Published Feb 21, 2019Sweden's Wretched Fate were inspired to contribute to their country's storied (death) metal tradition after reading tomes on the topic and, on Fleshletting, ensure they're more than just a footnote. Like Bloodbath before them, the goal is tributary and the self-awareness does them well, as the metal ain't muddled in attempts at indulgent innovation.
Bloodbath connections are deeper than just a shared country, direction and a previously released cover of "Ways to the Grave"; vocalist Adrian Selmani is a dead ringer for Mikael Åkerfeldt's throaty and articulate growl, while the music is akin to the latter's last death metal LP: 2008's The Fathomless Mastery.
Yes, this album is fun. You can practically see the band members' shit-eating grins, complete with teeth caked in blood, as they reference greats from within their homeland (Vomitory, Dismember, Grave) and without (Morbid Angel, Deicide).
Album highlight "Hived Mind" ends with dizzying dissonance laid atop creepy chimes; imagine this playing as you crank your jack-in-the-box and picture the horrific creature about to pop out the top. The title of "Writhe" is practically onomatopoeic, as the off-kilter riff squirms atop a bed of chugs, while "Altars of Misery" chooses staccato over static, punctuating with bursts of blast beats and sporadic vocal spurts. The punky power of "Heading for Beheading" is like the downward trajectory of a greased-up guillotine, fast and frictionless.
Choirs and chants are utilized effectively throughout, prominently on "Fear Expulsion" and the title track, though they end up sounding like tired groans by the closing track. In fact, more or less the only downside to Fleshletting is that it sometimes overstays its welcome. For context, the aforementioned Bloodbath album barely breaks 40 minutes; Wretched Fate's debut approaches an hour.
Fortunately, they've already got the chainsaw (tone), so all they have to do is rev it up and trim the fat. And since soft tissue won't dull the teeth, the band can only get leaner and more blood-splattered from here. (Redefining Darkness)