Often the cover of an album will not prepare you for what's in store. This can be a positive when it represents the marriage of diverse aesthetics into a workable whole. Here, one could make out the interesting E-S cover rune and perhaps expect something of minimal import, i.e. martial ambient.
But such is not the case. Empty Shell is a young death metal outfit hailing from Elektrostal, Russia. Isn't that an excellent name for a city? I bet you wish YOU were from Elektrostal. I do. The production here is fantastic for a debut. All instrumentation is perfectly clear. The riffs cut and slice through the mix, the bass and leads are audible and tactful. The musicianship is more than adequate to fill out these nine compositions, which consist of groove oriented and oft semi-technical riffing. Performed live, these songs would be perfect for the standard windmill kicking martial mosh artist, yet never lacking in taste.
The downfall of the album is that so many of the riffs are mired in very slow-paced, familiar regions channeling everything from Slayer to Vader, that it never quite rose above the tide line of 'memorable'. Certainly, the album delivers a brick to the skull on each of its tracks, but none truly stand out with riffs that demand a replay. I can't say there is enough here that I'd re-visit, the album closer "Cutting Eyelids" was probably the most notable track. Again, the production on this album is fantastic; it will certainly appeal to fans of the Polish scene: i.e. Vader, Trauma, and other bands who compose digestible death metal, say Grave of Sweden. If you need groove with your growling, this has enough to sate the Hatebreed or Pantera fan's pit-lust. With a sprinkle of catchier bludgeoning, this is a band which could rise to prominence in the Russian death scene.
Verdict: Indifference [6/10] (but expect several hospital bills in the near future)