Flesh Megalith - Beneath the Rot (Self-released)

Slo-mo doom/death metal has been on a bit of a tear of late, but as more and more talented bands hop into the swampy jacuzzi party, one can sense a burbling unrest as they try to distinguish themselves in lumbering power-chord chuggery. Lovers of Gateway and Mortiferum will surely find much to like in Flesh Megalith, but that is not why Burier’s sophomore effort under that moniker stands out among the formidable slate of underground doom releases this year (e.g. Nephilim’s Noose, Caustic Vomit, and Degraved). Beneath the Rot draws from Coffin Lurker’s divisive foray into droning abstraction, as well as from Cabinet’s command of oubliette atmospherics. And yet, it’s the album’s knack for finding spirituality in repetition that permits it to channel these challenging stylistic elements into a weighty meditation entirely of its own making. Doom was never kvlt (at least not in that sense), but Sleep’s devotion to the “weedian Nazareth” had a whiff of ritualistic solemnity in addition to that of dank bud. Similar to how Dopesmoker (or Jerusalem) accompanied its high-minded devotees along a desert pilgrimage, Beneath the Rot tracks a last-ditch effort to excavate a prehistoric sanctuary from the molten nickel and iron churning at the Earth’s core. Like sirens for anyone left on the face of our desolate planet, the drones on opener “Shrivelled Tongue” anticipate the almighty plunge into riffage. Each chord’s arrival opens up a new rift in the ground, striking deeper and deeper into the subterranean unknown. Between selective piano overlays and clean post-metal arpeggiations on songs like “Bitumen” and “Burning Daylight,” it’s not all grit and grime down there. Still, these gleaming features do not have as much presence as they do in Worm’s recent records, and in that sense are perhaps comparable in ornamental position—if not in historical significance—to Tzompantli’s infusion of traditional indigenous instrumentation. Either way, whenever a crystalline cavern of clean strumming glistens in the dark, Flesh Megalith’s trenchant growl and booming grooves treat it as just another geological formation to be bludgeoned on a journey to the center of the Earth. It’s a dig of planetary proportions, and doom lovers ready to behold what lies Beneath the Rot should definitely get their shovels ready.