Notwithstanding their British origins, the five stalwarts have formed a band with a clear Swedish death direction, which they interpret pretty well, although not excessively originally.
After the release of an EP in 2009, showing the lessons in music learned with their previous musical experiences, the UK villains have gathered a respectable fan base that they're trying to make loyal through their first full length, a collection of 10 tracks dealing with the following themes: fight for life against those attempting to hinder us somehow, end of existence, the forgotten's feelings and destiny, despair, memories, blood-red skies and solitude.
After a blood-chilling intro, "Wither away", "As Life Fades" immediately displays what the record's about: Swedish death metal with a few melodic structures, as well as Metalcore breakdowns, in order to entice not exclusively fans of Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates, or In Flames and contemporarily fusing the diverse influences that each of the 5 musicians possesses. It has to be said there's fairly elaborated riffing, able to donate a sense of effeiciency and freshness to the songwriting. The end of the album, as granitic as an Alpine mountain peak, just shows no mercy to the domestic/live audience.
With "The Forgotten" vocalist Chris Pugsley takes out all his array and there're often two layers of vocals to enhance the effect, but the surprise comes from the 3 guitar solos in a row in the middle of the composition; what is particular is that their solos are deeply rooted in Classic metal and therefore are based on relative slowness, where every note has a strong meaning and all nuances are important, and this happens with all of the other solos on this record and is valid for both of the guitarists.
Probably my favourite, "Fragments of A Memory" has a killer opening riff, and other dynamic, powerful and catchy ones; the refrain is groovy, while the guitars are palm muted in order for a more crushing result; the drums sound like a tank and on certain occasions explode with a wall-demolishing intent.
It's nice to enjoy the several rhythm changes in "Disengage" realized in a smooth way, even though this song needs more than a couple of listens to be assimilated and fully appreciated. In this songs you'll also meet some riffs in the beginning that have nothing to share with Death or Metalcore and this is a plus to the guitar players' performance evaluation. An energetic track containing the few seconds of guttural vocals of the whole album together with lots of other surprises.
More or less kicking off the second side of the Brit's debut, "Epitaph" is an instrumental with all the characteristics to remain impressed in our minds: soulful, elegant, and shiny. On the other hand, the title track is a long piece opened by each of the members' most violent approach. Fantastic is the work of the guitars and the drums in the breaks. Here the riffs and the drums are decidedly Thrash metal, but the vocals keep standing faithful to the Swedish death canons. The finalé obliterates any resistance and is closer to bands such as The Rotted.
Time for "Under Blood Red Skies" and its bludgeoning Metalcore stopped passages, double bass runs and para-Black metal vocals; the contrast with the melodic solo is once again strong and repeated.
Easily structured, "Unhallowed Eyes" is so heavily akin to Kataklysm's headbanging mid-tempo riffs until the stuff turns Swedish death and modern Death. Simply astonishing is the guitar solo where the crying strings give the instrument special depth.
Finally, "Solitude" is melodic Swedish death containing a strongly futuristic Black metal intervention, although most of the song is related to the heroes of the Swedish metal scene from the 90s to date. Quite unusually, Toby Stewart, the man responsible for the majority of axe solos here, offers one solo next to the end of the composition that seems to be perfect to be faded out, but the unexpected main riff reprisal is what brings us to the end of the sonic hostilities.
The round assuming sounds wash over the listener with the only exception of the bass lines often buried in the mixing as trend dictates nowadays unfortunately, while still retaining the sharp attack of each note, preventing Engraved Disillusion's masterpiece from becoming a boring, anticlimatic wall of fuzz. Definitely one of the UK's new extreme metal leading forces.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - Jan 30, 2012