Back in 2015, Ukranian act Mettadone emerged from wherever they’d been previously to unleash their debut, Invisible Disease, upon the world. The album was an intriguing offering of gothic-tinged doom/death and had good potential behind it. In 2017, while touring, the band’s singer apparently left the band right before a show. What’s a band to do? I should think that would be obvious: the drummer sang the show, discovered he enjoyed the role, and so the band subsequently went full death metal. Fast-forward a couple of years, and here they are, reformed and revitalized for their sophomore, Rotten Flattery.
It’s been a little while since I’ve been impressed with a death metal record. I think the last one that really grabbed me was Crescent’s The Order of Amenti, courtesy of some really great melodic leads and memorable songwriting. It certainly wasn’t melodeath, but was just melodic enough to stand out from the “bash in the skull of the listener and sort the mess out later” style so common in death metal today. Mettadone reminds me of Crescent in that way, with clear influence from Paradise Lost and Edge of Sanity. Mind you, the skull bashing is certainly here—songs like “Mind’s Prisoner” and “Untrue Entity” lunge for the jugular, parrying with loud drumming and riffs unending. Everyone performs admirably across Rotten Flattery, though the guitars, of course, are the primary focus with varied chugging, tremolo, and solo work standing out across the album.
The best songs on Rotten Flattery, however, are the ones that hearken back, just a little bit, to Invisible Disease in terms of their melodic side. “Obscurity of Hypocrisy” is a great example of this, with a subtle synth backdrop raising the song’s more traditional structure to memorable heights. “Pray for Help” is an awesome track, combining intense riffing, furious vocals, an awesome solo, and an unexpected clean choral section towards the back half of the track. “In a Funeral Home,” manages to stay interesting, despite its seven-minute run time, because of its tendency towards similar structures. Mettadone’s ability to merge melodic undertones with awesome riffing and blasting helps a lot of Rotten Flattery to stand out in a really good way.
The primary drawbacks to Rotten Flattery are simple: it is long, and it is loud. Fifty-two minutes1 is a long time to listen to frantic riffs and overloud snares, even if they are produced cleanly and clearly. This is part of why the slower, more melodic tracks on the album are as welcome as they are. “Act of Revenge” is definitely a strong pile of riffs, but I can’t actually recall any of it—it simply appears too late on the album, in the back half where ear fatigue starts to mesh all of the riffs together into an angry, if well-constructed, blob. It’s a testament to the master and production that it takes so long to reach that point, but it’s still an issue that does bring a very good album down a bit. I’m also not sure how I feel about the bass, which is loose, loud, and downright grimy. On “Untrue Entity,” it actually manages to distract from the riffing altogether, though it adds welcome dimensions when it is allowed to be subtle.2
This might have been an odd album for me to snatch up for review. Given the sound Mettadone employed on Invisible Disease, I wasn’t expecting the foray into death metal that I’ve been spinning for the past little while. I really don’t count death metal as a genre I keep a careful eye on, but something in Rotten Flattery just grabbed me. This album is a grower for sure, and it’s already shown me there’s plenty more to it than meets the eye. In a relative sea of stagnation, Rotten Flattery is a lot more flattering than it is rotten. This has been a very enjoyable way to have my skull sonically caved in, and I look forward to letting this one grow on me more.