A lot of the talk around The Fading Flame, the first full-length from US death metal band Putrescine, has centred around the way it has drawn lyrical and thematic inspiration from the Dark Souls video game series. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people who like both death metal and Dark Souls are excited about the album, and understandably so. Previous Putrescine releases The One Reborn and Devourer of Gods were fine death metal records that pulled heavily from Morbid Angel, Carcass, and even shades of melo-death like At The Gates. The Fading Flame continues that trend, with the band presenting their most ambitious compositions to date. There are riffs aplenty, unsettling leads drawn right from the Trey Azagthoth school of writing, and an overall sense of a band striving (and succeeding!) to push themselves beyond their limits, technically and compositionally.
Before we go much further, it’s probably worth noting that the Dark Souls influence on the album is lost on me – which might mean that I’m missing some qualities of the album that others would pick up on. But what it does mean is that I’m assessing it devoid of any thematic preconceptions – after all, I’m sure there are plenty of people reading this who love Bolt Thrower’s Realm of Chaos but couldn’t care less about the Warhammer lore that inspired so many of the lyrics on it. As such, that the first half of the album – which draws most deeply from Dark Souls – succeeds in telling its story to me, despite the fact that I don’t know what it’s referencing, should be taken as a huge positive. That said, it’s the second half of the album which feels more emotionally impactful, especially the deeply personal ‘The Mountain’. It’s also fun to hear unambiguous lines like “History guide this hammer and sickle / To behead this beast of capital” (from closer ‘In a Setting Sun’) delivered with such conviction. And yes, this does mean that The Fading Flame is one of those rare death metal albums with largely legible lyrics, no matter whether screamed, snarled, or growled.
The Fading Flame is testament to the enduring vitality of death metal, and that there is still the potential to carve out your own niche within the well-populated genre without having to reinvent the metaphorical wheel. Even though the bands who have cast their influence upon Putrescine are very clear, Putrescine still manage to put across their own sense of personality and identity. There’s a lot of recent death metal releases attracting considerable attention, and it would be no surprise if Putrescine found themselves attracting a wider audience thanks to The Fading Flame. Put simply, they – and the album – deserve it.
The Fading Flame is out via Tridoid and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain