“Portals of Canaan” 

by Thor

California’s pioneers of brutal technical death metal—Deeds of Flesh—are back with a new album, “Portals of Canaan”, their second album without founding member and bassist/vocalist Jacoby Kingston.  The band doesn’t miss a beat with this follow up to 2008’s “Of What’s to Come”.

As a natural progression of their last album, “Portals of Canaan” is a high-concept sci-fi nightmare, depicting Lovecraftian terror from the cosmos and science gone horribly wrong.  It features weird synthesizer breaks and affects that sound truly alien and disturbing, along with samples from conceptually kindred sources such as the movie “The Thing” and more.  This album is next-level in all facets.  I’ve been a fan since the mid-‘90s “Gradually Melted” era when Deeds of Flesh were still writing about gore and dismemberment.  While they were top-shelf death metal then, the band’s evolved into some sort of lethal monstrosity like one of the horrifying replicating alien usurpers described in their songs.

As was the case on their last album, guitarist/vocalist Erik Lindmark handles all the vocals in Kingston’s absence and he employs the deep-to-midrange gutturals he’s known for.  Musically, “Portals of Canaan” is a synthesis of conventional tech-brutality and exotic, strange phrasings accompanied by great soloing courtesy of guitarist Craig Peters, another element carried over from “Of What’s to Come”.  The rhythm section is held down by newcomer Ivan Munguia on bass and the incomparable Mike Hamilton obliterating the drum kit.

This album sounds fantastic, as to be expected, as it comes from the band’s own label, Unique Leader—a label that, if nothing else, releases very well produced extreme music.  There are no weaknesses that don’t manifest from my own personal tastes and sensibilities.  For example, occasionally Deeds of Flesh are almost too good for their own good—at times refusing to allow their music to devolve into pure primitive brutality even when doing so would be awesome.  A couple times early on the album when it feels like a slam or a groove is about to drop, they twist it towards technical oblivion thereby robbing those passages of some heaviness and impact.  More often than not, though, they allow for brief interludes of caveman-like violence amid their otherworldly playing.

“Portals of Canaan” features nine tracks of dangerously proficient and concise tech-death that will leave listeners exhausted from fear and aural oppression.  The tracks, “Rise of the Virvum Juggernaut”, “Xeno Virus”, and “Orphans of Sickness” may in fact decimate the planet as we know it.  Beware the new Deeds of Flesh (“beware” = “go purchase”)!