Fleshvessel – Yearning: Promethean Fates Sealed Review

[Cover art by Carlos Agraz]

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but life is A LOT, friends. Beyond your own dealings with career and family and social scenes and whatever else you might have going on ‒ which, you don’t need me to tell you can be too much to handle without external factors ‒ there are those external factors. Perhaps you’ve heard of some trials surrounding the Seditionist in Chief, a potential room temperature superconductor promising but not really promising eternal clean energy, some doofus game streamer causing a riot because he couldn’t deliver a bunch of PS5s he may or may not have promised, and maybe some catastrophic things happening to the global biosphere… among about 47,283 other things constantly badgering your gray matter. So we can all be excused if we simply CANNOT TAKE IT a good amount of the time.

Release date: July 28, 2023. Label: I, Voidhanger.
Thankfully, we have art to soothe us, distract us, or in the case of Fleshvessel, both. A LOT of both. Their debut EP, Bile of Man Reborn, was extremely well liked around these parts, and it proved the Chicagoans to be ambitious in both scale (a single track at nearly 25 minutes) and content (lots of ideas and extra instrumentation). Their first full length amplifies those factors by what many with a business tongue would call “an order of magnitude.” It’s a lot; more of a lot. Just the album title, Yearning: Promethean Fates Sealed, is bunches, and is matched by nearly an hour of music loaded with shifts and stops and restarts and bursts of activity all over the place. It’s all played with the usual guitars and bass and (programmed) drums but joined by a ton of beautiful piano and viola, a lot of other strings, and a wide variety of other keyboard and synth sounds. The vocals likewise shift all over the place, and only sometimes in a direct parallel to the music being played.

Is it all over the place? Kind of, yes! Fleshvessel’s mix of aggressive death metal, high minded prog, chamber music, the avant-garde-as-a-genre vibe, synthy ambience, and everything in between, along with all those extra instruments, absolutely gives Yearning a bit of a schizophrenic feel, especially at first blush. It’s like some wacky medieval meeting of later Gorguts, Arcturus, A Forest of Stars, and Thy Catafalque. When the songwriting is truly focused, the album cooks. “The Void Chamber,” for example, traverses dramatic passages of stately baritone singing, has one of the nastier riffs on the album (which is gloriously joined by deep growls and organ), goes a bit circus metal with horns and bouncy rhythms, and allows itself to dissolve into loose piano before a it finishes in ways both beastly and majestic. “A Stain” similarly feels like a journey, combining playful and brooding sounds with Opethian riffs and a captivating sense of prolonged resolution. Both songs offer a ton, but most importantly, they flow.

By contrast, the album’s bookending tracks jump around in ways that feel more sudden or even somewhat haphazard. Opener “Winter Came Early” brings everything from heavily blasting death metal and some rather manic flute to a positively gorgeous combination of piano and viola at multiple moments. Closer “Eyes Yet To Open,” meanwhile, has some supremely Colored Sandsish riffs, wicked leads, and strangely dizzying double-kick moments, but also contains long stretches of cathartic caterwauling and a fair amount of Vangelis worship. Fleshvessel, almost essentially, is adept at whatever is going on, but whatever is going on changes very often. As such, these songs could be interpreted as a band that doesn’t let their best ideas breathe with the space they demand, but they could also be seen as multiple parts of the same personality working both at odds and together. You decide. Even for a guy that enjoys this record quite a bit (yo), this approach still needs a particular mood for full appreciation.

Even the killer tunes on Yearning might feel like a bit too much for many listeners, but Fleshvessel didn’t design this stuff to be easy. Have some expansive beauty, then have a chaotic battle; have a wild party, then have a big cry. Do it all while sitting at a piano within the greatest hall of the oldest, largest castle imaginable, but make sure to bring your drum machine and modern instruments. Yearning is as stunning and full of wonder as it is occasionally maddening on purpose. Even after you’ve listened to it 15 times the sheer volume of stuff happening can occupy a whole lot of your attention. It might just be the distraction you need.

Posted by Zach Duvall

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Obnoxious overuser of baseball metaphors.

  1. Very difficult music.

    Reply

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