There’s something deeply satisfying about hearing a band hit their full potential, and Turkish malcontents Engulfed arrive gloriously at their peak on Vengeance Of The Fallen. Sharing members with the likes of the excellent Burial Invocation and Hyperdontia, the trio’s previous releases – the Through Eternal Damnation EP in 2012 and Engulfed In Obscurity full length in 2017 – were both fine, if perhaps unexciting works of modern death metal.
Straddling the line between American inspired clinical brutality and the darker feel of the European underground, often, if I’m being frank, feeling a bit like a low rent Dead Congregation. The feeling was that the machinery was there, but not quite firing on all cylinders compared to their collective other bands being a few leaps ahead. The four lengthy songs on Vengeance Of The Fallen however are proof that having revved up for over a decade, Engulfed now have ignition.
Boasting a crisper production and crunchier guitar tone than their 2017 album, Rites Abandoned Heretics introduces the modern day model of Engulfed as a leaner, meaner sounding version of themselves. They’re on fire from the opening riff with a melodic flair, hinting at the ghosts of Scandinavia without fully summoning them. While the band have never been ones to do anything other than cram all the riffs they can into a song, already the flow of the songwriting seems more coherent and cohesive. It feels like more effort has been putting into making the songs more memorable and the guitar lines less predictable. They twist, they turn, and they tear your head off in the process. And let’s be truthful, it’s already more memorable than some of their previous output after one song.
Their brutality now laced with an undercurrent of melancholy that seems more striking than before, the apocalyptic opening barrage that Summoning The Black Death rides in on signals an early peak, a deeply satisfying blast riff that’s the first domino in a chain. You realise during this song that sure, Engulfed are doing absolutely nothing that hasn’t been attempted before, but they’re doing it to the extent of their abilities, pushing both their compositional and probably physical limits in a quest for the unholy grail of death metal perfection. Summoning… achieves it, being not only the gem of the record, but probably the jewel in their crown full stop.
Their potential comes into its full rotten fruition on Vengeance Of The Fallen resulting in a vivid snapshot of a band at their prime…
At this point, half way through the ride, you kind of expect that they’ll take the pedal off the proverbial metal for a little and on Cycle Of Black Altar they do allow for a slower pace initially, but it’s not long before the turbines are whirling again. There are momentary dips into the funerary depths but it’s another satisfying round of riff Tetris. And final track Scorched is essentially a summary of all that’s come before, a final race to the finish line that adds some tasty and eerie guitar layering in its’ dying moments, as a final surprise.
The aftershock of it all? Two things are apparent once the smoke has cleared.
Firstly, Engulfed have not now, nor really have they ever, laid any false claim to being anything other than a pure death metal band. There are no ambitions to branch out musically at work here. But what this has done over time is force them to strive to play this music at the highest level they can. I’ve not got the calculator out or anything but the number of riffs on this thing is mindboggling. That’s nothing new. What’s impressive isthis time every one of those riffs is in the right place at the right time and while the songs can be a bit lengthy, they do feel remarkably well written. There’s no slack. No self indulgence.
Secondly, and this is related, it’s probably a back handed compliment but the truth is this Mini LP/EP/whatever format, seems to suit their modus operandi a great deal more than the full length album. It’s a more concise delivery system for music this dense, the mind not having the opportunity to wander when confronted with so many ideas in such a short time.
This is clearly the band’s most focussed statement of intent and therefore a great deal more engaging a listen than their precious material. Their potential comes into its full rotten fruition on Vengeance Of The Fallen resulting in a vivid snapshot of a band at their prime.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes