's riffing and sweeping, while current bassist Ivan Munguia (of Arkaik/Brain Drill) provides some of the best tech-death bass work I've heard in a long time.
"Caelum Hirundines Terra/The Sky Swallows The Earth" is a short ambient interlude (just under two minutes) that helps set the tone for the second half of the album, and while "Xeno-Virus" and "Hollow Human Husks" both have their moments and are each good in their own right, the title track is where it's at.
The title track starts off well and once again builds into some lovely sweeps and melodic leads, and a killer sample from "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Truly a spectacular amalgamation of everything fans love about these guys. Finally we have a Gorguts cover to end the album, which the band performs excellently. It really is nice to hear death metal veterans paying homage to another veteran band that has influenced them.
"Portals To Canaan" starts brutally, ends brutally, and has brutality throughout. If you're a fan of these guys then there's no reason why you shouldn't like this album. To be honest even if the music was terrible I would've given this a half decent score due to the kick-ass artwork (as usual) and the amount of joy I feel that Deeds Of Flesh are back. But this album is in my opinion one of the strongest of their career and should definitely be recognised.
If you like brutal or technical death metal, or death metal of any other kind, try this out. Hopefully you'll enjoy it. Now I've dealt with this I'll be finishing up my Hellfest articles. Catch you all in a day or two. PEACE!
For fans of: Dying Fetus. Suffocation, Severed Saviour
Portals To Canaan is out now on Unique Leader Records