Bekor Qilish – The Flesh Of A New God Review

If you’ve ever spent time talking with someone about music that is progressive or highly technical, there’s a good chance you’ve had an interaction like this:

[You]: Hey, have you heard the new album from College-Level Calculus, Twisted Derivations of Fractal Psychometry? It’s really good!
[Them]: I mean, yeah, they can really play, but I don’t know. Where’s the soul?
[You, a hero]: Well, I think the whole thing is powerful and ultimately impr-
[Them, an obvious straw man]: TOO MANY NOTES.

Release date: September 22, 2023. Label: I, Voidhanger.
Because of your impeccable taste and smarts, you may have guessed by now that Bekor Qilish’s second album, The Flesh of a New God, is both progressive and highly technical. Before digging in, though, let’s spare one last thought for the “technical music has no soul” crowd. This argument irritates me on two levels: first, because it presumes that technical music cannot have soul or emotion; and second, because it implies that technical music must have soul or emotion in order to be valid. Regardless of what you think on that first point, let’s not cede the debate on the second point without an argument.

Bekor Qilish is the brainchild of Andrea Bruzzone, who introduced the project on 2022’s brief but impressive debut Throes of Death from the Dreamed Nihilism. On that album, Bruzzone wrote all the music and performed all vocals and instruments (with the exception of guest drummers on two tracks and several guitar soloist guests). Scarcely a full year after that debut, Bekor Qilish returns with The Flesh of a New God, an eclectic jumble of technical death and black metal performed by a full four-piece band yet still composed solely by Bruzzone.

Performance-wise, Bruzzone steps back to handle only vocals and programming, but the introduction of other players – each wildly proficient at their instrument – serves mostly to sharpen the attack of Bruzzone’s ongoing musical vision. The performance most responsible for strengthening and solidifying that vision is Giulio Galati’s drumming, which is nimble and precise yet utterly thunderous throughout the album. (In addition to playing in Hideous Divinity and Nero di Marte, Galati provided a similarly towering performance on Heaving Earth’s scorching Darkness of God.)

The Flesh of a New God opens with “Defaced Background,” a song that – setting a precedent the album will return to frequently – spends a lot of its time in twitchy, wonky tech-death mode, but then opens up into a surprising synth interlude, after which the band comes back in with its energy transformed into frantic yet melodic black metal. With Galati’s drums clearing the terrain (just as often with a bulldozer as with a spade), Bekor Qilish finds its core expression in sending John Mor’s guitar and Otus Rex’s bass into fits of twisting and diving, tracing out jittery patterns in unison and self-sabotaging grooves in counterpoint. On “Unobtainable Transformations,” the entire bottom drops out around two and a half minutes in for a queasy synth and scuzzy bass break, but later on a slow-motion guitar solo rides above a barrage of drums.

Bekor Qilish’s music is made of such volatile and recombinant parts that what you hear in it may simply depend on what else you’ve been thinking about. As I’ve listened to The Flesh of a New God, I have found myself thinking about the New Age-leaning prog death of Alchemist’s Organasm against the alien coldness of Gorguts’s Obscura, and I’ve thought about the hammering, cosmic precision of Meshuggah’s Catch Thirty-three and the frantic, recursive black metal of Krallice and the early tech/death vibe of Atheist hijacked by needling tremolo runs. Surely you will not think of those references, or at least not only. Bekor Qilish plays a tricky, intense style of music in which it is difficult to have a coherent and fully unique identity, but in which that may not necessarily be the point.

Throughout the album’s still-concise duration, Bruzzone’s compositions continually plunge ahead, leaping and lunging just out of grasp. And yet even moments that seem out of control, like the wild synth breakout that pops up early on in “The Flesh of Terror,” are carefully scripted. “Enshrouding Wraths” sees John Mor pull off a squiggly Fredrik Thordendal guitar solo, while “Unaware Gods” is a satisfying instrumental that cruises in a synthy black metal slipstream. It’s one of the album’s more straightforward pieces, but even so, Galati’s blasting rhythms lead the way through a slippery torrent of dropped notes. “Infinite Self-Reflecting Circles” features a saxophone solo from guest Gianluca Zanello, but even better is how it closes out with a decrepit-sounding church organ synth.

I did not come into The Flesh of a New God looking for soulful emotion, and I will not pin my judgment on whether or not I found it. I will say, however, that the feeling I had most often during my encounters with the album was surprise: surprise that these jutting, nervy compositions would so often give way to lovely synth passages or melodic guitar motifs; surprise that songs which first felt so unkempt and standoffish would start to make sense; surprise that a promising debut gave way to such a powerful follow-up so quickly; surprise that after arguing with myself, the elusive soul was probably there all along.

Posted by Dan Obstkrieg

Happily committed to the foolish pursuit of words about sounds. Not actually a dinosaur.

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