Fleshdoll – ‘Animal Factory’ Album Review

As bands go, Fleshdoll are every bit as magnificently unpleasant as the images the name may conjure up. Eschewing outdated notions such as subtlety, the band aim squarely for the jugular with the sort of flesh ripping anthems that you may sensibly imagine would be the result of a tour bus pile up between Slayer and Deicide.

The very first track of ‘Animal Factory’, entitled ‘no beast so fierce’ sets out Fleshdoll’s insanely vicious stall with a ruthlessly mechanical efficiency that would impress even various dictatorships for the singlemindedness of purpose that the band apply to their music. Like acts such as Autopsy and Abcess, there is little here that approaches tunefulness, but what the band may dispense with in terms of melody they more than make up for in terms of aggression. ‘No beast…’ is a full throttle, pedal to the metal blast of unhinged guitar riffs and raw-throated vocals that sound is if the singer is trying to pass gallstones whilst plying his trade and the meticulous production, carefully emphsising every raging note and hammered bass string, couldn’t do the band any greater service making the song leap from the speakers/headphones wirth an unswerving clarity and a disturbing bloodlust that at least hints that the band may well have come for your soul as well as your life-long obedience and when a band sounds as utterly committed to their art as this it seems futile to resist. The title track of the record is up next and it announces itself with a brief moment of ‘Davidian’-esque druns before heading off into rough-as-f*** Slayer territory with snatched riffs providing the backdrop for the impossibly bass-laden growl of the vocalist. ‘Bite the man boy’ appeasrs quickly, with none of the early tracks of the album even approaching four minutes, and it somehow taps up into hidden reserves of brutality with Fleshdoll displaying a love for both vintage death metal and Dillinger Escape Plan’s strangely jazzy song structures albeit with no corresponding loss in depth or power. With the benefit of having had time to adjust to the band’s unrelenting viciousness, it begins to become apparant at this point just how tight and proficient Fleshdoll are. Not a note is wasted nor a solo out of place. Rather every riff is brutally pared down so as not to outstay its welcome while every song offers up so much variety that you initially feel like a million ideas are flying past your shattered skull in the space of a few minutes and you feel the need to return to the tracks time and time again so as to gain a decent understanding of what the band are up to.

Next up is ‘L.P.S’, a stunningly unpleasant and powerful blast that juggles the aforementioned dexterous fretboard attacks with a simple but powerful chugging guitar attack all backed up by a lazer-guided rhythm section who seem hell bent on stripping the flesh from your bones wirth their furious assault. Unveiling a thrash influenced solo at around the 2.40 mark, the band also display a wider range of influences than the first three tracks initially suggest and there’s a real Testament feel to the track, death metal grunts notwithstanding. Another brutally short track, ‘Transmission 11’ opens with a brief sample before a massive guitar riff introduces a more doomy feel to proceedings as the track pans out to be a treacle thick mixture of grinding guitars, Sabbath drums and pounding bass all without the benefit of vocals to pierce the gloom. Moving into lengthier territory, ‘heroPsychoMartyr’ is the first track to break the four minute barrier and it does so despite the guitarists apparantly making up for the slower instrumental track that precedes it by playing at roughly the speed of light while the vocals take on an even more inhuman tone than elsewhere – an impressive feat indeed. However, the highlight in terms of brutality has to go to the perfectly named ‘go dig your grave in the sand’ which is stunningly savage, deceptively simplistic and yet exceptionally proficient with varied sections and riffs making it into a mini-masterpiece that satisfyingly sums up the album as a whole. Moreover the band intelligently weave samples and ethnic music into the track offering a brief moment of calm amidst the raging chaos. It’s a highlight of the album, a vicious and blood-soaked missive to the damned and the perfect track with which to introduce the band to unsuspecting colleagues.

After such a collosus, ‘horror, moral, terror’ does pretty much the only thing it can do which is to lower its head and charge at the listener with the firm intention of goring him/her with an impressive barrage of riffs, misanthropic howls and artillery-barrage drums. That just leaves the six-minute plus ‘sweet apocalypse’ to round out the album with a nimble-fingered guitar introduction and deathly vocals. It’s another mighty achievement from the band in that they cunningly weave melody into the utterly brutal riffs in a way that raises the song above the ordinary without losing a single sliver of its power. A blackened thrash epic, it is the perfect closing track for an album which gets in, murders your family and escapes leaving only bloody marks smeared across the walls within a brutally compact thirty-nine minutes, albeit a thirty-nine minutes that is likely to leave you sweating, exhausted and brutalised.

Overall in ‘Animal factory’ Fleshdoll have created a death metal landmark, a brutally precise piece of metal to be admired and feared by those who stumble upon it. The band themselves are technically proficient and utterly committed and capable songwriters and the album is concise and, like the coldly unblinking eye of a killer, utterly without remorse. Solos and riffs are memorable while the vocals are gruffly intoned without a trace of melody or humanity. What more, reasonably, could anyone ask?

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