To try to sum up the music of Ensnared‘s new album Inimicus Generis Humani as “progressive death metal” or “avant-garde death metal” would probably send the wrong signals. It might make people underestimate how vicious, how emotionally disturbing, and how mentally mutilating the music often is. But it’s definitely something very different from the kinds of death metal you come across on the usual beaten paths. Perhaps “interdimensional death metal” would be closer to the mark for music of such predatory spirit and such evil alien allure.
Inimicus Generis Humani is this Swedish band’s frightful and fascinating second album, following 2017’s excellent Dysangelium. The same two labels that released that first record, Invictus Productions and Dark Descent Records, will be releasing this new one on February 14th. Not long to wait, to be sure, but you won’t have to wait a moment longer to listen to the album, because we’re bringing the full stream to you today.
It’s difficult to resist saying that this band will ensnare you in the traps they’ve set within Inimicus Generis Humani, especially because it’s true. It’s also difficult to resist commenting specifically about the particular fascinations and disturbances of each individual track, and I’ve decided that resistance would be futile. So, here we go (of course feel free to just skip down and hit the Play button.)
Album opener “Spiritual Necrosis” delivers murky and mauling riffage, twining and swarming around the propulsion of pummeling drums and punchy bass. It’s an increasingly twisted sensation, as frenzied leads flicker and flash in lunatic ecstasy, whipping around the vocalist’s bestial savagery and the changing forms of rhythmic obliteration. Things reach a fever pitch through a shrieking and dive-bombing solo, but the song remains a bewildering and blood-curdling spectacle even afterward, as the music’s atmosphere alternately becomes dismal and diseased, discordant and demented.
One thing is immediately clear from the opening track: Ensnared have become even more fiendishly inventive and impressively intricate in their compositions since Dysangelium, and even more adept at creating nightmarish atmosphere at the same time as they’re provoking reflexive physical responses and contorting your cranial neurons into unrecognizable shapes.
There are three Interludes on the album — not one of them a “throwaway”, and all of them serving important roles in contributing to the album’s cumulative effect when heard straight through. The first of those follows the album opener — and it is decidedly weird and morbid, hallucinatory as well as head-moving (the bass-and-drum combo in the song really will get your head lurching while the guitars are creating near-psychedelic sonic visions).
There’s a lurching quality to the mid-paced momentum and a rotten, morbid aroma in the buzzing chords of “The Throne of Transformation“, but it too twists and turns in ways that might play havoc with your inner ear. The dissonant music creates a queasy yet quarrelsome sensation, with rapidly flickering and weirdly harmonized leads that are viciously feral but deeply unsettling. The rhythm section jump around as much as the guitars, keeping the listener unbalanced, but also throwing grooves into the mix that are like slippery lifelines thrown to the mentally discombobulated.
The follow-on Interlude is almost playful, almost jazzy, but still decidedly alien in its fascinating permutations (there’s some distorted singing in this one, along with creepy wobbling and warping tones). But with “Disciples of the Whip“, Ensnared revert to the kind of full-throttle mayhem that was on display in the opening track, giving themselves over once again to head-spinning instrumental perversions and freaked-out soloing in combination with pulse-pounding (but highly unstable) rhythms and barbarically malicious vocals (with some tortured screaming at the end).
If you’re not looking forward to the third Interlude by now, having heard the first two, there’s something wrong with you. And the third one turns out to be just as enthralling and mystifying as the others. The slashed chords and mystically reverberating arpeggios seem to be coming from a dimension next door, and the drum and bass interplay, while subdued, creates a spell of its own.
With the last of the interludes sadly behind you (or so you might think), it will be time to run the gauntlet of the two closing tracks. There’s a skin-chilling level of rabid cruelty in the tremolo’d riffing that cuts through “Katharsis Through Terror” like a circle saw in a charnel house. The stench of rotting flesh comes through in the moaning chords, and the vocals, in combination with that, seem even more foul and fetid than before. Of course, the band continue to turn the tempos on a dime and to play tricks with your mind as they veer and vault through one unhinged manifestation of sound after another (but without un-doing the song’s maggot-dwelling atmosphere).
You might have thought you had sadly bidden farewell to the last of the interludes, but the first four minutes of “Black Hole Acolytes” are very much in keeping with the three interludes. It’s once again a mesmerizing but also eerie few minutes, maybe like lounge music being piped into your ears from Andromeda as you inhale hallucinogens from the hookah at your elbow — or is that suddenly a serpent’s head from which you’re trying to draw smoke?
But the band do eventually interrupt that uneasy narcotic reverie into which you’ve fallen, delivering malignant guitar swarming and lively rhythms that contrast with the sadistic and putrescent sensations of misery that flow from the fretwork. Like every song on the album, this final one doesn’t sound like anything that might blossom from a healthy mind — maybe closer to the imaginings spawned within an asylum for the criminally insane. Yet it’s nevertheless intensely involving — just like every other track to be found here.
The album was recorded at Black Path Studios and features artwork and layout courtesy of Heresie Graphics. You’ll find pre-order links below — and seriously, how could you not live without a copy of this marvelous monstrosity?