Some albums are heavy from the opening and Warbound by Broken Flesh fits well into that category. From the cover art alone, you can get a good sense of what is found inside. This is death metal in all its glory. The kind of music that makes small pets explode, turns heads whenever it’s played in public, and generally elicits strong reactions in listeners. There usually is no middle ground, you either like it or you don’t. Take a deep breath before you start this album as it is unrelenting in a heavy, pounding aural assault.
Broken Flesh formed in 2004 in Oklahoma City, OK and released the eight song album Forever in Flames in September 2009 and then followed that up with an ep, Stripped, Stabbed, and Crucified in 2012. As many bands have experienced lately, they have had various issues with labels and currently are unsigned. Along the way, Broken Flesh has played with some well-known bands in the genre and recently opened up for Six Feet Under, which certainly places them in the spotlight as typically they would be the only Christian band on the bill. My first experience hearing Broken Flesh was the Forever in Flames album, which is a bit different in terms of personnel compared to Warbound. At the time, Forever in Flames was heavy, unrelenting death metal with a strong Christian focus lyrically. If anything, the vocals on Forever in Flames were a bit less guttural and low compared to Warbound but overall the general approach and style of the music is similar between the two albums. I would say the similarities end there as Warbound has taken everything from their earlier releases and increased the focus and tenacity to a great extent.
Production quality, mixing, and mastering on Warbound is a great leap forward compared to Forever in Flames. Instruments are clear within the mix as are the vocals and they are at the right level as well, which is somewhat of an art in this genre. On top of that, there is a great low end to this release, one you can feel as the volume increases and it remains clear and not muddied as often happens.
Warbound starts off with “Acrid Stench” and a fast opening ominous-sounding lone guitar riff that is then joined by the rest of the band in a short almost call-response manner before the main verse starts with its blast beats and fast riffing. One thing I appreciate in their songs are the tempo changes similar to the one found in Acrid Stench. The fast riffing and blast beats sections are linked together with some heavy pounding sections of various tempos. The variety certainly keeps the listener off guard and adds a sense of anticipation to the experience. Vocals immediately struck me as they are very low and guttural for the most of the album although they are occasionally joined by some subdued black metal style vocals at times. Again, the variety keeps things interesting.
“Scorned” would have to be my favorite song on the album as it has everything I love about this genre. Fast opening drum section and then some ultra-fast blast beat drumming accompanied by a great guitar riff that eventually transitions into a great guitar solo by Steve Giddens and then slows into a slower chugging, pounding section. All the while Jacob Mathes is often in the very low and fast guttural vocals but at times slows things down to scream “My soul starts to burn”. Lyrically, the song vividly depicts an unrepentant sinner at the moment of death and entry into hell and rightly concludes with “Oh God why did I deny you” as the last words.
The title track “Warbound” starts out with a bass intro and a slow guitar riff both of which are leave the listener wondering when the transition to the blast beats and high speed parts of the song will begin. The unpredictability is a nice touch as it the presence of the bass guitar. Throughout the album, the contribution of the bass guitar can be heard again a testament to quality of the mix. “Warbound” also features an extended guitar solo by Steve Giddens that adds more layers to the overall sound. The first half of the songs features a somewhat slower riff but about the mid-point of the song, there is an abrupt transition into a very fast section with the guitar solo over the top and then the song reverts back to the main riff for the close. Vocally, this is one of the songs that also features the near black metal vocals alongside the death metal ones.
As a band, the performances on this album are great. Many bands in this genre end up with all their songs sounding the same by the time everything is put together, but that is not the case here, which makes this a good listen. Guitar riffs are fast and show good variety; the drumming shows great speed as one would expect in the genre, but also some great variety in fills, tempo changes, and double bass work; vocals are not simply all guttural death metal style and are delivered with a sense of strength; and even the bass guitar that is often largely absent from the mix in this genre contributes greatly to the overall sound.
1. Acrid Stench
2. Once Dead
6. Demon Seed
8. Kill Me Now
Kevin Tubby –Guitar and vocals
Brandon Lopez: Drums
Joshua Mathes: Bass and vocals
Jacob Mathes: Vocals
Record Label: Independent, May 2013
Stripped, Stabbed, And Crucified, EP 
Video below for “15:55”