FLOURISHING — The Sum of All Fossils (review)

FLOURISHING — The Sum of All Fossils album cover Album · 2011 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
Metal Music Archives Reviewer's Challenge: June 2022

Death metal got disconnected somewhere along the line.

When the genre first spawned from bands who found thrash metal wasn’t extreme enough for them, the focus was mainly on big riffs and brutality. Like thrash before it, there was a certain melodic groove to it, albeit buried under layers of monstrous guitars, thunderous drums, and bestial vocals.

Fast forward to the 21st century and for some strange reason, new death metal bands don’t seem to have anywhere near the same focus on musicality. Instead, it seems technical prowess, off-the-wall time signatures and arrangements, and headache-inducing discordance are the flavour of the time instead. The old bands realised death metal is still music, while the newer ones don’t.

A bit of dissonance and discordance, and brutal technicality can be great to listen to, but such things need to allow room for the underlying music to breathe, otherwise you may as well listen to Merzbow demolish buildings with decorated amplified white noise. Enter Flourishing, who connected things back up again.

“The Sum of All Fossils” has the groove and expressiveness so beloved by death metal’s founders, while incorporating the brutal technicality and clashing disharmonia so ever-present in today’s death metal. This is undoubtedly a death metal album, but thrown in are elements of Neurosis-like post-apocalyptic guitar scrapes, Skin Chamber’s industro-death blown throat dual vocals, and some big sludgy chunks of Crowbar. Imagine a harder edged Gojira partnered with pre-prog Pestilence, and Disharmonic Orchestra overseeing it all with bleak surrealistic cyberpunk lyrics.

There’s nothing as conventional as intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/outro songwriting here. The music, like the lyrics, seems to be stream of consciousness, but at the same time seems precise and rehearsed rather than loose and improvised. While the music is compelling and hard to break from, the lyricism seems dense and impenetrable. Observe “Fossil Record”: “Rates increase all the time and embrace all of these thoughts. So lost. Photographs fade in every era. Left with their solitude. Reasoning dulls. Voids become deep. Alarm. They plant seeds of high purpose. Mortals drone on.” It’s a bleak but powerful vision of… what? It seems left to the listener’s interpretation.

This is an album-sized exercise in brutality and beauty to be consumed in it’s entirety, rather than trying to pluck song from song, as it is a singular vision viewed in eight parts rather than a collection of eight songs squeezed together and called an album. “The Sum of All Fossils” fills a missing link between two divergent, distantly related metal sub-genre which share a common ancestor, but long ago branched in different directions.
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21 days ago
Very eloquent as always Patrick. Also, glad you enjoyed the album!

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