Review Summary: Nothing progressive, nothing poignant but definitely something extremely potent.
Originality is a quality very few underground bands possess. Perhaps it is this discrepancy that actually distinguishes a great death metal outfit from an average one: it certainly can be said that the new and inventive is usually far more engaging than the well-trodden path of traditionalism. However, as with any sweeping statement, there are always exceptions. Sometimes there is simply no need to buck the trend when the trend itself still has life left within it. It is this maxim to which Flesh Consumed adhere: not for them is the overly experimental, not for them is the world of the pioneer. Instead, they have every intent to continually ply the time-honored template, heedless of the skeptics who seek a more creative approach. They aren’t anything new, that much is for certain, but, in a world obsessed with the march of change, they remain something a little special. Despite their contentment with their less-than-novel scope, the band have achieved an album in ‘Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering’ that is just at home in our modern world as it would have been in the 1990s. This is death metal typified.
Everything about ‘Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering’ resonates with an unadulterated, if slightly theatrical, purity. Nothing here would be overtly out of place on a Suffocation album (a group from whom Flesh Consumed have unashamedly drawn more than a modicum of influence), or indeed any traditionalist’s record of choice. The riffs are fiercely technical and precise, the standard drop-c tuning giving them more than a slight tang of yore as they crash into focus, punctuated with the occasional sharp arpeggio and all manner of twisting tempo changes. Whilst the solos prove a little mediocre here and there, the guitar work here is truly memorable, and although lines sometimes appear to possess a soupcon of similarity, their ferocity and prevalent variance gives each song a harshly enjoyable nature. Accompanied by the drums, which are, of course, primarily in full-tilt blast-beat attack mode throughout the record, the instrumental talent of Flesh Consumed proves easily commendable. The vocals too are wonderfully reminiscent of the classics, being phenomenally low in tone- similar to Decapitated’s approach on the seminal ‘Nihility’- and consistent throughout, granting that finishing touch of potency. In short, all one could expect and desire from a archetypal death metal band is present in force on ‘Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering’. But not much else.
True, there are the occasional moments of uncharacteristic theatricality and progressiveness (at a push) present here: one simply has to listen to the almost gothic poetry of ‘Forever Chained’ and the spiraling eleven-minute epic of concluding track ‘Staring Into the Abyss’ to appreciate this. But these moments are far from cutting-edge and far from definitive. At best, they offer a light excursion into different territory. At worst, they detract from the solidarity of what is a very consistent album. Flesh Consumed have attempted some degree of creativity here, but it is negotiable whether it was for the best- I far and away enjoyed the well-executed barbarity of the album’s remainder beyond these fleeting sidetracks. Of course, this makes my criticism of the band being very unoriginal seem a little contradictory considering my dismissal of their efforts, but it is important to note the distinction between well-founded experimentation and foolish misdirection. Flesh Consumed’s efforts at differentiation fall firmly in the latter encampment. It is this and their template nature that act as ‘Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering’s’ biggest detractor.
Aside from all this lack of creative nous, Flesh Consumed’s music on this recording remains a very enjoyable listen for the death metal traditionalist. The album may not sail fresh waters, but it certainly makes the most of those already discovered. Anyone who harbors any shred of respect for the ‘90s Cannibal Corpse-cum-Suffocation sound will certainly find something good to take away from this. And whilst it doesn’t redefine the genre, or carve any particular specialist niche, ‘Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering’ is still a solid work from a solid band. It may not merit a special place on your record shelf, but, all you death metal fanatics out there, this album slays in a way only classic death metal has the capacity to slay. Immerse yourself in nostalgia: in a scene conquered by deathcore and progressive metal, heaven knows we need more of this. A little reminder of where it all began.