SUFFOCATION / FLESHCRAWL - Festering Thoughts from a Grave (RAW SKULL Rekordz CD 2016)
Demo compilation of Fleshcrawl is definitely something what death metal maniacs should welcome with open arms. This is such a killer band, I think they never recorded a bad album and ever since they debuted with “Lost in a Grave” EP in 1991 they’ve been delivering only fantastic stuff. This compilation is quite special, because it’s includes also stuff, which was recorded in pre-Fleshcrawl band, when they were called Suffocation. So, we have “Mummified Thoughts” demo from 1990 and “Festering Flesh” from 1991. I never had a chance to hear either of these two demos before, so it’s a great pleasure to have them on CD in good quality and to be able to finally listen to them.
Starting the feast with “Mummified Thoughts” then, I was really surprised to find out that Suffocation in their early days were more thrash metal band than death metal. Do not expect to hear anything even close stylistically, not me mention the quality, to Fleshcrawl’s debut album, because this demo is completely different. It’s savage, vicious and quite aggressive thrash metal, I guess they had equally European as well as American influences, with the vocals far from the guttural growl of death metal bands… I have to say that I quite like their raw production on this demo and the songs, even if are far from being very impressive – because it’s quite primitive and archaic sounding stuff – are decent. Sometimes I get annoyed with some of the vocal lines, but who cares, right? It’s 1990 demo! I think that such demos give a lot of fun to listener, when he hears them these days. You know, this demo was recorded by some kids 26 years ago, but this recording survived all this time and was rescued from oblivion, which is very cool thing I must say.
Second Suffocation demo “Festering Flesh” demo shows a good improvement, basically everything on this demo sounds different and better. Not only Alex Pretzer changed his vocals for the low, deep growl, but the music of Suffocation became heavier, more brutal and the weak thrash metal is replaced with very harsh and raw sounding death metal. It’s not bad at all and the demo sounds quite solid, although the sound could have been a bit better. And I don’t necessarily mean the production value per se, but rather the fact that sometimes, like in “Phrenetic Tendencies” or even more in “Infected Subconscious” the sound is waving, so it feels like they’ve taken the music from an old and pretty used copy of cassette. It does disturb a bit and surely this aspect could have been improved, but I am far from feeling disappointed. It just feels great to hear “Festering Flesh”, solid demo and good announcement of what was yet to come from these guys.
The final part of “Festering Thoughts from a Grave” is the classic “Lost In a Grave” EP, released already under the name Fleshcrawl. Again you will notice much improvement in this band’s music, I like this EP a lot, especially the title song sounds killer, so definitely this is my favourite part of this compilation. I don’t know if there’s much point in describing this EP, because I believe that old maniacs know it well, but let me just say that Fleshcrawl sounds fuckin savage on “Lost In a Grave” and it’s just great piece of death metal. It’s one of those classic releases, which you want to come back to as often as possible. It’s the real beginning of this fantastic German band, who through all these years became one of my favourite band of all time. So, even if the demos are not necessarily the best thing I ever listened to, it’s great to have “Festering Thoughts from a Grave” in my collection, as it is an important part of the history of Fleshcrawl.
Final rate: 75/100