Monday, October 30, 2017

a commentary on Seattle's A Flourishing Scourge's 2017 album

Sometime ago I commented on the first few songs from this self-titled debut full-length album by the Seattle band A Flourishing Scourge, and I said that I would come back to the whole album, given the magnitude of the whole work. Therefore, here is the full commentary. If you read it before, the part is that is new begins after the band pictures below, with song number 4.--MMB
A Flourishing Scourge
A Flourishing Scourge
release date: June 9th, 2017
label: independent
1.Tidal Waves 09:54
2.To the Stench of a Rotting Corpse 06:30
3.Insatiable 06:50
4.Onerous 08:18
5.Awakened 02:58
6.Vacant 07:17
7.The Hedonist 08:12
8.Solace 09:20
total time 59:19
Seattle's A Flourishing Scourge is progressive extreme metal, but maybe we need to say what they are and what they are not, given that progressive has so many meanings. Some people have noticed that progressive is often used for various forms of punk, hardcore, postrock, djent, deathcore, metalcore and that type of groove-guitar/chugging stuff. That's not A Flourishing Scourge. This band has big riffs, hooks, melodies, the type that come from heavy metal because this is a heavy metal band: anyone into thrash, death and black metal will feel at home with the guitar work, and with the intense drumming. This is not a band that plays “grooves” and this is not a band that chugs away at the low strings. The drumming is, basically, traditional death and black metal drumming, it’s not “groove” drumming.
The vocals are growled and deep, not whiny or screamo. This may or may not be a problem for some. You'll have to decide. It's traditional extreme metal growling, basically; not microphone-cupping, low-intensity growling. It's extreme metal vocals with fullness and depth.
Supposedly, there is a problem with the length of the album. It is almost an hour of music and this is a turn off for some or it is too much for others or whatnot. Is the music too much today and don't feel like listening to the complete album? Press pause or stop and come back to it another time. Maybe you can handle it only a couple of songs at a time? I bet A Flourishing Scourge has no problem with that.
This is a professional album by an independent band. I can tell you for a fact that this album has cost a pretty penny to make. Who knows if there will be another album? Maybe they will break up? Maybe the next album won't be for another seven years? If a band spends its own money, and they have gone way above the call of duty to make an album that makes them and Seattle metal proud, isn't that something to celebrate?
Maybe you don't like extreme metal. Understood. Maybe you don't like prog. I get it. But if you want skills, professionalism, intelligence, dedication to the craft, a love of metal music, thoughtfulness, effort, hard work and songs by a heavy metal band that is thinking big, then this is what you will find on the album. Let me show you.
1.Tidal Waves 09:54
You could say that A Flourishing Scourge starts the album with a song of melodic black metal with a robust death metal production. Right away you can hear the importance of black metal for the band. The guitar work is definitely based on black metal, then around the three-minute mark the pace changes through a mellow pause before once again diving into extreme metal territory and before you know it, now there is a big progressive feel in the guitar while the speed seems to have increased. Lots of tremolo moments backed up with a thick, thrashing rhythm. Then, down the stretch, things slow down a bit, the bass guitar transitions to slower guitar work, then some tremolo melodies wrap it all up. Big statement from the band: Here we are, this is what we do. How do you like them apples?!
2.To the Stench of a Rotting Corpse 06:30
The title is the most different of all the songs. You would think it's a brutal death metal band. Kind of strange. Sure. This track begins very softly and contemplatively, but then out of nowhere the blasting black metal tears through the peace, then a transition to less frenzied pace yet still very much uptempo. The song does have vocals, but the guitar power is so decisive that the guitars are rulers of this realm. In particular, the last portion of the song is very melodic and the melodies go at a nice, ear-friendly pace, and that’s how the song ends. Very nice.
3.Insatiable 06:50
Total blasting black metal at the beginning. This is A Flourishing Scourge going as fast and as black metal as they can. At about the 1:30 mark the speed lets up a bit, for an uptempo mood, with some lower, brutal growling. At about 3:00 the song is still a headbanging tune, still going strong, but something else has crept up: the progressive riffs, the thrashiers bits, the melodies all have entered the door and have made themselves comfortable and by 4:30 the guitar solo is in full swing. The guitar harmonies, the melodies are taking this one home, but not before a very pleasant segment, about a minute, of acoustic guitar comes in and takes the song to the very end.
4.Onerous 08:18
After spending time with three songs in which the songwriting is characterized by black metal and death metal intensity enriched with progressive complexity, and a professional production, it’s a bit easier to see how these musicians think and how meticulously they approach their work. This particular song is another long track that requires several listens to make sense and only after repeated listens do I get a good feel for this song. Overall, it starts out as a heavy progressive track which then goes into extreme metal territory, like blasting and speed. This one rounds out the massive first half of the album comprised of four songs that require the listener’s full attention. Essentially, the band does four epic songs with the intention of giving any other album in 2017 a run for their money.
5.Awakened 02:58
After four songs that take the listener for a twisted ride, wouldn’t be it nice to have a break? The band just took the listener on an all-out intense listening session that is taxing on the senses. Consider how long it takes to write these songs. Consider how much work it is to get them right when they play them at first. After that intensity, a break might not be a bad idea, eh? It’s about three minutes of serene piano, and some gentle background sounds; a completely different experience from what has preceded this transitional piece.
6.Vacant 07:17
This song continues the peace. The bands does not throw you to the wolves again. Not yet. This song takes the long winding road to its destination. The keyboards are prominent is some spots. The mellow side of the band and their crazy side finally show up in a much more full coexistence. The soloing towards the end is beautiful before stepping aside for the extreme metal’s arrival, which marks the end of the song.
7.The Hedonist 08:12
My impression is that this is the most straightforward, upfront extreme metal song on the album. The song has all sorts of fun details. Some American brutal death metal blasting, some European black metal blasting. This is the band getting down and making a bit of music for the moshpit. In fact, it is an instrumental because they must have not wanted to ruin the fun with any more interferences. It begins quietly, but it builds up quite well and in a measured manner. I think it is cool how the band even shows a bit of the old blasting style of the Mike Smith school of drumming. By the 2:45 mark the song has entered the extreme metal threshold and it is going at a high speed. The song pretty much stays that way until the end: fast, intense and headbanging.
8.Solace 09:20
I am convinced the introduction to this song is an inside joke. For some 53 seconds the song lures you into thinking that it is going to be like Beethoven's "Für Elise," but just when you thought that they were going to take it easy on you because it is the last song, then they burst out of the gate with a moshing and headbanging segment, which then turns into an extended solemn part of the song and it looks like this is the way that they will open the door and take their leave, but not quite. Just before leaving, they launch into a short bout of extreme metal to close the album out with a bit of a bang.
Now it's your turn. Give some of your time to the creation of extreme and progressive metal named A Flourishing Scourge and perhaps you will also discover the music behind the sounds.
aflourishingscourge.bandcamp.com/releases
reverbnation.com/aflourishingscourge/songs
facebook.com/aflourishingscourge

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