Coffins – The Fleshland

CoffinsTheFleshlandI don’t know about you, but when I first heard this band’s hearty stew of Eyehategod’s misanthropic dope and whiskey fueled sludge, the doomy death metal stylings of Acts Of The Unspeakable-era Autopsy and Winter along with pinches of the old masters Saint Vitus and Candlemass, and a little bit of punky groove sensibility that gets the pit churning, I was sold. Japan’s own Coffins, perhaps one of the most weighty acts in the world, boasting three impossibly heavy LPs (the best and most varied of which being Buried Death) and a battalion of splits and EPs released in the Japanese metal underground, has been quite the coveted filth-encrusted gem for any fan of metal who actually likes it heavy. This being their fourth full-length, they’ve understandably got their work cut out for them in keeping people interested in their brand of merciless riffage from the deep, as this kind of aural assault can become wearisome in the wrong hands.

Indeed, we are fortunate that the Coffins crew is willing to grow and adapt, even in a genre where the low-E string is king. From the opening track ‘Here Comes Perdition’, it’s obvious that they’ve made a change in their production values, with the once dense and crusty sound still remaining heavy, but with a more modern steely sheen similar to that of Grave’s new record, Endless Procession of Souls. This new production only serves to let Bungo’s once somewhat garbled swamp monster vocals come into the forefront of the listener’s attention, hearkening to their Swedish masters in Bloodbath in shorter cuts like aptly named ‘Hellbringer’. As far as songwriting goes, that has remained much the same, alternating between stomping death metal grooves, brutally constructed sludge passages that drown the senses, and mid-tempo sections that just scream ‘circle pit’. It’s a formula, yes, but like any great band, they’ll do it well enough until we get sick of it, and I’m personally not.

While The Fleshland is a safe bet, in that it doesn’t stray far from what they’re known for in offal-soaked sickness and depravity, the more modern production values and more frequent inclusion of dark melodies flirted with on some songs in Buried Death and the March of Despair EP keep their cadaverous presence as ripe as it ever was, with plenty of muscle with which to wrest life from your feeble bodies.

8.5/10

Sean Pierre-Antoine

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