Engel – Thernody (Season of Mist Records)Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Boasting such a fantastic lineup of musicians – all of which have made considerable impact on the Swedish metal scene with their former groups – you’d think that Engel would be flowing with creativity and result in a hell of a combination of talents. For those who listened to the first release, Absolute Design, my hearing feels your pain. It was a disjointed, boring and simplistic to a huge fault release that was a scream for mainstream recognition like this writer hasn’t seen in a while. Without a doubt being one of the biggest disappointments of 2007.
Engel have returned for their second go of it with Threnody. One can only hope for an improvement, however, expectation for this was – sadly – believably low. The first album was a pure dud, and with it in reference, the attitude coming into this review was to expect nothing and possibly be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, the mantra of “expect nothing” ended up being the reality of this record. Threnody offers more of the same, with the occasional glimmer of hope, but any of that is dashed robustly.
For being one that enjoys industrial to a high level, a good number of industrial metal bands are very appealing. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad out there too, and Engel’s attempts at this are not of the positive variety. We are, however, given a halfway decent opening number in “Six Feet Deep,” which combines some industrial-flavored keyboards with some decent melodic death metal riffage. It’s nothing overwhelming, mind you, but it isn’t bad either. Curse this song for creating a false feeling of prospect – a feeling that would soon be extinguished. The following track, “Sense the Fire,” goes for a modern alternative feel that falls flat quickly. Vocally it’s almost all chorus, and there’s no really interesting structures, riffs, anything. The nu-metal tendencies are obnoxiously loud and clear.
The third track, “For Those Who Will Resist,” begins with an extremely downtuned and listless riff, and goes, well, absolutely nowhere. Ditto with “Feed the Weak.” There’s nothing interesting, or at the least, mildly gratifying. My metal certainly doesn’t need to be complex for me to thoroughly enjoy it, but this is incoherent drivel. “To the End,” serving as Engel’s attempt at a full-on ballad, furthers this unfortunate reality. It doesn’t work, and isn’t constructed well at all. Songs like “Every Sin (Leaves A Mark),” and “Down,” offer up the occasional solid piece, however brief. Ultimately, inadequate song writing drags this album down, and subsequently awful pop and nu-metal tendencies ruin any enjoyable moments. The only other song that is worth a listen other than the opener is the title track, which has is highlighted by an incessantly sharp lead that drives the song to be a bit of veritable fun – as short-lived as it may be.
Unfortunately for Engel, two borderline good songs do not an album make. The rest of Threnody is poorly written and simply not anywhere near what musicians of this caliber can produce. At least Engelin’s Passenger project with Anders Frieden (In Flames) had some spunk to it to go along with its modern sensibilities. Engel is flat and uninteresting. The clean vocals are almost all pure – not to mention lifeless – hails to bad modern rock, while the growls are only occasionally worthwhile. The only complete positive mark that can be given is for the production, which is clean and crisp. At least the music is sonically ok, since the songs themselves don’t cut it.
Do not listen to this band based on what all of the members of it have done in the past. Many have made that mistake, and gone away bitterly disappointed. If you’re striving for the former glories of these musicians, best go back and pop in some Gardenian or Lord Belial. If the first release wasn’t your cup of tea,Threnody in no way will change your mind. If you consist of the few that enjoyed the first album, or really enjoy a band that aspires to sound like Linkin Park and that wonderfully “talented” bunch, this very well could be right up your alley. It’s still a crime that such capable musicians are putting out music like this. Time to cleanse myself with a spin of Soulburner.
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)