Artist: Shrine of Flesh
Album: Generations of the Void – EP
Some of the best musical projects have risen from the ashes of bands rendered defunct. Derelict and rotting, key components of artists forgotten come together to give birth to all new bands with a newfound energy. This doesn’t always happen—sometimes, bands rise from the corpses of yesteryears favorites just to let the listener down, victims of their own reputation. Other times, however, the listener is treated to something new—case in point: Chicago’s Shrine of Flesh. If the listener didn’t know Shrine of Flesh was formed from the remnants of I Killed Everyone, Ruthless, Exorcist and Through My Eyes, they probably would have never put the pieces together. Built on a firm foundation of quick, crushing death metal with moments of chug-driven deathcore devastation and flashes of technicality, Generations of the Void is a sturdy, sinister testament to reinvention, giving some of heavy music’s heralded names a chance to start anew under a new moniker.
Generations of the Void is true to its name—layers after layers of dismal, evil darkness with unfathomable depth and equally expansive despair. Written in varying shades of pitch black, Shrine of Flesh’s debut EP weighs on the listener like a yoke of lead, dragging them down into an abyssal pit of death metal mastery. Percussionist Tom Salazar reigns over Shrine of Flesh with lacerating blast beats and pummeling kick drum patterns—flowing from “Unholy Design” and it’s emulsifying introduction to the startlingly sinister conclusion to the track or the stuttering opening to “Generations of the Void” with ease. Salazar’s skill is brutalizing yet beautiful, giving Shrine of Flesh a comprehensive firmament from which bassist Colin Vass or guitarists Bobby Eckhorn and Zack Backus can branch out from easily. Vass’ low, rumbling bass adds murky contributions of crushing aggression to even the sparse moments of ethereality found throughout Generations of the Void, thus making the truly heavy moments fearsome. “Rotting Contribution” is a ruthless example: as Vass’s gritty bass adds depth to Salazar’s kick drum, while Echkorn and Backus shred atop the percussion, dominating with furiously fretted riffs and spine-splintering chugs. Shrine of Flesh’s instrumental quartet range from straightforward death metal to earth-shaking deathcore and sky bound technical death metal with sudden lurches, twists and turns that are neither rushed nor unnoticeable—rather, the group expertly transitions from style to style with minimal predictability and even less roughness.
With a canvas of relentless crush and creatively written instrumentation, Shrine of Flesh see their success resting on the shoulders of vocalist Corey Murray. Murray may not be the genre’s most talented frontman, but he remains a diverse force to be reckoned with, as he leads Shrine of Flesh with unfaltering energy and remarkable stamina that would make many of the genre’s less experienced vocalists blush. Murray’s low, visceral growls define a majority of his presence on Generations of the Void, rarely breaking up his fierce roars with ear-splitting shrieks and harsh, hellish mid-range yells. From the beginning of “State of Enslavement,” Murray commits himself to vocal perfection—and while he may not reach it one hundred percent of the time, a great majority of the album showcases his voice meeting with resounding success against the EP’s brilliant instrumental backdrop. Instead of attempting to steal the show from Shrine of Flesh’s musicians, he instead opts to blend with them, matching every moment on the EP with an appropriate growl, gurgle or scream, filling out Shrine of Flesh’s dynamic.
While Shrine of Flesh might not bring something overwhelmingly original to 2015’s jam-packed heavy music table, they do offer an unbelievably sturdy debut offering—one that manages to borrow precious little sound from the band members’ previous acts, something that rarely happens for a reincarnated band’s breakout release. Brief, Generations of the Void takes the listener on a whirlwind tour of heavily metallic Deathcore, bludgeoning them with low, lurid breakdowns and scathing, infernal riffs without remorse. This is where the quintet looses points: they do what they do extraordinarily well, but what they do is far from new to any enthusiast of heavy music, amateur or veteran. All the same, slight pitfalls aside, Shrine of Flesh is evil enough to steal the listener’s soul and sinister enough to squash it beneath megatons of murderously heavy intensity that give the listener a band to keep a careful eye on in the coming year.
For Fans Of: Dark Sermon, Martyr Defiled, I Killed Everyone, Archspire
By: Connor Welsh