I never get sick—except during Christmas and New Year’s. It never fails. Every. Single. Holiday. Season. Thankfully, I have Feral with their latest drop to keep me warm and energized as I cough my lungs out. Flesh for Funerals Eternal is the band’s third full-length effort, and these Swedes are here to prove that they’re exactly as their name suggests: frantic, vicious and unrelenting death metal. Why they decided to release this on the second to last day of the friggin’ year is beyond me. Maybe the quintet knew what they had would shake the very foundations of Swedish death metal and unleashing it so late was their way of sticking it to us?
From the onset, there are two things Flesh for Funerals Eternal makes impeccably clear to me. Firstly, Feral implement what is among my favorite guitar tones I’ve heard out of the death metal camp this year—gritty, crunchy and distorted as all get-out. Secondly, if you liked Crawl’s Rituals, you’ll get a kick out of this. Cribbing heavily from the more aggressive characteristics of The Left Hand Path, Feral don’t fret too much about carving a unique niche for themselves in the crowded Swedeath field. Still, there exist subtle thrashy and crusty undertones that serve to differentiate Feral enough to avoid confusion with other Swedish death metal bands.
“Stygian Void.” “Black Coven Secrets.” “Dormant Disease.” “Of Gods No Longer Evoked.” And the list goes on. Flesh for Funerals Eternal annihilates everything with exquisite riffs, and these aforementioned tracks are the evidence thereof. Unlike on previous records, Feral make the riffs feel alive, going to great lengths not to rehash or recycle their own material. They accomplish this by introducing fresh notes and exploring varied modes (like the faintest hint of Phrygian scales in “Gathering Their Bones” and “Dormant Disease”) while still generating their trademark grooves. While this does not mean the record is “progressive” or “genre-bending” by any means, it does certify Flesh for Funerals Eternal as a vital and engaging listen.
I was worried I would lose interest in Feral over time because of how similar their sound is to Entombed‘s earlier work. That was silly of me, as my head bobs just as exuberantly ten-plus spins in as it did on the first, and I keep my trigger finger poised above that blasted replay button at all times. Where is all of this energy coming from? The charismatic drumming of Roger Markström (note the short but sweet kit solo on “Accursed”) or the twin guitar assault brought on by Markus Lindahl and Sebastian Lejon (see “Bled Dry” and “Black Coven Secrets”)? Perhaps the rumbling bass courtesy of Viktor Klingstedt is responsible for my infatuation with Flesh for Funerals Eternal (“Gathering Their Bones”)? Or maybe it’s the crusty death roars of vocalist David Nilsson that gets my engine revving (“Vaults of Undead Horror”)? I figure the answer is “all of the above,” because even now I can’t decide who performed best.
When all is said and done, Feral angers me. I am angry that they made me wait until New Year’s Eve Eve for one of the better Swedish death metal albums released this year. I am angry about how catchy Flesh for Funerals Eternal is and how many times I want to listen to it. Most of all, I am angry that the only legitimate criticism I can level at Feral is that this reminds me so much of early Entombed that I actually checked to make sure there wasn’t any crossover between band members. That hasn’t stopped me from enjoying Feral more and more with each passing minute, so I suppose being original or unique isn’t so important when you write records like this.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: feralsweden.bandcamp.com | feral.se | facebook.com/feralswe
Releases Worldwide: December 30th, 2018