The new album from Flourishing is not for kids, unless they’re kids who grew up fast and hard. It’s not happy music. It’s not party music. It won’t get your head bobbing very often. It’s not music that you’ll be running through the speakers in your mind days later. It won’t lift you up. It’s the sound of catastrophe, the sound of everything falling apart. It will roll over you and break you down.
It’s not music you can really use as background to anything else you’re doing either — it compels you to listen as it grinds over your frail person like some massive machine made for smashing human bones and flesh. I suppose the one thing you could do while listening is launch yourself into a mosh pit with violence on your mind, but that’s about it.
I have no good idea about how to classify this music within standard genre references. At times, it sounds like some kind of virulent black grind — a kind of Anaal Nathrakh-like misanthropic rending, except with more sludge. At times, industrial rhythms take hold in the low end, but if it’s industrial, it’s the sound of a deafening factory that’s consuming itself in an effusion of oily smoke.
At other times, it sounds like a dismembering kind of progressive metal, as in the last part of a song called “In Vivid Monochrome”. In certain stretches, it reminds me of the harrowing brand of hardcore-influenced venom delivered by Pristina (whose last album we reviewed here). At still others, it sounds like a catastrophic cascade of avant-garde experimental metal, reminiscent of Ulcerate. (more after the jump . . .)
“Crushing” is an overused word in metal reviews, and that word frequently exaggerates the impact of a band’s music. Not here. Listen to the brutally bludgeoning bass riffs in “Momentary Senses” and see if any other word first springs to mind. I haven’t heard anything else this year that crushes harder.
The music isn’t simple, and it definitely isn’t easy to play. To the contrary, it’s so complex that you’d need a blackboard full of intersecting diagrams to chart its course. That’s part of its attraction. It triggers the transfixing fascination I’d imagine you’d experience if a very large boa constrictor were inexorably squeezing the breath out of you while reciting The Inferno — backwards.
Vocals bathed in acid and then scraped with macro-grit sandpaper and uttered with jugular-bursting extremity, at both ends of the range. Drumming that somehow keeps time while whipping around like an epileptic in the throes of seizure. A bass that sounds like it relishes nothing more than stretching helpless victims on the rack until bones snap. A guitar that functions like a medieval weapon but, in brief and unexpected moments, stuns you with something beautiful, perhaps as a reminder that some sweetness lurks in the black hole of existence, and sometimes will surface.
The song titles on this album are wonderful, and the lyrics are thoughtful. From “Fossil Record”: “Do you really think we’re special? / When was the last time the sun orbited the earth? / Explain that there is something different between the make-up of all these bones / We breath, they breath, we eat, they eat, and I think this divide has passed the point of no return / And what we’re left with is an inept mass who thinks little and buys the absurd.”
The last song is called “As If Bathed in Excellence”. There’s no “as if” about The Sum of All Fossils — it IS excellent. Powerful, riveting, blazingly creative, one of the most unusual and overwhelming listening experiences of the year. In the aftermath of the carnage, in the moments that follow the depth charge of this music, you drift back to it, you want to hear it again, you want to be swallowed in its darkness. The music is so different, so unusually constructed, that it exerts a claim on your attention despite the absence of pronounced hooks and grooves. It’s the sound of everything falling apart, but it’s also the sound of metal being pushed outside the envelope.
So far, one song from the album has made an official debut (on Brooklyn Vegan), so that’s the one we’ve got for you today. Check out track 3 from The Sum of All Fossils — “By Which We’re Cemented”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/03-By-Which-Were-Cemented.mp3|titles=Flourishing – By Which We’re Cemented]
Here’s some additional data:
The Sum of All Fossils will be released by a very cool label called The Path Less Traveled Records on August 2. Flourishing’s Facebook page is at this location. Flourishing is fronted by Garett Bussanick, guitarist of Wetnurse. Besides him, there are only two other beasts in this band: Brian Corcoran on drums and bassist Eric Rizk. The music doesn’t sound like something that could be produced by only three people. Therefore, I conclude that their true name is Legion.