Deeds of Flesh - _Reduced to Ashes_
(Unique Leader Records, 2003)
by: Adam Lineker (
Although the metal underground is an exciting and sprawling place to explore, I sometimes feel like I'm digging through way too much tripe in hope of finding something that is worthy of the time it takes to find it. So many bands are frustratingly happy to offer us records that teach nothing about the greatness of metal, but just exist as lifeless obstacles that have to be painfully dealt with. Yes, I'm having a bit of a rant, but Deeds of Flesh have set me running on this. It's not that _Reduced to Ashes_ is all that bad -- it's just totally uninspiring. This music is entirely made up of death metal riff progressions, played through a guitar production that does an adequate job, though the bass can be quite elusive in the mix. There are some inventive riffs and effective tonal discords that might have stood a little taller had they been employed with more thought. As it stands, there is no sense of structure in these songs, and with no melodic landmarks for one to hook into, nothing has any real impact; it's never a good thing when one fails to differentiate between songs as they play. The vocals are reasonably powerful but dull, with a monotone death belch dominating proceedings, punctuated with the occasional Jeff Walker-esque rasp. Drums are very competently played but very impersonal, triggered to the extent that I double-checked to make sure that they were not machine programmed; the snare sound is also horribly weak. Deeds of Flesh show evident competence and understanding of musical complexity, but they lose out big time when it comes to structural intelligence; _Reduced to Ashes_ is a record that simply sounds the same throughout its duration. There is a very real sense of soul-destroying emptiness, with nothing even to get the head nodding, let alone overload the senses and wring the emotions. There is also a total absence of thematic construction within the music, aside from the irony of the fittingly titled closer "The Endurance" (eleven minutes of dirge! I ask you!). I don't actually enjoy being so critical of the efforts of working musicians, but with _Reduced to Ashes_ Deeds of Flesh have given nothing of worth to death metal -- a genre that could do without such a staid representation.
(article published 2/16/2004)
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