For many bands, the difference between their first and second albums can be a jump of almost cosmic immensity: how to capture the energy and enthusiasm of your debut opus while at the same time applying the lessons learned from the earlier process and using them to adapt/moderate/progress your sound as appropriate. The challenge can be made even more difficult whe, in the intervening period you have changed a key element of your sound… namely your vocalist!
In the case of Taunton-based Engraved Disillusion, such a change has brought an extremely and immediately noticeable difference – with the recruitment of Matthew Willam Mead (now, there’s good Cornish name if ever I heard one!) bringing clean vocals into the band’s musical mix for the first time. The result is an album that sits, sometimes uncomfortably, between the harshness of modern metalcore and the sweep of classic metal, with Mead’s vocals snapping between the two genres with the sharpness and precision of a whorehouse madam wielding a bullwhip, with elements of power and thrash also thrown in for good measure.
While sonically and musically the performances – and especially those of twin guitarists Toby Stewart and Marc Matthews – are solid, professional and earnest, the problem with both the album as a whole and the individual songs in their own right, is that it all becomes a bit “samey”. After the intense and hugely impressive barrage of lead single ‘Embrace The Flames’, it unfortunately becomes a case of “when am I going to here something different?”, as the tracks, in terms of pace especially, seem to more or less canter along at the same pace, with the same melodies thrown in in the same places, making it almost possible, by the time you have reached the halfway point, to pick out exactly where Mead’s growls are going to replaced by the more melodic end of his range, where the songs are going to slow down, where the breakdown is going to come in…
It isn’t until you reach the penultimate track, ‘Echoes From A Silent Sky’ – ironically, an instrumental – that you feel the musicians are stretching themselves and truly pouring their sweat and blood into their craft, while the epic, nine-minute closing title song is suitably sweeping and almost organic in its feel, fulfilling the initial promise and making you (almost) forget the mundanity of most of what has gone before.
Life Is… / Embrace The Flames / Lost / Curse The Sorrow / Shadows Run Black / No Tomorrow / Into Oblivion / In Aeternum / Echoes From A Silent Sky / The Eternal Rest
Recommended listening: Embrace The Flames
‘The Eternal Rest’ is out now.