ALCHEMY OF FLESH - AGELESS ABOMINATIONS
BRUTAL HOMAGE TO FLORIDA'S DEATH METAL HERITAGE
If you are a death metal fan of a certain vintage, the opening blasts of Ageless Abominations will instantly tell you this is an unapologetic panegyric to Morbid Angel. Alchemy of Flesh is a solo effort from one Tim Rowland who is a multi-instrumentalist and, going by this, a nostalgist for the famous Florida death metal heritage. Right enough, upon consulting Bandcamp, it is clear where Rowland's loyalties lie with loud, proud and unabashed salutations to US death metal’s fetid origins. He even goes as far as using the same string set up as Trey Azagthoth, Morbid Angel’s eccentric creative force.
Ageless Abominations comprises nine tracks of utterly pummelling, remorseless racket. The overwhelming influence is, of course, unashamedly Morbid Angel along with elements of not too dissimilar acts such as Hate Eternal and Incantation. Pain Primordial and House of Earth and the denture-loosening Slipgates to Annihilation offer up uncompromising, primordial battering rams – the sheer overwhelming impact of which can camouflage a few subtle structural complexities. The pace alters often with abrupt, grandiose time changes and slower lysergic crawls like Knotter of Entrails but, overall, Rowland seems happiest in a dread-inspired mid-paced gear.
A standout feature of this record is the double pedal percussion, which is militaristic, mechanical-like and highly calibrated. It is a real propellant force, the precision of which offsets the macabre, slimy sound. The vocals, meanwhile, are embedded without variation in low register guttural growl which feeds into an atmosphere that is hellishly pre-historic like oozing lava flows - enclosing, claustrophobic with existential dread all redolent of Azagthoth’s crazed nightmares.
Being honest, Ageless Abominations could face the charge of simply wallowing in the past glories of scene progenitors and personal heroes, without probing into any new territory or diverging into different directions. That would be very hard to repudiate as this is indeed retro-fetishism played by a diehard enthusiast, albeit with some modern production values. But, as is so often the case, death metal seems to just get away with it. Playing with unalloyed and unreconstructed reverence to scene mores is the point you see. Committed homages like this are common practice and, when done well (like this), it goes down a treat with the home crowd. It is a death metal thing, you know. Death metal such as this is like necking lots of beer and vomiting into a pint glass, then drinking it again before regurgitating it once more – all the while performing eye rolling grimaces, waggling your tongue and waving devil horns. It’s not original but gets a huge, primordial group bellow of approval from mates.