Album Review :
Fleshkiller - Awaken
By Mason Beard in Reviews | 13 Comments
Fleshkiller, the new band formed by Ole Borud of Extol and Peter Dalbakk of Vardoger, has finally made it’s debut. Borud and Dalbakk were in Schaliach, an Unblack metal project, together briefly. The project disbanded and the two went their own ways. Until 2016, when the two came together for Fleshkiller. Dalbakk departed before they began recording as he needed to spend more time with family. This led Elisha Mullins (The Burial, A Hill to Die Upon) to join the band.
“Parallel Kingdoms” is the debut single off of the new project’s album Awaken. The project is so eerily similar to Extol, with the same tones and Ole’s vocals, it’s only when Elisha’s vocals come in do you realize that it is not Extol, but Fleshkiller. The track is super progressive but still brutal, a difficult thing to maintain. The guitar solo near the end of the track is incredible and beautiful.
“Salt of the Earth” starts off slow and somber. It speeds up a little bit and adds some drums and heavy guitars, still echoing the melodic guitars. Then the heavy guitars go off on their own. Mullins brings in his heavy passionate growls at will. Almost mid way through, 2 minutes or so, everything but the guitars stop. It’s almost like they were at practice and they recorded something one of them did accidentally. The song goes crazy after that. A bunch of stop start stuff and a lot of layered vocals. The lyrics of this song are highly spiritual, meaning Fleshkiller stays true to their Christian metal roots of Extol and The Burial. ‘Christ is your guide. You need not be afraid’ are just some lyrics I caught listening to this track.
“Wisdom” starts with Mullins howling at the intro. The songs has almost a black metal tinge to it. Ole’s vocals finally come in around the 1:45 minute mark. I know the band’s main genre is progressive metal, but that’s the only way to truly describe them without someone bickering, because there are so many styles and influences kind of shown through the progress of this song. Black metal, thrash metal, death metal. They all describe Fleshkiller in one way or another.
“Secret Chambers” has a very melodic feel. The music clashes perfectly at times, it sounds like a classic rock band or even a symphony. And at other times the music wouldn’t fit in anything other than headbanging metal. And sometimes it does both. Progressive metal is a weird genre to be in and it takes a lot of talent to master. Ole has had over 20 years of practice and has become a master of Prog.
“Awaken” is the album’s fifth track. Has a very intricate intro with a complicated time signature. The song is a heavy one to say the least. Mullins’ vocals dominate the track for sure, with their focus. The song also has a cool solo around the half way point. “Awaken” was definitely a good choice for the title of the album. Near the end of the song, all that remains is drums and the vocals of Mullins and Borud, but then just when you think that’s where it ends, it goes and restarts itself.
“Inherit” starts off very eerily, but I suppose that’s the progressive metal style. When Mullins’ vocals come in, the music jumps into a more bouncy heavy sound. The two styles of vocals clash very well together. This track is a long one. Almost every track on this album passes 5 minutes. So if Fleshkiller only does one album, which I don’t see happening, there will still be plenty to listen to.
“Evil Eclipse” continues the 5 minute long track record. Starting with a thrash beat, it swiftly transitions into Borud’s beautiful voice. Then Mullins…not so beautiful, but still lovable voice. If you’re into that sorta thing. The song is actually probably one of my favorites off this album. “Evil Eclipse” brings some of the best heavy progressive metal, with thrashing drums, mellow guitars and the mixture of melody and brutality. Around the end, the song delivers a great final conclusion.
“True Image” is the only song that isn’t 5 minutes long. “True Image” brings a great message, with brutal music. Borud’s voice is very worshipful, while not as passionate as that of a vocalist of any given spirit-filled hardcore act, it still delivers upon the fact that he’s in love with the Lord.
“Warfare” has kind of an Extol feel to it, a very black metal sound. The song has very heavy overtones, even with Borud’s vocals fading in and out. Mullins’ vocal performance on this one is just amazing. If you really want a song that sound like The Burial to come off this record, this is it. Borud also presents us with a fantastic solo around 3:30 minute mark, which leads back into the black/thrash metal beat.
“Window of Time” falls just short of 5 minutes. The track starts off with an interesting and progressive guitar tone. The only way I can describe it is a mix between Extol’s progressive tones and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster’s southern-ish tone. Don’t read to much into that, that’s just the best way to describe it. When the drums come in though, it is just powerful. It’s that kind of slow and simple but brutal drum style. Borud’s vocals come in before Mullins’, which sets a tone for the song. “Windows of Time” is definitely a great song on this record. Borud’s vocals and the guitar solo are probably my favorite parts about it.
The album delivers upon the hype that has been building over the last year or so about Fleshkiller. The album is fantastic. The reason there isn’t very many comparisons outside of The Burial or Extol, is because the two have come together as one and have crafted a unique sound.
For Fans Of: Extol, The Burial, Devin Townsend, Animals As Leaders
So far, I’m very impressed with Fleshkiller. I’ve listened to the album twice so far, and they have a nice mix of harsh and clean vocals. Definitely a contender for my favorite album of the year, along with Wage War and To Speak of Wolves.
All hail the mighty Extol…I mean Fleshkiller. So good!
Just got it yesterday. It sounds amazing so far. Waiting for the songs to sink in individually. Wisdom is my early favorite. This band is so incredibly talented on every level that I’ll be digging this for awhile to come. So much to absorb!
On a side note, this being early on, it’s kind of weird to hear Ole’s clean vocals and have this not be Extol. Whenever he is leading my mind slips back to Extol’s self titled before I get shocked back to reality when Elijah comes in.
4/5 is one of the worst scores I’ve seen for this album. That tells you how great it is.
Can’t wait to give it a full listen.
Great review. Easy 5/5 for me. So much to absorb.
The name always brings Phinehas to my mind, but this is even better. I never got into the bands the members were previously in, but on first listen I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Lol, everytime I searched for this band Phinehas would always pop up.
Ok boys, when I say 5/5, I meant no disrespect. I’m not big into prog metal, but I did like this. So I apologize if this was not a generous rating. If I had the choice, honestly, it would 4.5/5. But .5s are not options.
Sorry if I came across as trying to knock your rating. You wrote a good review. I was trying to point out that it’s getting near universal praise. I think 4/5 is apt, but I definitely see why some would argue for 5/5.
You’re fine man. I understood you. Just making a point. Not a bad album by any standard of the word.
“Check out this interview of…” 😉
I just saw that haha. My bad