REVIEW: FleshBurner – DeathDealer [EP/2019]

Artist: FleshBurner

Album: DeathDealer – EP


For those who don’t know me, I’m Connor, and I am currently finishing my third year in medical school. Now, to get here, I have had to complete the requisite however-many years of elementary, middle and upper school, as well as four years of undergraduate education, a couple years of hospice and patient care for curriculum building and then, well, the three years of medical school.

At this point you’re asking—why the fuck am I reading this?

Because my point is this: throughout those years, the animal dissections, the chemistry labs, the human dissections, the hours in hospitals cleaning god knows what off of god knows who, you smell a lot of things, and most of them suck—the most putrid of all of them, however, is the smell of burning flesh.

That nostril-singing, goosebump-inducing odor, acrid and burning as it lingers in your nose, coating every surface with insidious stank is unmistakable, just in the same way that the grime and grisly aggression abundant in new and gnarly deathcore outfit FleshBurner is acrid and unmistakable. Taking a very contemporary approach to yesteryear’s style of unrelenting deathcore, the band’s debut effort, DeathDealer is a solid outing with equal parts nostalgia and no-holds-barred hatred that will leave fans of heavy music on the edge of their seat, anticipating more.

Fundamentally, FleshBurner don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to providing listeners with a solid, sinister approach to awe-inspiringly angry deathcore. This Windy City two-piece pack more power into their songs than many of their fully-dispatched and amply experienced peers, making DeathDealer an EP as prodigal as it is powerful. Founder and frontman Holden Zacharias works alongside guitarist and co-songwriter Brian Szykowny to bring cut after cut of raw, USDA-Grade-A meat to the listener’s ears, combining ruthless riffs with breakdowns dense enough to break backs masterfully. “Gehenna” is one such track, with monstrous percussion and leads that provide just the right amount of atmosphere and contrast, allowing each breakdown to hit harder and heavier than the last. Meanwhile, “BoneCrusher” is fast-paced and catchy, with drumming that just won’t quit and production that packs one hell of a punch (likely both, but especially the latter provided by engineer and deathcore juggernaut Chris Whited at 1776 Recordings). The entire EP is an example of deathcore done tastefully to appeal to fans of the genre’s “golden era,” just as it has enough sharp, crisp production and dusting of gimmicks to allows the new heads to get on board. While it doesn’t go above and beyond in too many places (“Deathwish” and “Gehenna” do come to mind, however), it remains on the upper end of solid, keeping the listener engaged for its duration.

Where FleshBurner barely rise above standard fare instrumentally, their vocal effort is one for the books. The entirety of DeathDealer is home to a—pardon the term—bonkers vocal display that hits just about every register and style one could want. Zacharias’ vocal effort is primal, punishing and polished all in one, managing to capture raw, manic energy just as excellently as he is able to nail challenging, tongue-twisting lines that weave in and out of spine-shrinking breakdowns. “Gehenna,” once more, is an excellent example, even though the lyrics border on the over-done. “BoneCrusher,” in its energetic and catchy glory is a prime example of Zacharias’ ability to be cunning with his pattern writing and style utilization without getting too overboard and remaining almost perfectly intelligible—something rare in contemporary deathcore. The point is that if the instrumentation abound on DeathDealer doesn’t really do it for you, then rest assured the vocal effort will.

DeathDealer has all the promise of “just another deathcore record” if we’re going by title and name alone. However, FleshBurner take the animosity and aggression implied in their name and capture it effortlessly with their sound. Fair enough—DeathDealer, in a lot of ways, is just another deathcore record—but it remains a fun and invigorating experience that blends nostalgia with nuance to give listeners something fairly unique and immersive in the midst of a contrived and try-hard wave of “real deathcore revivals.”



For Fans Of: Oceano, Lorna Shore, Jerome, I Shot the Sheriff

By: Connor Welsh