(We’ve been eagerly awaiting this album for almost one full year, and it’s now on the brink of release. Below, Andy Synn reviews the new work of Enshadowed from Greece — Magic Chaos Psychedelia.)
It always strikes me as funny that there’s such dissension and division between the Black Metal and Death Metal camps. Fans of Death Metal still dismiss Black Metal for not being “brutal” enough, and devotees of Black Metal dismiss Death Metal… simply because it’s NOT Black Metal. Confusingly, even Blackened Death Metal often seems to have its own specific fanbase, as if its parents are somehow ashamed of this bastard child of extremity.
Thankfully though, we have bands like Enshadowed. They aren’t “Blackened Death Metal” – the purest Black Metal fire runs through their veins – yet they somehow manage simultaneously to be both blacker than black, and deader than death. That’s one of the things that makes the band so interesting – without meaning to, they’ve become a chameleonic entity, one that appears different depending on where you’re looking from.
Take ominous opener “Stary Throne Of It”, all screeching, dissonant guitars and relentless, hammering drums. It’s blacker than obsidian, a contorted conundrum of shifting riff-work, with only the barest hints of melody. Then compare it to a track like “Black Holes, Death Planets”, which mixes the same elements in an entirely different way! More deathly in intent, its approach is more akin to a bulldozer than a blade. This simple, but effective, dichotomy underpins the whole album.
Structurally the record almost comes in thirds, the first addressing in microcosm the central tenets of the band’s blackened death magic. This is epitomised by “Is Venit Ex Abyssus”, a blazing flare of nuclear hellfire, whose venomous assault is broken up by moments of dark groove and staccato disharmony, intertwined with maddening strains of anti-melody.
The second of the album’s three chapters features material united by sheer, undiluted aggression, where inchoate melodies are strangled at birth and smothering by asphyxiating layers of berserk, blackened brutality.
The almost industrialised death metal sound of “The Scenario” (reminiscent of Zyklon or Myrkskog) is filtered through a pitch-black prism, resulting in a fractured, yet multi-faceted metallic bombardment. The vocals are delivered with an intensity you can feel in your bones, spitting volleys of scalding hatred, while the finale delivers an unexpected transformation into dream-like succubus melody.
The deranged-dissonance and broken boned rhythms of “Surrealistic Shade of Color Black” precede a ravenous rampage of skittering drum blasts and raw- nerve tremolo guitars, whose devastating, hypnotic repetition represents the band’s absolute, single-minded focus, which carries over into the angular, neck-snapping start of “Dethroned”, evolving into a series of goliath, pounding rhythms, and staggered eruptions of extremity.
The final three tracks of the album are the longest, and most ambitious, compositions – heavier in atmosphere and more complex in construction – which see the band pushing themselves harder than ever before.
“Inner Psy-Trip” forces a stream of wicked riffage down warped, labyrinthine twists and turns. Groaning, funereal doom sections and scraping, dissonant riffs add to the tense, nail-biting atmosphere of the track, blasting away with demoniac precision, building to an unsettling ambient finale and a fading piano refrain.
Claustrophobic and uncomfortable, the storm-cloud aura of “The Dual Hypostasis of Nihil” follows a more measured approach, focussing on lengthy passages of disturbing ambience, backed up by some priapic, blood-pumping riff work and unexpected explosions of thunderous excess, offset by the flirtatious pseudo-melodies and clever counterpoints provided by the album’s subtle and intelligent bass-work.
The finale of “Magic Chaos Psychedelia” is the album’s crippling black epitaph, the croaking, bile-spewing vocals reeling off a steady litany of ritualised torment, as the song’s tom-heavy drum pounding and clashing, echoing chords hang ominously in the ether, torturously waiting for the end to come.
It seems to me that although the band’s sound draws heaviest from The Swedish school of Black Metal (always the most death-injected form of the style) and the Polish school of Death Metal (often the blackest of the deathly arts), somewhere in the middle they have crafted a sound that marries key qualities of both, without being derivative or beholden to either.
How have they done this? By returning to their roots, and to the nexus point of their sound. They know, as so many have forgotten, that extreme metal shares a common genesis point, and only as it progressed did these strict genre boundaries start to direct and limit the stylistic expression of bands. Tearing down the established orthodoxy, to begin again anew, has allowed the band to craft their own blueprint, for their own sound, freed from these restraints.
Magic Chaos Psychedlia stands as proof that genre confines should never be as stark as we seem to make them, and that good songwriting (along with a lethal dose of unrepentant brutality) blurs the boundaries to a point of insignificance. It’s an album that could, with the right push, unite the still disparate camps of extreme fanatics into one unholy army.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Enshadowed’s first album in nine years, Magic Chaos Psychedelia will be released in North America on February 19 via Pulverized Records and on January 28 in Europe. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Devasoundz Studio by Septic Flesh drummer Fotis Bernado and Enshadowed.
The striking cover artwork, which we’ve raved about in the past, is by Greek artist Rea Pediaditaki, and the album includes additional paintings by Miguel Angel Castro Salinas. Below are two songs that have been released for streaming — “Inner Psy-Trip” and “Black Holes, Death Planets”.