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In the decade that the band was originally active, from 1998 to 2008, Brodequin released three albums, of which “Methods Of Execution” was the last. On “Methods Of Execution” all the pieces fell in place. For the first time the band had a production worth mentioning, and the presentation finally lived up to the concept. Armed with a new drummer, and stronger song material Brodequin ended on a high note. As such “Methods Of Execution” is the only Brodequin record worth seeking out.

Creative differences between guitarist Mike Bailey and Chad Walls led to the latter’s ousting in the pre-production phase of the third album. Making his recording debut with Brodequin is drummer Jon Engman. Engman is a suitable replacement for Walls, as both men have a similar drumming style. For the first time Brodequin was able to self-produce a music video, ‘Slaves to the Pyre’ was given the treatment.

As before the lyrics of Brodequin detail the various methods and techniques used through out ages. On “Methods Of Execution” these include death by fire, death by pressing, and death by drowning (‘Verdrinken’ translates to ‘drowning’ in Dutch/Flemish). ‘Tyburn Field’ is about the English village of the same name which was synonymous with capital punishment, especially for religious martyrs and traitors, during the 18th century. As before Brodequin details a number of torture devices, this time being the gridiron, the guillotine, and thumbscrews.

In comparison to the preceding two records “Methods Of Execution” has far more diverse riffing. Most of the songs can actually be told apart as there’s a greater variety of rhythms within the repertoire of the album. All three tracks of the 2003 “Prelude to Execution” EP make an appearance here along with a selection of all new material. It seems as Brodequin did a concerted effort to vary up its music, and of the three records that the band cut in its orginal run, “Methods Of Execution” is the strongest. The biggest strike against the record are still the entirely monotonous vocals. A bit of narration in ‘Tyburn Field’ notwithstanding the vocals are another percussive aspect to an already dense and intensive assault.

Whereas progression was made in terms of production, presentation and composition – the lyrics sadly have fallen behind. While still purely descriptive of the atrocities inflicted upon the victims of the instruments of torture, Bailey’s lyrics aren’t quite as imaginative, nor as strong, as on the previous two releases. Much like erstwhile Disgorge frontman Matti Way, Jamie Bailey is mostly famous for his guttural depth but an unfortunate byproduct of that is that his occasionally interesting lyrics are overlooked due to the sheer monotony of his delivery. Whereas the previous two records had superior descriptions of torture devices, one can only imagine what could have been had more time been spent on penning better lyrics and expanding the array of vocal techniques.

“Methods Of Execution” was recorded at Asylum Studios in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Tim Bleske producing. It was mastered at Mastermind Studios in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Trevor Sadler. For the first time the bass guitar and drums can both be heard clearly. The guitars sound less crunchy than on the preceding record, and some of the clarity was lost. Once again the layout and design was handled by Jamie Bailey for Voodoo Design Studio. It is the best Brodequin product in terms of artwork, design and layout by a wide margin. For the first time music and visuals work in perfect symmetry.

Once again the album was released through the band’s own Unmatched Brutality Records. The addition of a new drummer had lit a fire on the Bailey brothers, and as a result “Methods Of Execution” was far more diverse and intense offering. Despite having a fascination with various forms, techniques and instruments of torture since forming “Methods Of Execution” was the first to live up to its concept. The trio did a concerted effort to vary up its music, and the superior production work was some of the best they had experienced up to that point. “Methods Of Execution”, the final album of the band’s original run, is the only worth seeking out.

Fleshgrind

“The Seeds Of Abysmal Torment” saw Chicago bruisers Fleshgrind move into slightly more technical and challenging territory. In the decade-plus that they were active, from 1993 to 2005, they released three albums, of which “The Seeds Of Abysmal Torment” was the second. Moving away from the trite gore – and horror subject matter of its debut this second album moves into more earthy and socio-political territory. Even though the differences with “Destined For Defilement” are minimal, and cosmetic at best – by 2000 Fleshgrind was outplayed by a new generation of bands who played death metal more technical, and faster. The record represents a leap forward for a band that never was able to cement its reputation despite its status as respectable scene veterans. It is the last Fleshgrind record to be recorded and produced by Broken Hope member Brian Griffin.

Fleshgrind

It remains a mystery why Fleshgrind opted for a single-guitar setup after frontman Lipcomb’s commendable job as a rhythm player on its debut outing. The installing of Alan Collado on drums, and James Genenz on bass guitar led to a more lively rhythm section. The drumming had become more complex with more fills, rolls, and cymbal crashes along with nearly constant thundering double-bass drums. While the guitar work has improved there still are no leads, or solos – and that is to the band’s everlasting detriment. Had there been a number of solos then perhaps these battering, but otherwise mundane, excercises in banality would have had an identifier, or two. Even though there are some dark melodies and dissonant chord progressions in ‘Monarch Of Misery’, plus a brief bass guitar break and some prominent bass licks in ‘The Deviating Ceremonies’ and ‘A Legion Of Illusions’ – the record is hardly unsettling, threatening and morbid sounding at any point during its playing time. ‘Seas Of Harrow’, the only song to clock under two minutes, had the potential of being a better, more involving song, but it wasn’t given the proper time for its ideas to be meaningfully expanded upon. ‘Hogtied and Hatefucked’ is probably the most bouncy track Fleshgrind ever wrote up that point in time.

The lyrics largely moved away from the archetypical horror, and gore subject matter of the previous record. Instead the lyrics of “The Seeds Of Abysmal Torment” deal with more earthy, interpersonal and socio-political themes, including abuse (‘Destroying Your Will’, ‘Seas Of Harrow’, ‘Hogtied and Hatefucked’), conflict (‘Desire For Control’, ‘The Deviating Ceremonies’), introspection (‘Monarch Of Misery’), depression (‘Disdain the Mournful’, ‘Hatred Embodied’), and mental instability (‘The Supreme Art Of Derangement’). It’s rather unfortunate that Fleshgrind would abandon this subject matter to return to the conventional gore – and horror thematic on its third, and final, album. Given the nature of the album the lyrics are its most interesting aspect, even though they aren’t exactly stellar in any way.

As before Steve Murray wrote the majority of the record, as with the preceding album he wrote together with his drummer, in this instance Alan Collado. Only ‘Hogtied and Hatefucked’ had lyrics written by bass guitarist James Genenz. Interesting is that frontman Rich Lipscomb, who was more hands-on on the previous record, had no input in any of the lyrics. While there was never anything particularly ornamental about Fleshgrind and its music, its down-to-basics approach might be functional (and mildly effective even) - on a purely visceral level, and in the live arena – it leaves little to the imagination, and to latch onto in studio recorded form. Not even the guest vocals by Leonard ‘Lenzig’ Leal (Cephalic Carnage) add anything of worth to the tracks they appear on. The least one could say about “The Seeds Of Abysmal Torment” is that Chicago bruisers Fleshgrind went from mere redundance to an adequate level of faceless competence, but little more at best.

The move to a different recording facility is both a benefit and a detriment to the proceedings. For the first, and only, time Fleshgrind recorded at Quali-tone Studios in Beach Park, Illinois with Brian Griffin (Broken Hope) producing, whereas Trevor Sadler at Mastermind Productions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin mastered the album. While Fleshgrind had a long history (dating back to its demo tapes) of working with Brian Griffin the production on “The Seeds Of Abysmal Torment” is problematic in its own peculiar ways. The thickness that characterized “Destined For Defilement” is replaced with a digital crispness that strangely lacks clarity and definition. The bass guitar can be felt but is audible only in bits and parts of the album. The only thing that has markedly improved is the drum tone. The artwork by Juha Vuorma isn’t very special, and his work on the Malignancy debut “Intrauterine Cannibalism” was far more commendable. “The Seeds Of Abysmal Torment” was released in 2000 through Olympic Recordings in North America and Season Of Mist in Europe. In retrospect the only memorable thing about it is that Maltese death metal band Abysmal Torment took its name from this album’s title.