Having recently digested the work of vocalist (and Unquiet Records founder) Tytus Kalicki‘s other band Banisher, hearing the same voice in such a different context as that which Fleshworld provides is in itself impressive. While Banisher revelled in the conventions of modern tech-death, Fleshworld is all about post-metal, specifically of the Cult of Luna and Neurosis variety.
While it certainly doesn’t hurt that one style naturally fits my tastes more than the other, there is a class and emotional resonance in Fleshworld’s music that I was hard-pressed to find in the other band. In any case, Like We’re All Equal Again is crafted from a sound at once both familiar and appealing. While it’s clear that Fleshworld have derived the near-entirety of their sound from the template of the giants of the style, they execute it with tact and passion.
As genre-veterans might expect, the songs are crafted in broad strokes, leisurely shifting between crushing distorted riffs and atmosphere-laden ‘mellow’ passages that are akin to what you would hear in Explosions in the Sky-type post-rock. Although the ambient title track (closer to a soft drone exploration than a full-fledged composition) opens the album misleadingly, everything thereafter is forged from one of those two gear-shifts. And yes, I know the exact same could supplant a description of ISIS or Cult of Luna; Fleshworld are clearly aware that they’re operating underneath the shadow of others. The point is that they’re able to embrace it confidently, without the threat of inviting the comparisons. There are more bands than stars in the sky (in post-metal and elsewhere) that look to their genre’s forefathers and heroes for inspiration, and get rendered entirely irrelevant by the precedent, whether due insufficient vision or confidence. I can have Somewhere Along the Highway and Panopticon hanging at the back of my mind while listening to Like We’re All Equal Again, but it doesn’t serve to deter from my appreciation of what I’m hearing.
Still, even though Like We’re All Equal Again is shared near-solely by ‘sludge’ metal and mellowed post-rock—and fuelled in large part by the dynamic variance between the two—Fleshworld manage to cover a lot of emotional ground all the same. ‘Chant of Many Voices’ begins with the band’s best expression of the latter, (at first) rivalling Explosions in the Sky in hopeful tone and optimism. ‘Hereinafter’ and ‘Dust Eater’, by contrast, sound as if they were inspired by some of the angriest feelings a man can muster. Going back to my first point about the vocalist; Tytus Kalicki may have served his role well in a death metal setting with Banisher, but his throaty aggression is far better suited to Fleshworld.
Possibly excluding the uncharacteristically ambient opener, there’s nothing on Like We’re All Equal Again that should come as a surprise to a fan of post-metal, whether in the ingredients or the way they play out. Even if Fleshworld haven’t cared to innovate or advance their chosen style, their debut enjoys a strong sense of purpose and identity. It may not instil the sense of scope and awe that made its influences classics in the first place, but the next time I’m in the mood to revisit Somewhere Along the Highway, I’ll have this one available as a trusty side-dish.
01) Like We’re All Equal Again
03) Chant of Many Voices
04) Dust Eater
05) The Collapse
06) The Infinite