Deeds of Flesh
Portals to Canaan


3.5
great

Review

by Jacquibim CONTRIBUTOR (57 Reviews)
June 30th, 2013 | 27 replies


Release Date: 05/01/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Although it’s not a complete departure for the band, "Portals to Canaan" is the realisation of a new sound that was strongly hinted at on "Of What’s to Come"

The direction taken by Deeds of Flesh on their newest album – as well as their previous opus, appropriately named Of What’s to Come - is a little bitter sweet. Being so good at what they did, you can’t blame them for seeking challenge by pursuing a different sound, even if they are forgoing a formula that practically guaranteed one excellent release after another. The problem is that while their new hyper-tech direction heralds a new dawn, they’re out of their artistic comfort zone, attempting to rediscover themselves utilising a sound already perfected by bands who probably took cues from Deeds themselves. But although such a task has resulted in a few hiccups on their latest album Portals to Canaan, Deeds have largely succeeded in crafting an album that not only impresses on a technical level, but also distinguishes them from their peers.

Those who’ve listened to Deeds of Flesh’s discography more intently will still notice many parallels between this and their old sound. The completely unhinged tremolo strumming – as if the band jotted down as many riffs as possible and threw them into a blender for good measure – still makes up a notable portion of the guitar work. But scattered in and amongst the madness is a combination of semi-melodic freeboard wizardry, randomly fluctuating sweeps and the occasional chug or two for that extra dab of brutality. Although it’s not a complete departure for the band, Portals to Canaan is the realisation of a new sound that was strongly hinted at on Of What’s to Come. The technical proficiency of the guitarists is undisputable, and the sheer complexity of the music itself merits many listens just so it can be digested thoroughly, but like so many tech bands there are sometimes too many ideas being tackled at once, which inevitably leads to clashing. Deeds of Flesh’s music used to flow like running water, but on Portals to Canaan, one can’t help but notice a number of jarring transitions. Tracks like “Entranced in Decades of Psychedelic Sleep” and the title track mirror their old material by featuring complex but discernible song-writing patterns, while “Hollow Human Husks” feels as if it’s staggering to find a rhythm, constantly stopping and starting as one idea abruptly interrupts another.

Clearly this new tech-oriented sound needs some refining, but thankfully all the potential hallmarks for an incredible album are here. There’s probably no need to tell you that each and every instrumental performance is worthy of praise and brings something to the table. While it tends to annoy the old-schoolers, the clean production - at the unfortunate expense of that cavernous death metal atmosphere – really allows each instrument to shine. The bass doesn’t give the album a very thick lower-end I’m sorry to say, but it’s faint yet constant presence does produce a surprising amount of aesthetic nuances, at many points imitating the guitarists but then oscillating away as if acting completely of its own accord. The drums are brought more to the fore in the mix than any previous Deeds release, and this has its pros and cons. While the obviously superb drumming of Mike Hamilton is now perfectly clear for everyone to hear, I find it annoying to keep repeating myself when I say that drums are meant to underpin the other instruments, not dominate them.

Regardless, the band is obviously vigilant in pursuing a specific sound, and for the most part, it works. Even some of the samples manage to add to experience rather than simply annoy. In the title-track for example, the most grandiose moment on the entire album – a soaring lead coupled by an ominous, yet surprisingly infectious rhythm – is complimented beautifully by Michael Rennie’s classic monologue from the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. The way Deeds can make things as precarious as samples work, as well as the typically ostentatious tech-death noodling is a reason for optimism. Generally the band has an excellent grasp of what works and what doesn’t concerning a sound that is still fairly new to them. The moments where Deeds get it right on this album hit as hard as some of the best tech releases in recent memory, it’s just up to the band to fully flesh out their ideas and make them gel with one and other properly.

Ultimately there is far more good than bad, even if it is unlike Deeds of Flesh to write material that’s – dare I say – a little inconsistent in its execution. There’s definite potential here for Deeds to write an album that’s not only unique but also reflects current developments in the modern death metal scene, they just need to iron out some creases first. Portals to Canaan sees Deeds of Flesh complete the stylistic shift that began with Of What’s to Come, the next step is naturally to perfect what they’re now working with.

3.5/5

Recommended Tracks:

Entranced in Decades of Psychedelic Sleep
Xeno-virus
Portals to Canaan



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user ratings (45)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 30th 2013


14752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Pretty sweet but Path of the Weakening >

Hope you like the review.

Digging: Off Minor - The Heat Death of the Universe

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
June 30th 2013


14752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Its more in line with SoP's first two albums than incurso, but not as ridiculously technical, then again not a lot is.

TheNotrap
June 30th 2013


8109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There's too much going on but the complex song structures remain interesting.
Good review.

Digging: Threshold - For The Journey

Vakarian12
June 30th 2013


3873 Comments


good review jac, pos'd

Pestiferous
June 30th 2013


1312 Comments


samples are cool

Tyrael
June 30th 2013


20901 Comments


Meh

pretty much every modern tech death album just makes me long for a new Anata record

damn it

mindleviticus
June 30th 2013


8292 Comments


I need to listen to anata. All I've heard by them was there colab with Bethzaida

Tyrael
June 30th 2013


20901 Comments


Listen to The Conductor's Departure and be amazed

It's quite different from the normal tech death formula which is why it's one of my fav death metal albums

FrozenVain
June 30th 2013


2445 Comments


^bro
Anata rocks so damn hard.
Listen to The Conductor's Departure and be amazed[2]

Very well written review, Jac. Pos'd

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2013


19926 Comments


nice review man

Digging: Transit - Joyride

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2013


14752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thank you : )

TrueBlood
July 13th 2013


1388 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

So boring

Shuyin
July 13th 2013


11832 Comments


good review, i still gotta check this one tho

kinda like the band

Digging: Yoko Kanno - Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex OST Vol 1

wacknizzle
July 13th 2013


13482 Comments


Good review, reminded me I've been meaning to check this band out. Should I start with Mark Of The Legion?

Digging: This Gift Is A Curse - I, Gvilt Bearer

Shuyin
July 13th 2013


11832 Comments


yea or Crown Of Souls, thats my fav by them

lots of fun

wacknizzle
July 13th 2013


13482 Comments


Word, thanks dude

Madbutcher3
July 23rd 2013


1151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

mmm just checked this it riffs.

TrueBlood
July 23rd 2013


1388 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

it has riffs but does nothing for me. It doesn't engage me.

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
July 23rd 2013


14752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Needs more emoshunz

TrueBlood
July 24th 2013


1388 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

umm, those eyes



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