Sunday, January 11, 2009

CHAINMAIL: Flaming Tusk - Abigail (self-released, 2008)

The CHAINMAIL section reviews bands that were proactive enough to e-mail me directly. Here at Cerebral Metalhead, initiative is rewarded.

Up until the final week of last year, I thought that the horrific spate of shark attacks that inspired Akimbo's latest opus was the most metal subject matter that I'd find for any album released in 2008. Then Flaming Tusk's rhythm guitarist Antipope Zosimus sent me a link to his band's debut Abigail EP, the title and first track of which reference the story of six-year-old Abigail Taylor, who had 21 feet of her small intestine sucked out through her anus by a swimming pool drainage system. Metal-friendly themes of evisceration, tragedy, loss of innocence and the danger lurking in the watery depths all collude for one beast of a back story. 

Such a monumentally grisly inspiration demands equally grisly music, and Flaming Tusk get halfway there. Their crunchy granola of various metal strains -- from Ludicra-style black metal to NWOBHM stomps and the occasional glassy prog-guitar sections -- has the potential to make a daunting debut out of the Abigail EP. Unfortunately too much of this release sounds inchoate. In a recent interview with, the band revealed that they initially intended Abigail as a demo but loved the final mix enough to release it as a proper EP. Bad decision. I'm all for raw sonics, but only if it serves the tunes. Flaming Tusk's dynamic songs deserve tighter rhythms, more fully-fleshed transitions and a far more dynamic production than the mid-range-heavy treatments they've been afforded here. Flaming Tusk's got a good guitar tone for this kind of stuff but they've muted its effect with a production that flattens Abigail's many peaks and valleys. This EP  should suck intestines straight out of your rectum. Instead, it just tugs real hard at your swimsuit.

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