Set around a sentient and malefic being destined to destroy the universe with a rage fueled by prior suffering, this second act within the three-part trilogy further discusses the aforementioned supernatural sci-fi tale. Sounds like a death metal theme to me.
Engulf consists of lyricist, instrumentalist, and vocalist Hal Microutsicos, who has found recent recognition with his solo project. The metal enthusiast also acts as a member of Blasphemous and Chapel of Ruin, two other underground metal outfits. While the other groups certainly demonstrate promise, Hal’s solo project best serves as a platform for his creativity and musical capabilities. These strongsuits have earned Hal a spot on Everlasting Spew records, an Italy-based label which has furnished Engulf with the means to achieve widespread popularity within the scene.
Right off the bat, the EP’s strengths lie behind crafty and clever songwriting. The three-song release offers a trio of distinguished tracks that all exude this inherent musical capability of their creator. There are numerous sections of Gold and Rust which flow freely into one-another and work within the whole vibe of the release.
To describe his sound, Engulf’s music is best described as a more technical and less straightforward Skeletal Remains, almost to a fault. Hal’s vocal performances sound very similar to those of Chris Monroy, who sings for the band mentioned above. Furthermore, both groups lean towards the same style of production, which also contributes to their homogenous nature. The comparison and subsequent parallels are deeply unfortunate in terms of timing, as Skeletal Remains dropped a critically-acclaimed release earlier this year which put the group on everybody’s radar (including my own).
The good news is that Engulf’s described dissimilarities hold enough weight to distinguish the group. The percussion on Gold and Rust is fairly top-notch, and reveals some of the most proficient drumming ability I have seen. There are a healthy dose of blast beats and fast intricate fills to be found all around the 13-minute release. While the drumming is very much at the forefront in terms of technicality and skill, it refrains from harming the music’s flow as a result of the previously-mentioned songwriting. The percussion’s aggressive style is paired well with the winding and almost unpredictable nature of the guitars and vocals. The constant bombardment keeps you on your toes and contributes to the feeling of the controlled and almost mathematically-precise absurdity on Gold and Rust. Check out the drumming on the intro to this concluding track:
While the percussion is overtly praised, its sole weakness lies behind the lack of featured variation and subsequent feeling of monotony. Even through the drumming is shaken-up by a selection of different fills and time signature changes, the constant presence of speed and precision detracts from the desired goal of this barrage style. The oversaturation of blast beats and fast fills creates this illusion that the drummer is this four-armed monster flinging his arms around like an octopus, which is awesome, but I’d like to see him slow down a bit to really emphasize those blistering sections. The blast beat is the epitome of metal – it represent speed, heaviness, and overt technical ability. However, when this technique is overused, it ends up detracting from that heavy feeling, because everything is heavy. If the drummer gave his role more variation, especially in terms of tempo changes, those sections where he absolutely lets loose will crush even more. This is especially considering Hal’s demonstrated songwriting ability; some segments on Gold and Rust are already unrelentingly heavy as a result of the music’s unpredictable twists and turns, but they would really be turned up a notch if there was some more variation within the drumming.
While the former seems to be littered with negative citations, the statements above are best described as me nitpicking about an excellent release. Although Gold and Rust can be improved with an increased sense of variation within the drumming, its other aspects all hold their own. I quite enjoy the tale that Hal is describing through his music, and I’m looking forward to the trilogy’s conclusion with the upcoming finale EP.