I typically enjoy the albums I’m given to review. I’m given all sorts of rock albums and I like the different varieties I’ve come across, but rarely am I given that album at just makes me go “wow.” French hard rock band Flayed‘s album Symphony For The Flayed comes the closest I’ve heard all year to being that “wow” album.
Flayed’s grasp of classic blues rock only intensified with singing styles reminiscent of Philip Anselmo‘s vocal performance on Pantera‘s Cowboys From Hell (okay, maybe it’s not quite THAT good, but it’s my best comparison) the best way I can describe Flayed is by calling them a mixture of Monster Truck (whose album Furiosity is the album I called the best album of 2013) and Pantera.
The first notes of the first song, Sweet Coverage, are played on an organ (a Hammond by the sounds of it) immediately giving a classic rock feel. As the song gets into it, it doesn’t lose that old fashion feel, though there is an intensity that bands from the 70s wouldn’t have touched. This only intensifies with Old Manners, which picks up the pace completely to a fast hard rock boogie, completely turning things around from how Sweet Coverage started off Symphony For The Flayed.
There is a similar intensity as Old Manners on other songs on Symphony for the Flayed such as the track Son of Sickness. Flayed’s lead guitarist, whose name by my best research is Ju, has the abilities of the shredding guitarists from the past that I believe had an identity of their own due to their abilities to do more than just play fast notes with no real direction, which is uncommon lately. He plays an integral part in these faster paced songs. Son of Sickness may not hook me the way Old Manners does, but I still love its intensity, and I find the inclusion of the Super Mario Bros. theme in the guitar solo to be a funny addition. Never Unleash My Hand holds back its intensity just enough to let us appreciate its melodies, and as always on this Flayed album, the guitar work is kind of showy, but not too showy.
I hear a lot of Monster Truck in Don’t Cross My Property. The same grasp that Monster Truck has on classic rock music is present in this Flayed performance. It doesn’t have a modern taste to it as much as other songs on the album, save for its virtuosic guitar solo. Superhero has that hard rock boogie I like to it too (on my Monster Truck review, I used the term “boogie” a lot) which never fails to catch my attention, but it’s the title track Symphony for the Flayed that really catches me with its strong classic blues influence.
Other hard rockers on the album include Upside Down, which has one of the more memorable guitar riffs on the album which immediately makes it a standout track, and Machinefun which has a bit of an AC/DC sound to it from a musical perspective, which if you’ve read my past reviews, having an AC/DC sound is not a good thing. Luckily the song gets less bland as it continues, especially with the inclusion of that organ that I just love so much.
Free Mind makes for one hell of an album closer. At just over seven minutes, this slower paced blues track is where Flayed have clearly put all their heart and soul, making a song I didn’t know bands were still capable of making. There’s no better way of describing the song other than a blues song. It’s not heavy, it’s not hard, save for the vocals which maintain their intensity. Even the guitar playing is toned down a bit to match the bluesy feel of the song, summing up one hell of an interesting album if I do say so myself.
I feel I’m almost completely satisfied with Flayed and Symphony of the Flayed, and I continue to like it more the more I listen to it. I did a lot of comparing to Monster Truck, but really Flayed are their own band completely. They have a classic rock – often blues-based – influence to their sound, but the vocal intensity of a metal band, making for some of the most interesting sounding music I think I’ve ever received to review. Hardly two songs sound alike, and the musicianship of the band is nice and loose, giving the songs a jam feel, like anything could happen next, all while seeming to just fit in with each other practically perfectly. With the end of the year coming, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up as one of my top ten albums of 2014.
“Symphony For The Flayed” – There are a few moments on Symphony for the Flayed as an album when Flayed really show their blues prowess quite well, but no song surprises me the way the album’s title track does. It’s Texas blues inspired opening riff practically had my jaw dropped the first time I ever heard it. That alone of course is not why this is the highlight. As a whole song there is no shortage of the bands musical capabilities, from the rocking rhythm section to the sounds of that organ that I love so much.
I can only find live versions of the song to provide, but it’s the recorded version that I think captures all this best, so here is the full album. Symphony for the Flayed starts at 18:40 in.
9 (Out of 10)
|3||Don’t Cross My Property||Flayed||3:25|
|4||Son of Sickness||Flayed||3:38|
|6||Symphony for the Flayed||Flayed||5:02|
|7||Never Unleash My Hand||Flayed||3:53|