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Flesh Of The Stars : Mercy

Deep, emotional and with a naturally unfolding rhythm of its own, Flesh Of The Stars latest album is a diverse and excellent work.

With the advent and subsequent international proliferation of the internet, many things have been seemingly turned upside down over the past quarter century or so - at least this is true for those of us who can sit back and reminisce over a time when things were not governed by the speed of data. One area of the vast landscape staunchly affected by this digital revolution is undoubtedly music. No longer does one find corporate giants like Tower Records where one could potentially spend an entire Saturday afternoon plundering for music from every nook and cranny of the spectrum. Rather, music is tied to the swipe of a finger as streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify now dominate the market. One upshot of this progression is the rapid availability of a plethora of diverse artists. Even the mainstream media has now taken notice of the Heavy Metal community as demonstrated by a recent article analyzing streaming trends of a vast array of music fans and proclaiming Metal fans as the most dedicated and loyal to their choice of genre. Of course, we all knew as much already. One aspect of interest when using a service such as Spotify is seeing the total of monthly listeners a given artist has and then dealing with the inspiration or depression attained from acquiring such knowledge afterward. Flesh Of The Stars is an outstanding Doom band hailing from the Chicago area that formed in 2015. Their latest release, 'Mercy', is a five-song collection of music that sees the band truly expanding their sound and experimenting with new styles of arrangement and texture. It was a dismal, abrasive slap in the face to see that they had less than one thousand monthly listeners on Spotify, especially considering the sheer number of bands that habitually release subpar basement recordings of a much less visionary and inventive quality with more listeners by factors of ten and more. The band is without a label, though, and perhaps with more exposure and press, this can be made right.

The band's previous release, the indomitable 'Anhilla', had a blending of styles that at some points favored the classic-era Anathema-tinged work of their past while other parts had an almost Fusion flavor. Over the span of now four albums, though, the band have proven themselves defiant in the face of categorization. It is truly rare in this day and age to find a band that so independently fixates their vision upon creating quality original music first and foremost eschewing the need to neatly fit into some comfortable corner of easy classification.

Truly, those who laud the diverse work of acts as disparate as Neurosis, Swans, and Maudlin Of The Well will cling to Flesh Of The Stars. Each melodic idea is fully developed and further realized via rich instrumentation and carefully crafted, poignant songs that speak directly to the soul via that medical enigma, the pineal gland, our third eye of sorts. These are songs for contemplation promoting deep thought and thoroughly expanding consciousness.

The first song is the title track and also the longest at just over twenty-two minutes. There is an ever-shifting dynamic in which the core emotion is taken and expanded upon in many different ways. At times peaceful and tranquil, the song also has its unbridled heavy moments. What becomes immediately clear is that the band have upped their game in terms of tone. The distorted guitar tone is much more organic and three-dimensional as it truly leaps out of the speakers while the clean sound is more robust with a crystalline, chiming sound. Just after the 12:30 mark, an extremely impressive bass solo takes place that recalls Cliff Burton's classic 'Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)', though not in a derivative or copycat way. it is simply a clever take on the exposition of the coming chord progression over which the guitar then has its own chance for a rather David Gilmour-esque solo. The song overall has a very ethereal feeling complimented by myriad dynamics summoned from varying guitar and keyboard parts. It ends on a meditative note with the sounds of nature, primarily the soothing sound of chirping birds.

'Rites' is the following song and features a melding of clean male and female vocals which provides a rich melodic aesthetic. This is further elaborated by the nimble-fingered work of the piano over the majestic electric guitar heaviness. It is certainly a stunning piece, one that promotes an astral journey of sorts where one is freed from physical ties to the mundane and allowed to explore the far reaches of the cosmos untethered.

'Mercy' develops a natural rhythm as it plays through. Over the course of the five songs, it deeply evokes a vast range of emotions. Certainly, the album is one to be listened to in its entirety to gain the full experience as envisioned by its creators. Hopefully, those reading this will share the gospel of Flesh Of The Stars for this album, and their back catalog as well, could be potentially enjoyed by exponentially more lovers of quality music. It really is that good.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Mercy
2. Rites
3. Procession
4. Wisteria
5. Burial

Duration : Approx. 48 minutes

Visit the Flesh Of The Stars bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-11-05 by Chris Hawkins
Vanha - Black Lion
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