Bleak Flesh – The Gateway by Lee Carter

Rating: 3/5
Released: 2013
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Bleak Flesh The Gateway

Band Line-up:

Paulo Cárcamo – Vocals
Matías Quiroz – Guitar
Nicolás Martínez – Guitar
Sebastián Vidal – Drums
Enrique Carvajal – Bass.

Track Listing:

1. At The Gates Of The Universe
2. The Path Of Entropy
3. Introspective Hypernova
4. Cryosphere


BLEAK FLESH, hailing from Chile, announce their formal entrance to the metal world with their debut EP “The Gateway”. Independently released four years after their inception in 2009, they ply their trade in death metal and draw inspiration from the cosmic and astrological. It is not a new interest, though does present a great area to delve into that often reaps some fantastical sounds. Do BLEAK FLESH tap into this with their first EP?

Opener “At The Gates Of The Universe” breathes into life with harmonised lead amidst swirling synths and electronic bleeps before erupting into a series of groove-laden riffs that are supplemented exquisitely with some frenetic drum work. As an instrumental opening an EP that runs just shy of twenty minutes, it presents a huge risk. An EP so short will require grabbing the listener’s attention immediately and never relinquishing it until the final notes fade out at the end of the record. Does this do that? Well in a way, it does. The immediacy of it is apparent and certainly draws listeners in, but it is rather a frenzied piece – it feels restless and a little overwrought. As an opener, it announces the band’s sound well enough but as a song “At The Gates Of The Universe” needs some fat trimmed.

Following on is the more refined “The Path Of Entropy”. The riffs sit well with one another and binds the song into a furious collection of scurrying riffs, technical proficiency  sprinkled with small electronic sounds that push the space/astrological theme “The Gateway” centres around. Vocalist Paulo Cárcamo makes his entrance here and his mid-range growl centres the band’s busy sound; adding a cold, mechanical aspect that more than matches the cold, bleak void of space.

“Introspective Hypernova” continues the band’s relentless approach and showcases a slight progressive edge in the softer passages, with guitarists Matías Quiroz and Nicolás Martínez combining well through their harmonies and flaying riffs. In fact, these softer sections almost deceive that the tempo has dropped to allow for breath to be drawn. It hasn’t dropped by much, but it is enough to make for a significant addition to the track that it makes for a better overall sound. The final throes include some added electronics and even some vocoder on Cárcamo’s vocals (giving a pseudo-CYNIC) feel to it and further enriching the cosmic sentiments the EP focuses on.

“Crysphere” serves to close the album and begins life majestically – string synthesiser used to add a soaring, grandiose factor to the crushing onslaught beneath. Drummer Sebastián Vidal shines with a commanding performance atop the drum throne; balancing intricate cymbal work with breath-taking blastbeats, whilst bassist Enrique Carvajal adds an additional layer of complexity with finger-dancing lines during the softer section around the middle of the track. However, it is the use of the string synthesiser that takes the plaudits for the song. Sounding both imperious and vast, it takes “Cryosphere” to a higher level and rounds off the EP on a high. Its use throughout the rest of the EP would have made a welcome addition.

“The Gateway” is a strong debut EP and sets the band up well for future releases. At twenty minutes, it is an easily digestible chunk of what to expect, though there are times where the unremitting pace makes it seem less palatable – those softer sections are welcome breaks, even if all-too-brief. There is a fine and balanced mix on offer, and allows those electronic elements to come through when needed. Having said that, those occasional bleeps and bloops from the electronics will likely deter some who deem it as unnecessary noise, though one would argue that it does provide an extension to the theme and provides lighter relief from the turbulence beneath. Nevertheless, it serves as a solid start to the career and we can look forward to a strong debut album from BLEAK FLESH.

Review by Lee Carter