Album Review: Putrescine – “The Fading Flame” 8/10 (Death Metal)

Written by Carcassbomb

PutrescineThe Fading Flame
Death Metal from California, USA
Released March 26th, 2021
Via Tridroid Records

A rip-roaring slab of antifascist aggression that combines a few of my favorite things: Death metal, Dark Souls and complete contempt for a world of unaccountable bastards and kings. And what better way to express that than hammering out some of the foulest Dark Souls lore with disorientating crushing riffage?

It’s an unusual start to the album with a shifting noisy introduction that feels like an uncomfortable clamoring abomination approaching the stage to operate the tools of destruction that set in motion the rest of The Fading Flame. It signifies that this isn’t going to be another run-of-the-mill OSDM release produced in a pinch, but rather something that feels unconventional in its aesthetic while still very much providing the familiar sense of buzz, grinds and grunts that make death metal so infectious. The speeds vary, with some sections sounding like something that would accompany the shambling of Nito approaching from the horizon to spew forth his miasma, and other sections have the fury and surprise of a fucking Bonewheel gang. The songwriting has a unique quality to it that appears to prioritize storytelling as much as it does death metal composition. When you put this on, you’re entering an entire 41minute world of terror.

The vocal roles are performed by two members, Trevor Van Hook (Also rhythm guitar) and Marie McAuliffe (Also drum programming) offering a nice variety of delivery that is always satisfying. I particularly enjoy adding my own vocals during moments without any, usually random deep grunts. It’s that kind of music that encourages you to engage with it and have some fun in that dark kind of way we all like to embrace from time to time. Imagining ourselves as god destroyers and an ungovernable larger-than-life monstrosity. Zachary Sanders (Bass, lead guitars, synth) provides the finishing touches to the composition with solos that are both blistering and dissonant. The bass lines have a frantic pace that acts as a chariot carrying the unkindled into bloody battle. Some synth sneaks in to create moments of unexpected atmosphere, particularly the end track “In A Setting Sun” which also features a fantastic viola appearance by Calin Kim. The Fading Flame is an album with firm bookends and a chunky mid-section. The overall production is raw and underground, providing an additional sense of dread to the experience.

Artwork by Carlos Agraz

Lyrically there’s so much to enjoy as both a massive fan of Dark Souls and an enemy of the status quo. Trevor and Marie have done a great job at translating the fantasy ideas from the games’ lore into metaphors to represent their radical ideas of societal and gender structures with pointed lyrics such as on “Outsider” “A struggle stripped of it’s wings/ Will never reach liberation/ Bloodied stumps beating in vain/ Clipped by liberal consignation/  Cast out by non-conformity/ Death to cis-hetero normativity” that speaks to the deconstruction of the gender prison society thrusts upon us with an oppressive expectation. Putrescine rejects that, with no mercy for outdated and harmful ideology. We also have assaults on capitalism with tracks like “Reek Of Putrescine”: “In gilded palaces/ Lairs of pure excess/ Symbols of wealth wither/ Reclaimed in decay/ Luxury the lair of vultures/ The stench of death abounds/ Vomiting half digested carrion/ Putrefied flesh covers the ground/ The reek of Putrescine/ Like 1000 rotting corpses” which dreams as many of us do, of the unforgiving decay of capitalism and it’s golden idols. Again, I really appreciate the lack of mercy considering how little mercy is found in living under capitalism, a system that cannot be “improved” due to the parasitical nature of it, turning the population against itself and draining earthly resources.

I encourage readers to take a look at the lyrics for themselves to find their own ways to relate and experience the other kinds of ideas presented on this album. Perhaps you will find solidarity here.

Putrescine isn’t just a casual critique of society as is common in metal, they represent actual radicalization at their core as a band and as individuals. If you think these views are too “extreme” then I invite you to take a good look around at just how extreme the status quo is right now, how much violence and discrimination is normalized at the highest level and perpetuated at every other level. Death metal is a very appropriate avenue for these ideas, moving away from the camp or even discriminatory violent ideas common to the genre for shock value and repurposing it for an empowering cause.

In short: Fuck yea


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