Nucleus is an album that, by all accounts, should not have happened. Not only has it been seven years since Deeds of Flesh put out any new music, it’s also been two years since the tragic passing of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter and Unique Leader founder Erik Lindmark. His legacy is gigantic, and his mark on the extreme metal scene cannot be calculated, and to try to put together an album without him would take an army of talent. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened when the band teamed up with friends old and new for a fitting tribute to a fallen brother.
The ideas behind Nucleus had been written, recorded and partially mixed for over four years before the album’s actual release, and represent the last music Lindmark wrote with his bandmates before he passed away after a battle with sclerosis in 2018. With his passing, the future of the band seemed up in the air, but the remaining trio of bassist Ivan Munguia, guitarist Craig Peters and drummer Darren Cesca were determined to see the recording through as a tribute to their friend and bandmate. Their cause even brought a couple of old pals out of retirement to help see it to the finish line. Former drummer Mike Hamilton and former vocalist Jacoby Kingston both teamed back up with the band to finish lyrics and vocal lines, and in Kingston’s case actually provide vocals on the album. Nucleus finishes off a trilogy of concept albums, conceived by Lindmark, that began with 2008’s Of What’s to Come and continued through 2013’s Portals to Canaan, the last release from the band. Hamilton and Kingston worked together to finish the story and arrange vocals, which Kingston handled along with a gargantuan host of A-list guests, including but not limited to Luc Lemay (Gorguts), John Gallagher (Dying Fetus), Corpsegrinder (Cannibal Corpse), Frank Mullen (Suffocation) and Bill Robinson (Decrepit Birth). It is truly a testament to the impact Lindmark and Deeds have had on the metal community that so many people would step up to the plate to pay tribute.
Musically, Nucleus is a wonderful mix of the old-school, slam and riff heavy Deeds mixed with the technical flash and flair that they became renowned for. Peters handles the guitar beautifully, and his technical prowess should not be underappreciated. On Nucleus, he’s more than capable of handling his parts and the parts that Lindmark wrote, and doing everything justice. “Alyen Scourge” and “Ethereal Ancestors” both highlight just how insane the riffs on this album are. The former, in particular, does an awesome job of capturing the classic Deeds vibe, while also showing that the band is still in top form. Munguia as well shows off some of the classic tech-death bass sounds with wild tapping runs and finger-shredding blazes across the fretboard, especially on the title track and “Races Conjoined.” Kingston’s vocals are a welcome sound to longtime fans of the band, and his presence is still as monstrous as it was before. While there are plenty of distinct voices pitching in to make this album spectacular, there’s something especially touching about Kingston and Hamilton taking time out of their life to bring a fitting end to what Lindmark started. It adds an unexpected amount of emotional depth to Nucleus, which almost stands in stark contrast to the setting of a brutal alien invasion and the decimation of life on Earth set to big-body riffs and blistering solos.
It’s really hard to say what’s next for Deeds of Flesh. While Nucleus is, lyrically and emotionally, the end of a very large and important chapter, the band have also lit a fire under themselves that should not be squandered. Nucleus represents the culmination of Lindmark’s recorded material with the band, and while there is an air of sadness in that, it would also be a shame to let his legacy simply end here. Far be it from me to tell actual giants what to do, but here’s hoping that Deeds of Flesh will continue on. They certainly are not lacking in chops or ability, and it’s very clear that their dedication and tenacity will take them wherever they want to go now. Regardless, Nucleus will be an album that will continue to inspire in the extreme metal scene, just as all their albums have. Lindmark would be very proud.