Long Island’s Flesh Prison is a band about candor and intensity. The band was the result of a bit of restructuring after Copsucker, one of their previous incarnations, was put to bed. Michael and Natalie, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, wanted to keep their focus on writing and creating hardcore music. But, according to Michael, they needed a new beginning. “Natalie and I decided that maybe a ‘rebranding’ would help us gain our interest in the band back, so we asked our buddy Tambo that usually filled in on bass for shows to play with us full time, became a 4 piece, and renamed the band Flesh Prison.
Natalie always had that name in her back pocket and the novelty of Copsucker grew stale with me even though plenty of people have expressed their preference for the name. So we were excited for a fresh start,” offers Michael. And with that fresh start, comes Flesh Prison’s first proper recording. They just released a blistering three-song demo, introducing the hardcore underground to their intense and brooding sound.
The recording itself is brimming with a darkness that is somewhat beyond the typical for a hardcore band. Flesh Prison’s sound is certainly an interesting hybrid, drawing from elements of early '80s hardcore punk and far gloomier metal influences. In so doing, they’ve begun to carve out a space for themselves in the genre.
For Michael it’s about a wide palette of influences, commenting, “We all come from a punk, hardcore, heavy metal background. We all enjoy all types of music but with Flesh Prison bands like Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Crowbar, Cursed, and Helmet influenced us immensely.”
Those collective sounds vibrate throughout their demo too. “Abducted,” the demo’s first song opens with a melancholy guitar riff that pounds into a grooving but equally dark verse, complemented by crashing cymbals and a faster-paced chorus. The fuzz of the guitar and bass only serve to reinforce the melting together of these influences.
Vocally, the band is seated more clearly in the hardcore sound than the discordant metal end of their influences. Natalie brings a guttural scream that veers between short monosyllabic deliveries and more drawled cadences. She says, “My biggest vocal influence is definitely Frank Iero from Leathermouth. Michael showed Leathermouth to me before we started playing music, and I was immediately blown away by the vocals. When we began writing heavy music, I had no actual experience with screaming, but I knew I wanted that same guttural, raw power that Frank brought to Leathermouth.”
That guttural style shines through on “Look at This Mess,” the demo’s second track. Natalie’s staccato delivery elevates the song’s already dark grooving riffs. Interestingly, the song itself has some grungy sensibilities, especially in the chorus, that complement the vocal style really well. The songs blasts through in just over a minute and half, but it packs a punch.
Between the three songs offered on this demo, Flesh Prison offer up a clear sonic image of who they are as a band. Their grittiness, their rawness, and their comfortability with the discordant shine through on all three tracks. The lyrics reflect those elements as well. “I usually end up pulling song topics from dark places, dealing with stuff like my own personal life experiences, bad dreams, or the state of our country. ‘After Dark’ is about a terrifying series of sleep paralysis incidents, and ‘Look at This Mess’ is about domestic violence ripping apart a home. So usually it’s pretty heavy stuff that I write about, but then sometimes I'll just hear a sweet riff and think of some kind of badass alien horror movie scene and end up with a song like ‘Abducted’,” offers Natalie.
As for the music, Michael thinks in somewhat more direct terms, saying simply, “I just play what I like.” And what Flesh Prison is playing has potential. While they aren’t crafted music that has mountainous layers of subtlety, they are creating aggressive and enthusiastic songs that have appeal. It’ll be interesting to see how their sound develops in subsequent releases.