Hailing from Turku, Finland, Flagg is a black metal duo with an old-school sound. Forming just a couple of years ago, vocalist Tyrant and multi-instrumentalist Tyrant have just put out their debut full-length, Nothing but Death, a love letter to the early Nineties black metal, going back to the raw, underproduced festering darkness that launched a revolution in extreme music. Some bands choose to go over the top in their execution, but this gruesome twosome from Turku goes back to the genre’s roots to great success.
The old-school flare is there from moment one to moment done. “Destroy, Desecrate” is a battering ram of an opener, with plenty of machine gun kicks thrown in, even if they’re a little far back in the mix for my taste. It’s raw, unfiltered brutality that bleeds into the title track. The second section of said track takes a more fist-pumping approach, with the keys coming through the mix more so than they have thus far. The primordial “Dark Clouds Gathering” takes a doomier, slower approach, trading in blast beats for a slow death, complete with pervasive tremolo picking.
“Burning Sky” goes back to basics, with all of the trademarks of classic kvlt black metal. The lead guitar’s tremolo picking is far more prominent on “Abomination,” though it doesn’t take away from this strong offering. Just when you think that you know what you’ve gotten yourself into, though, “Apex Predator” busts the door down with ungodly speed and shock value. It was a pleasant surprise, keeping me on my toes after building up expectations for this long.
The fundamentals come back to form on “Sixth Sun Salvation,” while “Last Breath Drawn” changes tempos on a dime. It changes things up on a moment’s notice, with the drums in particular standing out. Finally, the epic closer “Towards Emptiness” brings it all together, feeling like a proper summation of everything that has made this album interesting.
With this record, Flagg prove that if something isn’t broken, we don’t need to fix it, but instead set fire to it and craft something more fitting of the traditions in its place. Whether with blistering, violent tracks or slower, methodical slabs of darkness, it’s just nice to see a newer act get old black metal right, without forcing it or overdoing it. Old school is still cool, even to the point where the new kids on the block are still treating it like it’s 1993 or so, and I’m here for it.
Nothing but Death is available now via Purity Through Fire.