originally written by Chris McDonald
I’m largely unfamiliar with the work of the multi-talented Navene Koperweis (of Animosity, Animals As Leaders, and The Faceless) and didn’t even realize his impressive pedigree upon signing up to review Fleshwrought’s debut album. I don’t tend to listen to overtly technical music very often, but there are times when a computerized, mechanical sledgehammer to the forehead is exactly what the doctor ordered, and Dementia/Dyslexia seems tailor-made to fit those moods.
Fleshwrought’s music is unabashedly modern, mind-warpingly technical and filled with all manner of show-off flourishes and flashy instrumental tricks. The root of Dementia/Dyslexia is fairly familiar and standard tech-death, but this foundation is expanded upon with all manner of genre-bending touches, from quick ambient intros to electronic interludes and jazzy breaks. Many of the songs hint at an industrial atmosphere, mainly due to the ultra-triggered drums and militantly polished production, but this is still very much a brutal, intense death metal album at heart. Vocals are handled by Jonny Davy of Job For A Cowboy fame, but don’t let that scare you off; there’s nary a pig squeal or bree-bree to be found here, and Davy actually delivers a very strong and fitting vocal performance, playing off of Koperweis’ insane instrumental backdrops with an intimidating array of bellows and screams.
The vocal contributions are a surprising highlight, but Fleshwrought is still about one thing above all, and that’s incredible speed and musical dexterity. The majority of the album is actually quite distinctive from track to track, with the most ear-catching moments surfacing when Koperweis veers away from the light speed tech-death to deliver some inspiring passages of proggy melodic shredding (“Inner Thoughts,” ”Weeping Hallucinations”) or crushing Meshuggah-esque technical groove (“Final Nausea”). However, these changes in pace are overshadowed by the focus on endless tremolo runs and hyperblasts, and the unrelenting nature of most of the material means that songs can still start to blur together as early as track three or four. The band also toys with industrial ambience and jazzy fusion elements sporadically throughout the album, typically in rather abbreviated bursts. These interjections are effective at spicing up things up, but they too feel like they could have been fleshed out to create a more diverse listening experience.
Dementia/Dyslexia is filled to the brim with moments of tantalizing promise. The album’s fusion of technical death with industrial and progressive elements isn’t exactly revolutionary, but the band interjects enough stylistic flair to stake their own claim to this sound, and fanatics of all that is fast and complex should find plenty to sink their teeth into here. But for all of their insane chops and head-spinning dynamic shifts, Fleshwrought still succumbs to the same issue of many tech death bands—this music is just too damn demanding to form any kind of true lasting impression. Despite some earnest and commendable attempts to give these songs a sense of catchiness or digestibility (some of which work quite well), the majority of this album will likely fly in one ear and out the other for most listeners. Still, Dementia/Dyslexia succeeds strongly as an album for the here and now, and it deserves a listen for anyone seeking out interesting tech death with an experimental edge.