01. Flesh Is Heir
02. Ergo Ergo Sum
04. A Womb Tone
05. Obliterate’s Prayer
07. The Argument
10. A Palimpsest
11. Tabula Rasa
Australian death/industrial act The Amenta haven’t released an album in five years – although 2008’s N0n was a well-received offering – but they’re back with Flesh Is Heir, an expansion on that success, which actually surpasses it in most ways.
Most notably, their newest release is cleaner and better sounding from a production standpoint. New-ish singer Cain Cressall (his only other work with the band being 2011’s EP, VO1D) is well utilized, given a long enough leash to utilize his various stylings where appropriate, but reigned in enough to let the musicians behind him brandish their impressive talents.
All too often, bands who hybridize industrial metal do it in a clumsy way. The transition between acoustic and electronic elements is too transparent, which snaps the listener out of the moment. This is not so on Flesh Is Heir. The electronic elements are truly seamless. Tonality and timbre were clearly given extremely careful attention on this album. Often times, the synthesizers don’t jump right out, and it isn’t until repeat listens that you notice that there is a bed of moody atmosphere underneath the crushing death metal. When the electronics are more transparent, it is to fantastic effect, with heavy mechanical sounds and eerie atmospheres often acting as a bridge or reprieve.
Throughout the album, the real centerpiece is the onslaught of guitar, bass, and drums. Drummer Dave Haley is particularly noteworthy: in this age of frequently programmed/replaced/time-corrected drums, it would be understandable to jump to the conclusion that the drums on this album have been deceptively tweaked in post, but based on a bit of research, it would appear that Dave Haley is simply that good. His feet are absolutely supersonic, but his playing tasteful and accurate. The guitars have intensity to match, and make frequent use of harrowing 32nd-note runs. Dissonance plays largely in the band’s sound, and the guitars are the most frequent contributor to the delicious tension.
Where the album wears thin, however, is in its theme. According to the band’s website, Flesh Is Heir “deals with the constant war in the human psyche between the faction that desires obliteration and the faction that struggles in the mud.” Amateur theological/philosophical/psychological diatribes beg to be picked apart, and this album’s lyric sheet reads like a surface-level application of a Google search of “deep stuff, dude”. Esoteric Aristotelian concepts like tabula rasa are tossed out casually and frequently, with little support, as though the mere mention elevates everything around it. Ambitions can become overestimations if not kept within the filter of aptitude.
Overall though, the album’s strengths absolutely obliterate its weaknesses. This is one of–if not the–most ferocious albums of the year, so far. Drown in the torrent of its severity, but don’t drink from its thematic pretenses.