Of Feather and Bone have come to the table with teeth bared and claws flashing. Pardon the hyperbole, but Embrace the Wretched Flesh is, so far, one of 2015’s strongest releases. Following their EPs, False Healer and Adorned in Decay, along with a split with Reproacher, this debut LP demonstrates this Denver, Colorado trio at their stylistic and furious best. The pace here is breathless, with their raging river of crust and hardcore drowning each other into a cohesive abomination throughout its ten tracks. The scarlet vein of progression can be traced effortlessly through Of Feather and Bone’s catalog, with Embrace the Wretched Flesh branching fluidly from the dark hardcore trappings of Adorned in Decay. Replete with snarling crust punk bursts, the album is punctuated by blunt force transitions that’ll have you slamming your fist into whatever hapless, inanimate surface is within reach.
Embrace the Wretched Flesh, even for a collection steeped in Tragedy and Disembodied, is vicious in a way that few albums this year have matched. Off the bat, the album calls to mind the bleak isolation and buzzsaw precision of contemporaries Young and in the Way and Gatecreeper, respectively. Of Feather and Bone have all but redefined the usually accessible, one-two-punch of the breakdown, something they did prior on Adorned in Decay’s “Deprivation.” Here, however, what usually gets the Hot Topic deathcore crowd moist is made feral, with those cherished crowd kill moments made threatening to even approach. This album is a cage for unspeakable horrors that Of Feather and Bone have managed to tame to their diabolical will.
The brooding atmosphere is most weighty on “Confined Violence,” which bookends its midnight meat train chuggery with black metal grimness, a trick that is used to great effect throughout the LP. The bass tone on “You Alone Will Suffer” cradles the cult-like chant of the band before vocalist/bassist Alvino Saucedo and guitarist David Grant spiral into bombastic, frenetic display that segues into “Proclaim of Hate.” Here, at the song’s lower midsection, the strings shudder like a grating chainsaw, while Preston Weippert’s drums, here and on the album as a whole, rain down like leaden meteors upon a tin roof. The tone shifts from urgent to downright climactic with “Deafening Call,” with the guitar rising like a chilling shroud behind Alvino’s were-hardcore vocals, branching into the highly moshable “Bound to Guilt.” By the latter’s end, the album drags its clawed-fists into sludge territory, churning that malevolent murk into a chin-crusher of a breakdown.
Blade-thin thrash cuts through the sludge immediately on “Ignore Their Remorse,” quickening the pace to a sustained, anxious breath that finally caves towards its end as the song’s lungs collapse into a punk-laden hyperventilation. “The Profane” is 90s hardcore meets the gloom and doom of metal’s bleaker territories, inexplicably marrying early-Paradise Lost and Petitioning the Empty Sky-era Converge. This is the album’s slowest, however most unique track, bearing a sloth-like pace with an entire wolf pack’s worth of savagery. The blood from the kill spills through in torrents on closer, “Existence Through Hate,” a riptide of serrated riffs, ribs-breaking drums and lurking bass lines that take flight on the vocals’ apocalyptic war cry.
In a year where even their own label, Good Fight Music, is unleashing quality releases from the likes of Axis and Old Wounds, Of Feather and Bone’s debut album stands on all fours, proud and with fangs gleaming, its prey every end of the year list that’ll cross its path.
Embrace the Wretched Flesh can be ordered here.