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Deeds of Flesh - "Portal to Canaan" (CD)

Deeds of Flesh - "Portal to Canaan" CD cover image

"Portal to Canaan" track listing:

1. Amidst the Ruins
2. Entranced in Decades of Psychedelic Sleep
3. Rise of the Virvum Juggernaut
4. Celestial Serpents
5. Caelum Hirundines Terra / The Sky Swallows the Earth
6. Xeno-Virus
7. Hollow Human Husks
8. Portals to Canaan
9. Orphans of Sickness (Gorguts cover)

Reviewed by on December 13, 2013

"Deeds snatches our minds like pod people to plant imagery of sickness, gooey metamorphoses, the enslavement of humankind and other promising notions of our world's future."

Deeds of Flesh deserves credit for helping foster the second wave of death metal. Today, many groups display the same type of meat-hook sharpness and clobbering rhythms as Deeds of Flesh; its members have signed many of these acts to their label, Unique Leader Records. "Portals to Canaan," released via the band's label, shifts the focus from student to mentor, showing the younger guys how it's done.

Science fiction lyrics define the stories found on "Portals to Cannan," and like many bands of this scope, the lyrics aren't rhymed, so listeners get all the gory details. Deeds snatches our minds like pod people to plant imagery of sickness, gooey metamorphoses, the enslavement of humankind and other promising notions of our world's future. Blasting sections and slamming grooves appear throughout the album, but the band's precise playing, particularly their guitar leads, is what binds together this violent space odyssey.

"Portals of Canaan" functions like a film score as guitars, film samples, and strange noise help set the album's tone. A silver screen movie sample puts into perspective the alien-led apocalypse depicted on the title track. The dreamy, wavering guitar solo that opens the track, the odd timing, and the croaking noise resembling an alien finger stretching out all help realize the namesake, "Entrenched in Decades of Psychedelic Sleep." High notes hover in the air like a UFO on "Xeno Virus," creating the perfect bridge to a clubbing groove.

Considering the great ability for swift tempo changes, the band’s decision to cover Gorgut's "Orphans of Sickness" just makes sense. The Canadian's blast-n-bend tempos are a classic formula perfectly conveyed by Deeds of Flesh. The group emulates the Canadians' technical prowess and even surpasses the group in terms of production values.

Deeds of Flesh created a winner in "Portals to Canaan." The band maintains a balance between complex and simple, blunt brutality and melody. The tales of horrific extraterrestrial encounters is a breath of fresh, Martian-killing air. While sci-fi themed death metal albums aren't an extinct art form, it is certainly on the endangered list. Hypocrisy's "Abducted" and Nocturnus "Thresholds" are two classics from the cosmos. Each of these albums have their own flavor, as does "Portals to Canaan." Pick it up while the Earth is still in one piece!

Highs: The sci-fi lyrics and the band's precision playing.

Lows: Some death metal purists may bemoan all the cinematic introductions.

Bottom line: A standout record for fans of science fiction and death metal alike.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)