Welcome to the last of my July Marathon of WFAs! It’s been a fun month of getting to ramble on and on about artists I love, and I plan to do much more of it when and where I can! But, finishing off the fourth week of nonstop WFAs from yours, truly, I’ve got one more ace up my sleeve (or perhaps an ace up the sleeve of RVA, their hometown) for this week. We proudly welcome the chaotic metal riffers, fellow dwellers of my own home city, Flesh Machine, as this week’s ‘hey, you gotta listen to these guys’ point of discussion!
As the description of the band reads on their artist profile from the Fisher King Records site:
‘Formed from the ashes of the defunct band, Foresterr, Flesh Machine are a noise rock trio originally from New York, now based in Richmond, VA.
The band Released their debut EP Pray to the Hive (2022) consisting of six relentlessly crushing tracks that seamlessly blend together elements of extreme noise rock, metallic hardcore, and sludge to form a wall of sound much larger than three people should be capable of creating.’
While an adequately summarizing statement for the band, I’m happy to take things to a bit deeper of an examination of what makes Flesh Machine the powerful force of crushing riffs and mathcore insanity that they are. As told mostly from my personal perspective, the story of this band (for me) began when I first saw them in July of 2022. They had just released their EP, Pray to the Hive, and absolutely decimated the room, projecting a sound from only 3 members that equated to more like 5 or 6 members. Enough power to make the local electricity company jealous, Flesh Machine instantly won me and, I’d venture to say, most of that room over that night.
Even from studio recordings, it’s easy to hear what would put this band on the radar of fans who enjoy acts such as Jeromes Dream, Chat Pile, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Orchid, and others in the sporadic metal vein. Songs like “Mal”, “Mind Control Weapon”, and “Summoning Circle” possess a groove, yet timing intricacies that instantly take you back to the emoviolence greats of the ‘90s, on top of neck-break speed guitar dissonance and chromatic scaling that is second only to the punishing drum work paired with it. A solid 6-song work of art, this is only a relatively small taste of what the band has to offer as we await the release of new material, but are given plenty of nice glimpses from the copious live shows they play in and around Richmond, VA and elsewhere. This is, without a doubt, an absolutely working band.
Joining me as a very welcomed collaborator on this WFA, guitarist and vocalist Danny Meigel chimes in on the history of the band:
‘Flesh Machine as a project has been together since 2021. As a group of friends and musicians, we have been playing together since 2015. Geoff and I have been playing together since we were like 13-14 and Kevin joined us in our old band in 2015. For me, I can say that I first started playing guitar when I was 9 because I honestly wanted to be Kurt Cobain. What kept me in music was the way songwriting had a special power to me, allowing me to escape the problems I had with my home life as a child. I also became addicted to the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I wrote a song that I was proud of. My main influences genuinely change all the time. I love music history and try to learn all I can about it. I guess the most consistent influences I will always mark as pillars are: The Jesus Lizard, Jeromes Dream, The Stooges, King Crimson and Botch.‘
He also goes on to describe what the overall process of constructing Pray to the Hive looked like for the band. Despite the fluidity and overall cohesion I personally hear within the record, apparently its chaotic fringes captured in the form of audible embellishments and effects was not limited to its sound alone. As it were, the entire process of the record would entail the same level of chaos that the end result manifested in a much more fun, intended, and metal-music-fan-adoring context! Sometimes you have to really ‘go through it‘ when creating something that means a lot to you (and subsequently those who get to learn of it afterward) for it to get that real maker’s mark, if you will.
‘Pray to the Hive had, to say very little, a tumultuous pre-production period. The demoing phase ended up being expensive, rife with technical issues and taking way too long. Although it was frustrating, it allowed us to make some adjustments to the songs and cut the tracklist down to what we felt was the most cohesive batch of songs. We decided to do the final recordings with Ricky Olson at The Ward because we really liked his work and thought that he would be able to capture our vision. Overall, we are very proud of what we made. Pray to the Hive was really conceived to have a thematic feeling of anxiety and uneasiness throughout.‘
For being a band whose existence, at least as far as their current form is concerned, is relatively still fresh – Flesh Machine have already garnered wide appeal in the local RVA metal scene. While the market for working bands, and perhaps especially so within the metal genre in specific, is arguably quite oversaturated, building a name and setting apart from the herd within a niche scene such as RVA’s metal community can be fairly challenging, as one might guess. As welcome as metal fans are to fresh breaths of air, many prefer familiarity too, and then you get into territory where whatever distinct and unorthodox elements you may incorporate into your sound are either too strange or written off as ‘[band] worship‘ – it can all feel draining and limiting at times, especially when and where you intend to branch out of your local bubble, so to speak. This is no exclusive challenge to one or any pairing of music scenes, but anyone who has done any work in the RVA scene in particular knows it can be challenging to break the mold, regardless of how bright a shooting star you may be.
The above is not said to throw any shade on the RVA music scene or any others whatsoever, of course. A strong sense of community and support within RVA are among a myriad of factors that make so many artists within it (regardless of if they’re chart-toppers, DIY underground veterans, the weekend warrior bar band, or something in-between) super proud of where they come from. As such, among the eyes and ears that Flesh Machine have won over, is none other than Fisher King Records. An honest, hard-working label, Fisher King Records is likewise quickly gaining attention for giving a home to numerous honest, hard-working, up and coming names within the RVA scene and elsewhere – Flesh Machine being included!
‘Fisher King has been nothing but awesome, patient and generous with us. It was super fortunate that Joey heard and enjoyed our music. We are so grateful that he decided to put us on his label and help us out. They have really done the most for us and have helped us get on shows and taken us under their wing.‘
A band like Flesh Machine carries their chaos well within their music. As Danny points out when speaking more in-depth about what the band is all about, with their trademark ‘heavy riffs and feelings of hopelessness‘ and ‘cathartic release‘ mantra being perhaps a center point, the band seems to be a conversion equation, of sorts. A lot of what is penned down, strummed out, pounded upon a drum kit, or screamed into a microphone comes from a strongly personal place within each member’s life. As tumultuous, or at the very least arduous, as many things that happen to us in our daily lives can be – it would appear some of the most sincere, recognized, and quality artistic expressions manifest from either the energy harbored or direct response to these events. Flesh Machine may certainly not at all be the one and only sonic crafters to manipulate noises and soundtrack the insanity life can conjure within us, and convert it into something more palatable and therapeutic, but damn do they do it well – and with style!
‘I write songs to capture painful moments for external processing. I find it really healthy to encapsulate unwanted feelings through music and find some sort of closure with them. Even though the listener won’t know what I am writing about, I want to convey that feeling of a difficult emotion or trauma and hopefully connect with the listener to help them deal with it.‘
I had asked Danny about any wild show stories the band in its current form, or members individually, might have experienced. While Danny makes mention of there being a-plenty in the way of memorable, even if less-than-fortunate, show experiences, the one he describes comes from events that took place with a band before Flesh Machine. While this article, yes, is meant to cover Flesh Machine specifically, I found that Danny’s story made for an all-the-more detailed reflection of this ‘conversion equation‘ I coined the band to be in an earlier paragraph. Even as someone whose life seems to be enveloped with chaos, somehow Danny finds a way to make art out of it each and every time, or at the very least continues to keep pushing forward!
‘So we have honestly had a bunch of insane show experiences, but I really think the one experience that takes it is a tour Kevin, Geoff and I were on in our previous project that we had booked with a great band called Bloodlake. We had this sold out show planned in New York ( where we all used to live) and all of our friends were gonna come out to celebrate the start of the tour. I was really excited for it. As we were driving to NY from VA, I started to get this unbelievable stomach pain, and by the time we were close to NY it got so bad that I could barely see and I felt like I was going to pass out. Somehow I managed to drop Kevin and Geoff off and make it home for my mom to take me to the hospital, where I ended up being stuck getting tests run on me until 2 hours before the show. None of the doctors could figure out what was wrong. It was getting down to the wire, Geoff and Kevin were freaking out about me and the show, so I decided I was leaving to play our gig. The doctors tried to physically restrain me, but I was like ‘Get the fuck off me, I’m leaving‘. I join the guys, we’re getting ready to load in, and I get a phone call from the hospital telling me that I have a kink in my lower intestine and that I have to go back for emergency surgery or I am ‘going to die.’ Hell yeah. We proceeded to play the show and it was awesome, but I went back for surgery right after and ended up having to cancel two shows only to find out the doctors were wrong and there wasn’t a kink in my intestine. We finished out that tour, but I couldn’t really move or eat the whole time and I had to deal with the surgery wounds– It was super surreal and unforgettable, and the rest of the tour ended up being 2 of the best weeks of my life.‘
Needless to say, Flesh Machine have earned their stripes. Their name becomes all the more fitting especially upon learning of Danny’s experiences and just examining what their lyrical subject matter tends to reflect. What we lose, what we sacrifice, and what we give in order to survive and sometimes even get to write about it, laugh about it, go somewhere because of it, or (in this case) write super cool metal songs that make people want to fight each other after it – it all culminates into this sentient machine of sorts that, even if we do feel drained in any way by what we give to it, we know it is still ours. It is manifested after our own flesh and blood, and therefore an extension of us and will go on to immortalize us in that sense, as it creates a sense of relief, community, or catharsis to those who get to use it in other ways much more healing and sanitary.
That – my friends – is what true art is all about. That is the ‘conversion’ I’m talking about; Transforming negative into positive, and it’s all good. ‘And if you don’t know, now you know.‘ In the grander scheme of things, this is exactly what I think most people could agree metal music, in particular, is also all about. You could venture to apply this to practically any other genre, but metal has a true niche for its expressive qualities and what it does – even if to a more aggressive scale – for all involved.
I touched on this with Danny during the interview, mentioning that I examine metal music specifically to be of a ‘therapeutic‘ energy – a gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. I believe, as I’m sure many others do, that beyond even just a healthy outlet, it creates a sense of community, identity, and empowerment for those who otherwise may not be able to afford or find that in any other sense within their life. In much agreement, Danny expanded upon how it correlates largely to what Flesh Machine builds their music upon as well.
‘I think that your statement is exactly right. The people in heavy bands are some of the nicest people. As I stated earlier I think that cathartic release is real and healthy. It allows people to scream, release endorphins and get the tension out. Super important things that people maybe wouldn’t otherwise have a healthy outlet for.’
Flesh Machine are an already busy band only getting busier. Be sure to stay on the lookout for their new releases under Fisher King Records, stream and purchase Pray to the Hive via their Bandcamp, and keep up to date on all news and intel of the band’s ventures via their Instagram and Twitter! Those living in or anywhere near the Richmond, Virginia region will want to get out to their upcoming show at Cobra Cabana on August 3rd, featuring Housecore Music punk/metal champions, Child Bite, as well as fellow RVA noise rock heavy-hitters in Prayer Group. Danny also makes mention of releases cooking up in the Flesh Machine oven, soon to be freshly presented in the near-future…
‘Our next show is on August 3rd with Child Bite and Prayer Group at Cobra Cabana, we are really excited to play that. As for releases, we are working on a new record now, we have recorded most of the demos and are working the kinks out now. I have no idea when it will be finished though. I would have liked to have it out already, but hopefully it will be done before the end of the year.‘
Don’t sleep on Flesh Machine…
Flesh Machine is…
Kevin Sangalang – drums
Geoff Gader – bass
Danny Meigel – guitar and vocals