Eight tracks across eleven minutes of raw, senses blistering causticity, the Han EP from US band Flesh Born is a fury to ignite the imagination and test the emotions. It is a raging hostility which merges the voraciousness of crust and grind with the malevolence of black metal for a distinct and unique proposition which offers a challenge of uncompromising antagonism and merciless sonic abrasing. It is not going to be for everyone, especially with its equally strong essence of screamo, but beneath its fiercely grazing surface there is a range of hooks and twisted grooves which easily trap the more adventurous hearted.
Formerly known as Elesh Norn, the Texas quartet’s new release follows their impressive spilt with fellow Texans, the blacked punk duo Cara Neir. Released on Midwest label Skeletal Lightning and with the band’s debut EP All The Pain I Built Up strapped to its B-side as a bonus, Han is primed to thrust the Denton band into a stronger attentive spotlight. As mentioned EP and sound is a raw incitement; from lyrics to vocals, passion to production an unpolished quarrel which demands attention. In some ways its production with its thick coarse touch actually defuses some of the impact of the fire blazing within the tracks but it also accentuates the adversarial presence to leave indecisive but ultimately satisfied thoughts on that aspect of the release.
Han opens with the gentle caress of Unforgivable, well a polite coaxing for a clutch of seconds anyway before riffs and rhythms explode in a frenzied animosity driven by the similarly unbridled ferociousness of Miles DeBruin’s vocals. It is an immediately debilitating onslaught but one veined by highly tempting sonic hooks from the guitar of Parker Lawson. Little jabs and strands of melodic discord tease the senses to give the minute plus suasion of the song an infectious lure within the tumultuous swamp of jaundiced energy conjured by drummer Daniel Mitchell and the throaty bass spite of Donovan Ford. It is a strong and magnetic start instantly swamped by the thick intensive and malicious energy aligned to predatory passion of Destroy the World of Men. A wall of sonic argument to buckle knees, it is punctuated with tenacious heavy swipes from Mitchell which again add that something extra and distinct to set the track apart from its companions and other genre crossing protagonists.
The stringent force of Lament sears ears and senses next with forty seconds of primal antisocial bitterness before the melancholic acrimonious prowl of Gloom infest thoughts and emotions. With a sludge air to its pestilential intent and cavernous resonance, the track is a labour intensive proposition and an intimidating long term engagement which though presenting a longer confrontation than most on the release at over two minutes flies by with its corruptive tsunami of sound and intensity.
The Fever of Feeling launches a thunderous stride of riled rhythms and desperately rapacious riffs under the scorching squalls of DeBruin, its furnace a bestial but addictive bait to devour greedily before being succeeded by the acerbic and senses battering weight of Empty. Less gripping than others but as potent in consuming thoughts with its provocative intent and scarring raw sonic scalding, the track is a satisfying rub soon surpassed by the thirty second crippling assault of The Body System. It is an intriguing almost mesmeric flow of sonic lava veined with distorted melodic invention which just re-ignites the passions.
Final track The Other Side of Despair is a virulent contagion of abrasing riffs and predatory slow rhythms around a delicious flesh burning groove and brawling chords. It is a bewitching acidic maelstrom presented in a calm but no less furiously passionate way than elsewhere. It also steals best song honours with ease and leaves the listener with an even greedier appetite for Flesh Born.
Han is a riveting and thoroughly satisfying encounter showing its creators as a band with the potential and craft to rise to major heights at some point ahead. Right now though, Flesh born has given us a release which takes its toll on the emotions but rewards with a highly enjoyable outrage.
The Han EP is available on 12” vinyl via Skeletal Lightning now @ http://www.skeletallightning.net/products/526535-flesh-born-han-12
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