REVIEW: Coffins - The Fleshland

Genre: Death/Doom Metal
Label: Relapse
Date of Release: July 9, 2013


Japanese quartet Coffins is a band that is not looking to deliver any softness in their tunes. The project began in 1996 from Tokyo, and after that, their massive discography mostly consisted of split albums with bands including Hooded Menace and Warhammer. However, this collection does have its fair share of full-length records. In fact, the newest addition to this category would be the band's fourth one released in 2013, "The Fleshland." In terms of albums in general, this album proves to be on the fence in terms of likability.

As the album's gruesome artwork suggests, "The Fleshland" is composed of raw, slow, and sludgy death-doom metal. On one hand, there are certain things that it fares well in, particularly the musicianship. While nothing too special for this genre, it is nonetheless performed solidly, starting with the vocals. They consist of brutal, low growls that really click in with the rest of the murky music. In regards to that, the guitars play a good amount of potent and destructive riffs. The percussion work is also done well, which sound resonant and a tad trashy, fitting well into the album's metallic battalion. As for the music itself, it also has some positive aspects to it. The most noteworthy of this is that the songs have a decent range of speed. Although they are mostly slow and brooding, there are a few instances of faster moments to keep a nice balance. In fact, the first two tracks of this album, "Here Comes Perdition" and "Hellbringer," are the best out of it, mainly for this reason, and they are the most engaging. 

Sadly, on the other hand, this record also has a number of scathing problems as well. Firstly, although the music itself is structured well without sounding choppy at the slightest, there is not much explosiveness or much memorability to it. In other words, it sounds more like background music than something truly powerful. This is due to the next problem with this album: The songs sound quite repetitive at times, to the point where they barely have much dynamic. They're really just brutal death-doom all the way through, and there is not enough buildup or climax to the majority of them, or at least they don't seem to, because of how dull they tend to be. On top of that, the third issue is that, especially in the second half of the album, the tracks sound a little too similar to each other. While there is nothing wrong with consistency, some songs sound somewhat congruent, causing the record to sound flat. Even though this album does succeed in certain areas, they don't succeed as well in others.

Considering all pros and cons, "The Fleshland" overall evens out to be rather in the middle. As many as the album has positive points in it, it does have as many shortcomings as well. In terms of the problems, the songs do tend to get monotonous, and are somewhat lacking in dynamic and engaging structure. However, on the bright side, the musicianship is great, the structures are steady, and the two tracks described earlier serve as the record's highlights. Overall, it's a rather average release. Although fans of slowly-paced and muddy mixes of death and doom metal might find something good or interesting here, there are plenty of better ones of the same caliber out there.  

Score: 5.5/10 (Average+)