The rotten, maggot-filled style of sickening death metal shown throughout "The Fleshland" strongly contradicts the squeaky-clean production values and digestible songwriting of groups like Amon Amarth or Kataklysm. Coffins, hailing from Japan, focuses on the doom-laden crunchiness of Autopsy and Asphyx, consequently leading the group's fourth full-length release to sound like the most undercooked piece of meat that the slaughterhouse has to offer. Although "The Fleshland" will probably repel many metal fans unfamiliar with the sloppy clattering of Autopsy or the ultra-primitive beatings akin to bands like Celtic Frost or Necrophagia, casual listeners who cherish truly vile and deplorable musical conditions will see "The Fleshland" for what it is: horrific and evil death metal. It's got blood, and it's got gore; I love these things, and Coffins gives me more!
I could spend this whole review talking about how the album sounds like dismembered bodies or whatever, which is kind of funny, because it actually sounds like dismembered bodies. "The Fleshland" marks seventeen years of doing the death metal dance for the gentlemen of Coffins, and I think it's safe to say that this isn't a radical departure from any of their previous works by any stretch of the imagination. Coffins' style is uneasy, unpolished, unostentatious. The band makes no attempt to appear larger than life or to prove itself an elite master of death metal, and I think that's a point often missed when this type of record rolls around. The riffs are often slow-cooked and grimy, conjuring ripples of the guileless Autopsy, mixed into a raw sound quality that brings the bass, drums, and vocals into equal perimeters. That said, the atmosphere is archaic and dirty, bringing life to the undead essence of "The Fleshland" through the filthiest of sounds.
Obviously things on the musical end are far from sanitized. Right from the get-go Coffins dives into a swamp of sludgy, crawling riffs and brutal grooves that once again conjure the works of Autopsy, Celtic Frost, Asphyx, and other primitive idols of death metal. "Here Comes Perdition" and "Hellbringer," the opening tunes, are the best songs here; they're both neck-snapping drills of atonal, creepy guitar work and precise percussion patterns that hammer home the definition of barbarism. "The Colossal Hole" and "The Vacant Pale Vessel" show the group's doom obsession, clearly drifting away from the occasional up-tempo themes and instead dwelling on clobbering sections of slow riffing and punishing brutality. Heavier than heavy itself. "No Saviour" kills everything with a savage riff and some of the rawest blast beats I've ever heard. The undercooked quality is maddening.
The sepulchral grunts act as the figurative cherry placed firmly on top of Coffins' sundae of guts, the concrete definition of utter repulsion coming from human vocal chords. Not the most colorful record ever made, but Coffins does what they do with fine attention, and they consistently vomit up demented songs covered in decay and carnage that provide musical gangrene and its complementary woes. But yeah, few bands manage to be this insanely unsophisticated and depraved, but Coffins has it nailed, and I can almost feel my sternum crack with each guttural rasp. "The Fleshland" is a great alternative from a world drowning in Amon Amarth clones, and I'll gladly take this over the next fourth-rate Dethklok knock-off.