Emblazoned – Eucharistiae Sacramentum (Deepsend Records)

Wednesday, 29th October 2014
Rating: 8/10

Emblazoned’s latest release finds its stylistic home somewhere between the drive of vintage death metal and the simplistic but none-more-aggressive approach of grind. However, the group largely avoids the common pitfalls of such an approach by wisely integrating fresh elements when the old formula begins to run dry. The end result is a release that, while not completely immune to said pitfalls, offers enough energy and well-timed variation for an invigorating listen.

When putting a premium on heaviness, speed, and all-around ferocity, it’s easy to forget that the sum total of incessant grind/death is sometimes quick listener exasperation, and it seems that Emblazoned is well on their way to falling into such a trap until the midpoint of “Fatherless Predecessor,” which takes on a distinctly more-atmospheric vibe and clues us in that more dynamic shifts are on the horizon. Consider this beside a prolonged and ever-shifting instrumental (a rarity in this style), “Iniquitous,” and the midtempo bruiser, “Perception,” whose crunchy guitar drive combined with Jeff Plewa’s guttural Mikael Åkerfeldt–style vocals echoes of Bloodbath, and the band doesn’t disappoint in respect to mixing up their song-by-song delivery.

The more-grindy numbers are effective as well but are ironically where the album’s weakest moments are. While these songs aren’t long by any means, they are lengthy by the standards of the grind style, the side effect being somewhat formulaic tracks with passages that overstay their welcome at times. The band’s stated black metal influence might be behind the repetitiveness here, as that style often uses repetition for atmosphere building, but the denser death-metal production style of Eucharistiae Sacramentum subverts any ethereal qualities and instead yields only redundancy in the recycled passages.

Such flaws are relatively minor and don’t significantly drag down the overall experience. Instead, Emblazoned’s latest testifies to a daring band who’s still striving toward its Elysium but is rapidly closing in. Bearing a unique blend of metal’s most extreme elements, Eucharistiae Sacramentum hits hard and is certainly worth a spin.

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