I’ve been very fortunate enough to have done these reviews for quite some time and, easily, one of my favorite things about doing them is discovering a band that only a relative handful of other people know and then enjoying it. Then seeing that band grow into whatever they please, and then have it be material that sticks with you for years and years is a treasure that I value so very much. I truly didn’t think that Flesh of the Stars would become a band whose new albums would become a priority for me to listen to when I first discovered them but four years ago, and yet, they’ve managed to stun me for a second time.
It was with the last Flesh of the Stars record, “Anhilla”, that really caught me off guard as it was a real change of pace for the band after their mildly disturbing debut. Their transition to a more doom-centric sound with prog elements was done with staggering grace as they showed aptitude that I never would’ve seen coming, and it’s because of that “Anhilla” is a constant appearance in my playlist. When thinking about what they’d do next, I truly didn’t want if they were gonna advance their sound they made with “Anhilla” or challenge themselves yet again with another change. It’s clear with “Mercy” that Flesh of the Stars opted to further the prowess they laid forth with “Anhilla”, and to say that they topped themselves would be putting it far too lightly.
“Mercy” retains the overall sound of its predecessor, but it’s through a much more solid understanding of their craft and a finely tuned sound that these five tracks bring forth ethereal soundscapes that doom doesn’t tend to be associated with too often, sadly. Flesh of the Stars doesn’t choose the easy way out by throwing in more riffs or making things more commercial, however. Instead, they still challenge themselves. Shit, the first track in all of its 22 minutes of beauty could stand on its own as a proud single-track EP, but it’s in conjunction with the rest of “Mercy” that this record becomes so much more. It becomes an experience that’s as introspective as it is gorgeous in its execution with the drawn-out riffs being played to magnificent effect, all of the vocals being absolutely exquisite that gives me slight pause every time I hear them, and a slow burner of a beat that’s all but wondrously satisfying. Every single aspect that’s poured into “Mercy” is done with meticulous purpose via utmost craftsmanship that even after listening to it for quite literally 12 hours at this point I’m still finding it difficult to even type these words.
It all comes together with such precision and expertise that you’d think Flesh of the Stars has been doing this for far longer than five years, and it’s all an absolute joy to experience from beginning to end. I never thought that they would somehow top the brilliance that is “Anhilla”, but that’s somehow exactly what’s been done with “Mercy” and it is easily Flesh of the Stars’ crowning achievement that they should be proud of for the rest of their lives. This is a special record that shows off an ingenious understanding of the style paired with an adventurous spirit that wants to explore new sounds and create its own identity. And it’s through that all that Flesh of the Stars has created another album that’s one of the best for its year and a listen that should not be passed lightly.
“Mercy” releases on June 21st!
LISTEN to an advanced track from “Mercy” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Flesh of the Stars on Facebook here.