Review: Engulfed – Engulfed In Obscurity
Finding it difficult to meet your daily demand for death metal? Struggling to fulfil your awesome art featuring gigantic birds of doom quota? Kill two KPIs with one album using Engulfed’s debut Engulfed In Obscurity.
Istanbul’s Engulfed first came to my attention through their intensely fierce EP from 2012 titled Through The Eternal Damnation, a rabid four song debut that kept me hungry for new material in a way that few releases can manage. So when news broke late last year that the band had finally recorded a full-length, I felt it was my duty to include them on the Get Prep’d: Mediterranean Madness post and alert as many people as possible. Some of you may already be familiar with the band names Diabolizer, Burial Invocation, and Decaying Purity from the Turkish death metal scene, all of whom Engulfed shares members with, but don’t worry if you’re not already on board, you’re in the right place, as Engulfed encompass the essential elements of all of those bands and crush them into one tight-as-fuck package.
Before we get to discussing the music, I’d like to just take a moment to again mention that fucking cover art. Yes, New Zealand artist Nick Keller is still on that big-bird tip, and yes, he’s still shitting on everything else from a great height. This time I think he’s even outdone the majestic piece adorning the Beastwars album from last year. Just lookit that shit right there!
Now it’s been a long time since their aforementioned EP was released (2012), so what’s changed for Engulfed? Perhaps the most noticeable change in the band’s style is that they’ve added a substantial number of slower sections to their songs. Whereas before they tended to exclusively opt for unrelenting aggression, the band now oscillate fairly frequently between spewing forth malefic burst riffing and ominous build-up passages that imbue their sound with an extra dynamic. While these tempo changes do allow the songs some chance to catch a breath or two in-between the bouts of strangulating chaos, I don’t find them to be as memorable a counterpoint as one would like these sorts of moments to be. It’s a tough call really, as without these slower sections the listener (and possibly the band themselves!) would almost certainly face exhaustion coping with constant shredding over the extended 45 minute run-time when compared with the 13 minute aural assault of the EP. However, the band definitely sound more at home when they’re ripping through the energetic tremolo savagery that initially made them so appealing. So, should bands like this stick to shorter releases in an attempt to maintain their ferocity, or take a risk and aim for a full-scale strike to increase their potential impact? A situation for which I’m not sure there is an unequivocal compromise.
Aside from maybe the title-track, there aren’t really any obvious choices for a stand-out song; all the tracks meld well together and exhibit a similar song-writing style. This is perhaps, for me, the defining attribute of the album. It’s unlikely any individual song will have you clamouring to hit replay immediately, but the quality is so consistent over all 9 tracks that you’ll certainly be ready to reload the whole thing and blast your face off again without a second thought. Engulfed In Obscurity may be somewhat lacking in those moments when some extraordinary riff instantly brands itself on your brain, or when some gripping tension is satisfyingly released, but in my experience, this can be a good sign the album will become a grower over time. Time it surely deserves.
Throughout the album the drumming is furious, offering no respite for the weary; and with essentially every track clocking in between 5 and 7 minutes long, it’s hard not to be impressed with the performance. Pounding double-bass, deft tempo shifts, and fluid tom rolls that echo across the soundscape, all combine to become one of the main highlights of the album. The guitars don’t offer much in the shape of leads, so you’ll have to rely on the riffs alone to procure that face-melting heat I know you’re after. Although, there are a couple of moments where the odd high-note pierces through the maelstrom and after copping a bit of angry bar vibrato is let ring for a few seconds, a final scream prior to trailing off back into purgatory. Working in tandem with the previously mentioned slower sections are several repeating lead motifs that add some much needed threat to the sluggish power chord stabs, in fact, the album is book-ended by a couple of these sorts of ideas, albeit with the rhythm guitars removed and some nice delay effects added. The production is a step up from the EP, and is certainly above what would normally be considered as serviceable for the genre. As I mentioned back in December, if you’re a fan of bands like Cruciamentum, Imprecation, and Dead Congregation, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. Engulfed have composed a solid debut that shows a band already eager to push themselves further into the fray, and compete with the stalwarts, even if it means going in slightly above their weight-division and taking a couple of hits along the way.
Engulfed In Obscurity Receives 3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Pick up Engulfed In Obscurity on CD through Hellthrasher Productions from March 10th or keep an eye on Blood Harvest Records for the LP in April/May 2017. You can also follow Engulfed on Facebook here to see their upcoming tour dates etc.