Embryo – A Vivid Shade on Misery (Rockshots Records)

Friday, 17th March 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

You can always get a leg up on the competition if you have elite musicians even in guest spots. Case in point – Italian melodic death metal band Embryo, who recruited Nile drummer George Kollias for this fifth studio platter A Vivid Shade on Misery. Another conceptual record based on Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi alias Caravaggio – the listeners can expect eight songs that traverse modern sonic arrangements while still containing musical landscapes that are heavy, hook-laden, and vast in diversity. Will this fifth record on a fifth record label finally allow the band to gain a bit more traction in the scene?

The rhythm guitar layers plus embellishing melodies from Eugenio Sambasile along with the pulsating keyboard lines courtesy of Simone Solla drive the main riffs/transitions that give “Darkest Light” and “Medusa” prominent instant appeal, where George can flex his precise fills and accurate double kick snare abilities to the hilt. The chugging/groovy meets intricate nature to a lot of this material can have listeners thinking back and forth to the heydays of mid-1990’s Strapping Young Lad or Fear Factory next to the Scandinavian scene of early In Flames, Dark Tranquillity – plus a splash of latter-day Death for good measure. Stunted, staccato-like measures during “Highest Fame” allow the massive growls and savage roars of vocalist Roberto Pasolini to shine – as he injects interesting lower register whispers/screams for the opening/concluding verses of “Vanitas” that inject chill bumps. The record ends on the energetic adrenaline-fueled “Concrete Visionary”, a quick hitting pounder chock-full of those melodic death power riffs, bludgeoning rhythm section mechanics, as well as pit-moving transitions with key ivory tinkling to keep things slightly in the Soilwork vein.

Surprisingly short at a thirty-three minute, ten seconds playback time for a record especially considering the six-year break between studio albums (although this probably has more to do with budget limitations when you have a top-tier guest like George for the full recording), Embryo possesses strong melodic death abilities along with that sense of modern groove drive to position A Vivid Shade on Misery into another impressive effort for this style.

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