Friday, April 17, 2015

Embrace of Thorns: "Darkness Impenetrable"

Any band with someone named Archfiend Devilpig is worth a listen in my book. The fact that they didn't come out the gate blasting won them a few more points that can be redeemed for valuable prizes once they reach the seventh level of hell.This was a big surprise and shows how you can never judge something by the initial impression you get from the press release, which was a black and white picture of these guys giving the claw, the horns and the kitchen sink. It's not really black metal at all, but good old school death metal that walked the evil line before any churches were burned in Norway.Bands like Acheron and Impaled Nazerene are both good frames of reference. They have all the elements in place to make some dark gritty and raw death metal, but after the initial smack of heaviness abates then I am wondering can these guys write songs. So here is another exploration to see if this is just smoke and blast beats or are these guys really musicians.

They do have a balance of crunch and speed. Their fast riffs have that savage old school Deicide quality to them. Not Atmospheric enough to be "Occult Death Metal" they do have some chants dribbled into some of the darker corners of their songs. The growls are also varied shades of a lower mid range. This is my second listen to this album. So the density of their sound isn't as impressive now that I know what to expect. The slower pace of the title track gives them a chance to infuse some melody and allow the guitarists to really shine their black light. Toward the end of this song things get a little murky before they slow it back down. Also when I here that a band is capable of more than mindlessly blasting forward, it sometimes feels like they are taking the easy way out when they return to it. "Erect Blood Stained Totems" fakes like it is going to be more deliberately paced and then they jack hammer you. Some of the thrashier riffs help give the songs more definition.

If you really need speed then songs like "At the Antipodes of Chastity" will provide the needed whiplash. The vocals here seems to be almost random barking. Once again when they slow it down to almost a doom pace the song congeals. "I Die Therefore I Exist" stomps in with an older classic metal feel, think Celtic Frost more than Diamond Head. This dies to the blast beats that once again exist. The final minute finds a good gallop. Then Charon takes a much faster ride across the river Styx than I have ever seen it depicted on "Charon's Ride Over Wasteland".  The lyrics are unintelligible.  I like the layered guitar when it slows down two minutes in. There are some triumphant moments for the pit that remind me a little of Altars of Madness era Morbid Angel.The album closes with one of the best songs that is also the shortest. I'll give this one a 7, but round it up if you like your death metal fast and to the point.

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