I am sitting here racking my brain trying to figure out which is the better Fleshcrawl album, this or the 1992 debut "Descend Into The Absurd," as I previewed both before this review. While I am still probably a little bit partial to the the debut as it is one of my favorite death metal albums of all time and one of the releases that really solidified my love for the sound, "Impurity" is not far behind.
What I can say is that "Descend..." is a considerably LONGER album, with nine songs in just over 54 minutes. Well, it is clear from the get-go that on "Impurity," the band was intent on trimming any fat to be found on the predecessor (not that there really was any), as "Impurity" is a whopping 20 minutes shorter and yet with more songs. Where the bulk of the tracks on "Descend..." topped out in the six or seven minute range, "Impurity's" tracks average around four, some less.
What I've always liked about the band in this stage of their career is that they combined a truly brutal underground sound with a certain undeniable professionalism. On "Impurity," part of this can be attributed to the excellent, crystal clear production courtesy of Dan Swano's Unisound Studios. The sound is slightly more polished than on the debut but still just as lethal, making for a devastating listening experience.
On to the songs themselves, "Reincarnation" is a cover of a demo song originally by Finland's Demigod, and is a definite standout. And the band has the class to credit the original prominently in the liner notes. "Subordinated" follows and is another classic, starting out with an odd, jangly Jimi Hendrix/acid rock riff only to erupt into crushing death metal. The rest continue in similar fashion.
This album is just POWERFUL. It has a lot of energy. Vocalist Alex Pretzer has a sick growl, even more guttural than on the debut. Bastian Herzog's drumming is precise and always a highlight. He bashes the hell out of his kit on tracks like "Disfigured."
Fleshcrawl here boast a typical early '90s brutal death metal sound, with a European sheen of class to it. In the mix here I can hear influences of the likes of Gorguts, Carnage/Entombed and Carcass, with the brutality up a notch. But the band definitely have their own identity. They never let one musical idea stagnate within a song and always mix it up to keep things interesting.
One thing "Impurity" does have in common with its predecessor is that it has sadly never been reissued and is therefore hard to find (though "Descend..." is the rarer of the two, commanding sometimes exorbitant prices on the internet). But to sum up, if you are at all into vintage early '90s brutal death metal, you NEED both albums -- they represent the sound at its absolute apex.