Thursday, August 11, 2011

Enshadowed - Intensity (2003)

After their debut Messengers of the Darkest Dawn came and went with little attention against the vast European landscape of samey sounding black metal artists, Greeks Enshadowed decided on a change-up to their approach. Not only by adding color to the cover art, but also morphing into an evenly distributed hybrid of the death and black metal genres. Intensity still features the band's penchant for blazing rhythms, blast beats and harsh snarling, but here they have measured it off against brutal semi-tech chug riffing and a prevalent guttural drawl. So, not only will you hear the influence of the usual suspects like Marduk, Emperor and Enthroned, but also a bluster of 21st century Polish death like Behemoth or Vader.

There's no denying that this makes for a more curious and compelling range of dynamics, but unfortunately there are very few memorable moments on the sophomore to capitalize on their newfound musical breadth. Each of the tracks here has at least one exciting sequence, like the Morbid Angel style lead explosion in "Mental Irruption" (around the 4 minute mark) or the brick hurling post-Slayer acceleration after the opening riff of "Obvious Inexistence". Or the writhing and crushing whirlwinds invoked in "Horrenda Nox" or "Purity's Failure". But, try as they might, I always had the feeling that they were right on the threshold of excellence, and never quite capable of following it through. They build these brisk, brutal passages and then never seem to engage in anything climactic to top them off.

It's not for lack of competence, for the drums and guitars are maniacal, and while they often tend towards monotony, the vocals are functional and the splitting of the black/death metal axis does serve to reduce any possible predictability. The production here is also monstrous, far cleaner than the debut album with a thick, plucking bass tone and polished guitars. Intensity might be the sort of thing you're chasing if you dig Polish bands like Behemoth or Hate, who have straddled both the black and death genres, 'blackened death metal' or whatever the shit people call it. It's a fairly unbridled display of force. And yet, there is so little to come back to here, as the concept of subtlety and truly memorable riffing seems to evade its grasp.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10] (my hate is contagious)

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