Embrace Your Punishment – Made of Stone (Lacerated Enemy Records)

Monday, 27th November 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

The combination of styles across heavy platforms has opened diverse styles that gain traction in the modern scene. Taking on elements of brutal death metal with groovy, hardcore aspects is Embrace Your Punishment. Together since 2009, this French unit have released an EP and two albums, moving up to Czech label Lacerated Enemy Records for this latest platter Made of Stone. Grinding out two hundred plus gigs across Europe has sharpened the collective creative blade, weaving in a tight, focused sound across these twelve tracks that should pacify a lot of underground (to slightly above) extreme mavens.

Many artists who combine two or more subgenres in the metal/hardcore platform usually go for the low hanging fruit or clichés (breakdowns, pig squeals, chaotic/frantic guitar breaks, etc.) – and this is not the case for this quartet. The shifting of speeds, growl to screaming/hardcore fierce vocal presence, proper injection of groove/hook accents all work together as insurance that the atmosphere of every track becomes as distinctive as possible. When hitting high blasting death gears, there can be a brutal shift into Pro-Pain or Biohazard mid-tempo to slightly slower terrain in the next segment, or a transition where the guitars take over. Check out the moody monster “Oppression” or equally crossover appealing “Above Creation” to illustrate all the different weapons at play in the EYP playbook, the latter containing a quick hitting solo break that actually aligns with the musical momentum of the arrangement. Guests from Misery Index, Crowbar, and Benighted add their colors to the record – the first part of the title track featuring an intriguing back and forth to duet aggressive mashup between main singer Vivien and Kirk Windstein that coincides with the Crowbar-ish feel of this cut. The triplet shuffling aspect to “Minotaur’s Wrath” feels like a battering ram against your chest, while “Exterminate the Threat” is a quick hitting cut that once again alternates between frantic Napalm Death-ish grindcore and Obituary-like stomp death.

35 minutes later, Embrace Your Punishment doles out the successful measure of aural pleasure to those who love groovy death metal with hardcore accents while not even coming close to the ‘deathcore’ tag. Made of Stone has aspects that can slot easily into a collection of bands such as Frozen Soul or Creeping Death that are emerging younger upstarts that deliver quality records.

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