Written By: Nameless_N00b_04
In the 1980s and ‘90s, death metal greats like Asphyx, Grave, Bolt Thrower, and Entombed established the template for what the genre would be. And it’s tough to be a death metal band 20 or 30 years later competing with the iconic albums released by these giants of the scene. Italy’s Organic lists these greats as the influences for their debut outing Carved in Flesh. Just naming the classics brings to mind a certain sound; a focus on riffs above all else with the goal to batter the listener’s eardrums into submission. But do these newcomers offer something that captures of the same spirit of those that came before?
The album rockets forward with the signature Swedish death metal sound right from the start and fans of Grave and Entombed will feel right at home here. The massive, buzzing riffs courtesy of axeman Benni Leiter come hard and fast, varying in pace from fast and mosh pit-inducing (“Suffocate in Blood”) to slower and unsettling (“I, Soulless”). His guitar work is complemented by the outstanding vocals of Maxi Careri, whose delivery reminds of Andreas Björnson (ex-Vomitory, Cut Up) if a bit more wet-sounding. Lukas Hofer handles the kit, accenting Leiter’s guitars with plenty of blast beats.
Carved in Flesh is a chore to get through; a repetitive listen that turns into a death march on repeat spins. Most of the tracks don’t have any sense of progression or plateau because they’re so short, and unlike a grind album where that approach is common, there’s little to no sense of heft behind the riffs. The longer tracks like “Macabre Rites,” “Carved in Flesh” and “From Beyond” are better because they’re allowed to be full compositions, but “From Beyond” is the only one with a proper peak in its solo. Carved in Flesh is under thirty minutes already (not counting the bonus tracks), and the album could have been so much better if the band had focused on giving the songs a little more length and a lot more identity. Listening to the album multiple times for this review did allow me to appreciate the good riffs that aren’t distorted to hell and back, such as the headbangers in the title track and closer “From Beyond,” but such moments are few.
The production job kneecaps the album, though the musicianship is competent. Leiter has some chops, but you can barely hear them half the time because of the absurd amount of fuzz his riffs are buried under. Any intricacies to his playing become lost under the distortion, transforming what would otherwise be engaging guitar work into a dense wall of noise. There’s no subtlety on display, the only variety coming in the form of the tempo changes from song to song. Even then, most of the songs have a single pace that doesn’t change from start to finish. Also, in perhaps a far more grave sin, there are almost no guitar solos on the album. The lack of shredding is a shame because when they do appear (such as on “Frozen Meat Medal” and “I, Soulless”), they’re a welcome change from the constant buzzing.
If taken on the merits of musicianship alone, Carved in Flesh would be an acceptable record, not really on equal footing with their iconic influences, but certainly worthy of a spot in any casual fan of the genre’s library. In the end, however, Carved in Flesh is a feast that only the most diehard fans of Swedish death will get much out of. The album manages to feel both half-baked from a lack of truly unique and distinct tracks and is hamstrung by an inadequate production job. If Organic returns to the table with another offering in the future, they would do well to bring a feast more palatable to more than a select few connoisseurs of the chainsaw riff.