Elder siblings will be well acquainted with the copycat game. At first it’s somewhat endearing having someone following you around, imitating your every move and basically doing all they can within their power to become you. But as the months wear on, endearment turns to irritation, which turns to infuriation until the copycat game becomes more aggravating than being stuck in a lift with nothing but Miley Cyrus songs for company. Hunger for Flesh is that younger sibling, while the annoyed older brother is Cannibal Corpse’s The Bleeding, with Dying Fetus’ Purification Through Violence the bemused cousin who occasionally comes over to play.
A quick scan of the song titles will reveal exactly what we’re dealing with here – ‘Decapitation’, ‘Stab Her’, ‘Felching Pus’ and other such juvenile monikers that smack of misogyny; an attribute further evidenced through soundclips of women crying and inspired lyrics such as “suck your guts out of your backdoor”. It’s tiresome and offensive and reveals a primitive attitude. It’s exactly the kind of thing that gives metal such a bad name.
The music itself is similarly primitive, not Tormention repetitive (See what I did there? Boom boom!). There’s no question that these men know how to play their instruments, but their compositions are limp, unimaginative and bereft of dynamics. First song ‘Decapitation’ shows mild promise with its occasional flourishes of lead guitars, varied pacing and something that almost resembles a chorus, but second song ‘Crawling Through Bodies’ is much less inspired, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Eschewing lead guitars, it’s a flurry of dense, unrelenting rhythm. It’s as if the guitars and drums are racing to reach the end of the song and, with such displays of tedium, you can hardly blame them.
‘Hatred’ and ‘Hunger for Flesh’ both pass by in a mid-paced blur of monotony, both forgettable and unremarkable, before the album’s middle piece, ‘March of the Undead’ steps in to save it from utter failure. It’s comparatively interesting but, given the quality of the rest of the content on offer, that makes it just about as interesting as listening to your Gran tell you about her trip to the shops to buy some cockles. Featuring a short bass solo, actual riffs and a chorus that is, vocally, about as catchy as death metal gets, it at least displays some thought toward songwriting.
The rest of the album passes by in a tiresome haze, offering little to bat an eyelid at until the final song, ‘Felching Pus’ steps in. It is, it grieves me to say, the most compelling song on the album. Kicking off with a grinding riff that Dying Fetus would be jealous of before exploding into a cacophony of blistering fretwork, it demonstrates a series of dynamics that are missing elsewhere on the album. About halfway through the song the guitars step back to let a symphonic section add an aura of beauty, dragging the song toward far more epic terrains. The vocals also begin to vary in pitch, making them much easier and more interesting to listen to, even if the lyrics are ridiculous. Finally, the album closes with the twinkling of an acoustic guitar.
Hunger for Flesh could do with more songs like ‘Felching Pus’ (though, preferably with much less abhorable titles), but as it stands it’s little more than a lesson in tedium. It’s comparable to that younger sibling trying to play football after watching its older brother. No matter how hard it tries, that lack of experience, skill and coordination just can’t stop it from falling on its face every time it tries to kick the ball.