Straightforward thrash-death with some surprising moments

Flaming Wrekage formed in Sydney in 2010 before developing a widespread musical fanbase for their distinct blend of thrash and death metal (despite their deliberately misspelt name). The four-piece has since gone on to support globe-spanning bands  while building fanbases across Europe, Indonesia and Australia.

Released on February 25th after a plausible pandemic-based postponement, Cathedral Of Bones is the third Flaming Wrekage album in eight years, after 2013’s Catharsis and 2017’s From Flesh To Dust. 2019 marked a previous turning point for the group, and played multiple sold out shows on Aussie soil. Their new album consists of nine ferociously precise metal tracks that deliver plenty of mosh-worthy moments, ranging in their sonic savagery from the straightforward to the surprising. Grim socio-cultural and apocalyptic themes are explored in its lyrics, atop a seething barrage of heavy riffs, rolls, beats, and blasts. 

After a suspenseful intro, opening track Skeletons of Giants wastes no time in launching into a signature thrash sound from the group. Its musicality is refreshingly modern while suggesting influences from At The Gates and Entombed. When abrasive guttural shrieks enter the song, one is also reminded of the vocal sound of a band such as Revocation. This is before a barbaric blast beat section segues back into a halftime riff stomp, clearly designed to coax as much energy out of punters as possible, for live settings. The mindset of writing for the benefit of audience catharsis is a unifying theme for this album, lending to a listening experience that blurs into noisy monotony after one hears three or four tracks in a row. Hell, even their debut album’s title hints at the importance of audience enjoyment. These songs are best enjoyed in moderation. 

Nevertheless, the album’s vocals are surprisingly well enunciated and understandable for a death metal style of word slinging. The style assists in the delivery of some cryptic lyrical analysis on topics such as the herd mentality of fear and the mental complacency encouraged by religion. Cathedral Of Bones’ lyrics are delivered somewhat clearly, and with fierce passion, but most parts of its more understandable aural prose are far too cryptic or simple to be offering new social perspectives or personal introspection. Perhaps more meaning can be taken from reading these lyrics without distraction, rather than hearing them. In the case of many modern metal bands, vocals are therefore rendered as another instrument of texture.

 As Skeletons of Giants winds down, a slower breakdown section is heard before a tight, machine-gun ending into the dynamic drum roll opening of Leech, which maintains the thrash assault, blasts, and hard-moshing breakdowns. Some wildly soaring guitar solos are also heard throughout the album, such as at the end of Running Blind. These passages offer some melodic respite while not offering much diversity away from a realm of typical string shredding. Running Blind segues neatly into the grandly foreboding, slower intro of Altar of Lies, with plenty of halftime headbanging moments and a strong melodic guitar line at the very end, which sounds like it may have been backed by synth. 

After a doom-laden opening rhythm, The Voiceless switches into a gung-ho groove metal rhythm. Another section of elite blasting is heard before the opening riff is brought back again for the end chorus. Arriving three tracks before the end of the album,  Hell to Pay instantly serves neck-breaking thrash rage and violent rhythms to inject some fresh energy after the overly-similar structure of Straight for the Kill, and also delivers one of the album’s more memorable mottos: your future is in your hands. A few beautifully bleak descending chords are heard soon after, lending hints of cold black metal influences. 

After a smoothly-executed slowing down of tempo to segue from Hell to Pay, Cathedral Of Bones’ title track begins in a style similar to its opening number, loaded with brutal pauses before a momentary gap segueing into military-grade thrash. While the majority of the album’s pub-style thrash is slightly slower than the trademark pummelling of Sodom or Municipal Waste, including the performances on this track, Flaming Wrekage definitely compensate here with their grim blast sections and simplistic mosh savagery, as their title-track’s lyrics address the fate of someone “born into a dying world”. 

Briefly offering the only clean guitar to be heard in the album, closing track Sin Survives proceeds to grind on a steady flow of double kick and lengthened guitar chords reminiscent of a bridge in Trivium’s Kirisute Gomen, and once again plunges deep into a slower style of ‘pub thrash’ – a bit more fun and punky, considering the younger ages of all members, and the fact that this band grows largely from pub and bar gigs. All stops are pulled out in the closing of this album, as Sin Survives features a tidy combination of all of the album’s trademark songwriting: thrash, blasts, and polyrhythmic breakdowns, ending as cleanly and suddenly as the album began after nearly 50 minutes of similar savagery with a handful of surprising moments. 

Music aside, the sonic profile of this punchy, bright, and airtight record marks another achievement in engineering and production from Chris Themelco at Melbourne’s Monolith Studios. Fans and converts of Flaming Wrekage can abandon all self-consciousness to enter the musical maelstrom that is Cathedral Of Bones

  1. Skeletons of Giants
  2. Leech
  3. Running Blind
  4. Altar of Lies
  5. The Voiceless
  6. Straight for the Kill
  7. Hell to Pay
  8. Cathedral of Bones
  9. Sin Survives