Engulfed – Engulfed in Obscurity

Engulfed in Obscurity is the debut album from longtime scene veterans Engulfed, all of whom have been in Engulfed and other bands for the long years leading up to this spectacular album. Massive and multifaceted, Engulfed take cues from Incantation and Dead Congregation to bring a long and harrowing death metal assault that stays as focused and punishing from the moment of conception until the very end. Massive tremolo picked rhythms play against quick melodic lines that sometimes harmonize with the rhythms and sometimes dart off to do their own things, and Diabolical Conquest-esque harmonized slower bits of trilling doom make for a good counterpart to the blazing tempos that the album sometimes reaches towards.

Though the album is fairly straightfoward in its style, the delivery is anything but, with the band doing their best to keep both guitars from playing the exact same notes for longer than a bar or two and with no riff being repeated more than a few times. Frequent tempo changes and jumps from melodicism to punishment are extremely compelling, and vocalist/bassist Serkan’s powerful howling adds an extra demonic flair to the mix. The drumming, though locked into a few similar patterns, changes up tempo and moves back and forth from pattern to pattern enough to keep from ever getting stale, driving everything forth wonderfully, and the drums are mixed excellently (save for perhaps a tiny bit of clickiness at points in the kick, which is a very minor issue on this album), which is always something that I listen to.

Overall, especially for a debut, I can only call this album a massive success, and say that I’m already looking forward to the EP that the band promises is coming next year.

Listen and buy (Hellthrasher Productions)

Listen and buy (Blood Harvest Records)

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Image source: Blood Harvest Records

Suffering Hour – In Passing Ascension

In Passing Ascension is an ode to the terrifying unhumanity of life, of the howling of the void, of the vast emptiness behind the veil of existence and of power of the infinite that looms above all of us. Sometimes technical, always strange, and coming from a diverse source of influences that intertwine gorgeously, Suffering Hour have created a sound that’s all their own. The band self describes their influences as ranging from Dead Congregation to The Chasm and Mgla, and you can really hear the sheer amount of things going into the album. With blistering leads soaring above slower sections of atmospheric dissonance, with each warped section providing not only a unique and memorable flavor but a fantastic listening experience for those lucky enough to have stumbled into the album, the music ebbs and flows through the forty minute duration of the album, never losing any of the power that In Passing Ascension immediately starts with.

The band refer to themselves as “cosmic blackened death metal” and that description makes sense even from the very beginning of the album. In Passing Ascension opens with a mixture of the various types of riffing and atmospheres that make up the release before launching into the album proper. Swirling and layered guitarwork, relentless drumming, and varied vocal styles showcase the band’s songwriting and technical ability, while frequent tempo changes keep any one song from becoming monotonous. Shifts in direction from ripping death metal to slower sections of slowly scraped eerie chords a la some of the more dissonant modern black metal bands keep the pace of the album from ever getting too familiar; intense attention is required to absorb the nuances of the music, lest the listener lose pace and get lost in the chasm that Suffering Hour creates with their music.

Moving past the songwriting, it’s important to note how great the production is; mastered by Resonance Sound Studio, the album is dynamic, massive, and clear without ever feeling overly clean, and each instrument is given its own space to breath and exist in a way that often gets lost with this sort of material. Guitar, drum, and bass tones are on point, as is the mixing of the drums (often a tough point for extreme metal bands).

This release has impressed me on every level, and I eagerly await my copy of it getting here on wax. I’ve been excited for this to come out since the first singles put out by Blood Harvest Records, and the album doesn’t disappoint.

Support and listen here.

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Review: Tomb Mold – Primordial Malignity

Tomb Mold has only existed for a year and has already quickly made a name for themselves as one of the better and one of the more unique modern death metal bands; exploding into creation with two demos last year and now an album this year. I became aware of them almost immediately after their first demo, The Bottomless Perdition, came out due to a Canadian acquaintance sending it over, and it totally blew me away; blisteringly raw and chaotic, it was fundamentally a tribute to the classic Finnish death metal scene that I love so much and it immediately marked Tomb Mold as a band to be watched.

They soon put out another absolutely killer demo, which contained the first version of one of the songs on the album and marked a step towards the sound that they’ve embraced for the album- more complex, a bit less raw, no less killer.

Then came Primordial Malignity, which blew away all of my already extremely high expectations and is currently my favorite album to have been released this year, as of the time of this review, and quickly over repeated plays coming to be an early call for a recent favorite in general. Gone are the caverns of screaming noise; instead, there’s an organic crush of decay, beating down listeners into the abyss. The music is as strange and harrowing as I was hoping, but Tomb Mold have developed far beyond the base (if fucking killer) Finnish worship of their early demo material into something that I didn’t foresee at all but am extremely pleased with. They have evolved to play a style of death metal that, while retaining the same Finnish influence, has integrated the band’s other influences and identities as musicians to become something all their own. Fast and bouncing leads, ghastly rhythms, and horrifying snarling vocals are complemented by fantastic drumming that drives everything forward splendidly. Whenever a riff is played enough to even hint at becoming overly familiar, not only does the riff change but often the tempo does as well, with rapidfire changes between the bizarre twangs of Tomb Mold’s leads and a few more straightforward sections keeping the entire album grounded. Brief solos pop in and out for just long enough to impress without ever being distracting at all, which is how I think that death metal solos should be- I’m a much bigger fan of the Disma approach towards soloing than the Malmsteen one (at least in my death metal), and the Disma approach towards soloing is the one that the album has taken.

Filthy, massive, and just long enough to feel like a proper album without staying on for a second longer than the band felt like it had to (just barely surpassing the half hour mark), Tomb Mold have written an album to be listened to again…and again….and again.

 

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Support and listen here.