Japan is probably most known for technological advances and to a lesser extent weird cartoons, but what most people are unaware of is that The Land of the Rising Sun has been known to pump out an excellent Heavy Metal band from time to time. Such is the case with Coffins, a four-piece band known for their ability to seamlessly transition out of Death Metal and into groove-laden Doom Metal passages with crushing D-beat sections, often within the same song. The band’s Relapse Records debut ‘The Fleshland’ isn’t much different than the rest of the Coffins catalog, but that isn’t to say that this is a boring, run-of-the-mill album. In fact, ‘The Fleshland’ showcases the distinctive Coffins sound at its most refined and punishing.
The album starts with creepy, disembodied whispers and what sounds a bit like the groans of an awakening sea monster from centuries passed. From there, the opening riff of “Here Comes Perdition” bursts out of the speaker, immediately likening Coffins to a beefed-up Black Sabbath from another dimension, right before the band goes into a sludgy impression of Motorhead. The urge to turn the volume knob to the right and commence furiously head-banging is irresistible. If you’re not sold by this point, I don’t know what to tell you, other than avoid Heavy Metal altogether because it’s clearly not your thing.
The brutality continues into “Hellbringer” with a Punk-inspired riff punctuated by Geezer Butler-esque bass fills. The middle section features a mid-tempo, head-nodding riff that draws you in right before the track builds into a wall of sound in the final minute. The guttural vocals on display throughout the album are accented here by raspy background screams that add to the song’s overall intensity in a very effective manner. “The Colossal Hole” is Doom Metal at it’s most ferocious, but doesn’t sacrifice any groove. Songs like this are where Coffins really tend to shine, that is, if sludge could shine. Perhaps I should say “This is where Coffins really develop a sheen”?
Bad jokes aside, this album is completely unrelenting. When they’re playing fast, it’s incredibly heavy. When they slow down, it just gets heavier. “The Vacant Pale Vessel” chugs along with catchy guitar riffs in spades. Not catchy in the “smash hit single” kind of way, but in the way that you’ll find yourself humming these riffs when you’re making a sandwich or notice that they’re circling around on a loop in your head as you pump gas. Coffins have the rare talent of making a slow, plodding song last over six minutes and actually hold my attention for the duration. The power of the riff is undeniable.
“Dishuman” is a perfect blend of down-tuned Punk and Death Metal and honestly, how many bands do that? In the final minute of the song, they even manage to throw in a melodic guitar solo before bursting into a cacophonous crescendo. Seriously, this stuff is awesome. I certainly can’t expect the average Rock fan to get into something this unapologetically heavy, but to say that this is a “must listen” for any Death Metal fan would be a gross understatement. The album comes to a close with “Tormentopia,” which moves back and forth between sludgy yet melodic Death Metal and head-bobbing Doom riffs. Bluesy guitar solo? Absolutely. Coffins have outdone themselves with this release and with any luck, the exposure they’ll get from now being on one of the most well-known Heavy Metal labels will propel them into the upper echelon of Death Metal bands; right where they belong.