Monday, May 7, 2012

Enthrallment - People from the Lands of Vit (2012)

Though People from the Lands of Vit is my first encounter with brute Bulgarians Enthrallment, they've surely gotta be one of the heaviest bands from that country in memory, muscling the shit out of the material on this album as if they were spending an afternoon at the gym. Machine gun double bass rhythms, old school tremolo picked guitar lines, dissonance, over the top growling, spastic leads running all over the fretboard, ominous intensity that propagates itself through the incessant hostility. They throw so much sheer force at the listener that you feel a strain to remain standing in the face of it. That's not to say I found this effort entirely rewarding, but they certainly know how to leave an impression ON your cranium, if not inside it.

Certainly you've got a foundation of Morbid Angel (first three albums), with Deicide and Napalm Death in their formative death metal phases, but perhaps a better comparison would be to the Brazilian gutwrenchers Krisiun or the more belligerent batterings of Polish bands like Behemoth, Azarath and Vader. I really liked Plamen's vocals here, though he never does anything all that unique or varied he just smothers the music with this enormous guttural timbre that seems like it might wither flowers and deflesh puppies and children in a 60 yard radius. The solos are your normally scale-zipping and arpeggios, but they work within this niche for a reason: the frivolous and frenetic contrast they create against the cement-like undercurrent of the rhythm section. On a precision basis, Enthrallment certainly deliver the goods, and anyone who seeks out a pure neckbreaking, hyperactive experience within this field of slaughter will not come away disappointed. The caveat is that there's not much more to take out of it...

I hate repeating myself, and I know I've said it a thousand times before, but the fact is that Enthrallment just aren't bringing anything new to the table. Which would be perfectly acceptable if they were particularly strong in the songwriting department, but so many of the tunes on this album just blow by without insinuating themselves to my memory. The riffing patterns always feel familiar, chugging stop/starts interspersed with minor chords and speed picking, violent and machine-like drums. In small doses, this is a great way to build up a sweat, but in the long term it starts to feel monotonous, despite the level of punishment these five guys are beating straight into your face. Proof of this is when the one departure on the album, the dark industrial/symphonic track with deep horns and ritual war drums near the close of the album ("Punishment for Baneful") stands out like a sore thumb. It's only meant to serve as an evil, thematic interlude, but it makes the rest of the track list seem to blend together. I can only imagine if they had spread this atmosphere out through the entirety of the album, how devastating it might have proven.

Still, People from the Lads of Vit is entirely competent for what it is. The 32 minute play length ensures that one never quite becomes bored (similar to the old blast-fests that Krisiun would release), and they definitely churn out a few effective riffs in tunes like "Unholy Diviners" (my favorite here) and the Vader-like "A Full Land of Worms... From the River to the Void". The pure velocity and authenticity of the Bulgarians are not virtues anyone could question after hearing how hard they hammer away on this thing, but in the end it just seems like a workout. Dizzying and driven, but once you put the weights down it's time to move on. That said, if you've a thing for faster paced Nile, Krisiun, or last years well-received Azarath Blasphemer's Maledictions, then I believe you'll want to place this band on your radar, because they are demented-as-hell heavy.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

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