January 2nd, 2012
Release length: 1:07:44
In similar fashion to their debut full-length, the audio here is what you would expect of a Death Metal group. The guitar has a sharper tone to them one might expect from a groove-filled Swedish Death Metal act, but the overall atmosphere they give off in their presence against the much louder and clearly more dominating bass presence feels burdening and rich of despair. The guttural vocals captured this well with the deeper, snarling performance that feels spot-on with the gloomy environment of the album, and the hard-hitting music that comes from the aforementioned instruments. The drumming here fills up the rest of the release nicely, sharing a more pivotal volume level with the bass guitar. Each part of the kit comes through nicely, especially the deep, clickless thuds of the kicks that further push the hopeless tone of the release while the higher snares and well-leveled cymbals fill the gaps nicely to enrich the sound of the album. The higher production value really helps to capture all of this is the best way possible, giving the music an accent of Doom Metal heaviness to the already blunt music.
But, even with the crushing audio quality of Encirclement, it’s easy enough to fear what lies ahead considering the length of the recording. Unlike the previous effort there are ten songs, finding the band shortening the music for a few entries, but that ends up working in the band’s favor, as there are times where the music feels like it may start to grow old, but instead of having it trudge on, the band ends it on a bit of a high note. Plus, there are times where these shorter songs just end up being introductions to the following track anyhow. “Initiation” introduces this concept through some slower paced, yet very blunt music that sets up the dismal tone of the album well, and even shows a little more technical guitar work then you might find in other songs. As the song approaches its end, “Operation Citadel” slams in and interrupts what could be a nice instrumental piece, tying the two together well to maintain the same rhythm and pace after a bit of a faster start, and highlighting some strong Death Metal with a great rhythm that will have you taking notice right away if you haven’t already from the previous track. The varying vocals add an additional haunting tone to this track, supplementing the gutturals with a more inhuman wail, but not the higher rasp approach that contrasts these Death Metal vocals like many Goregrind or modern Melodic Death Metal acts have been incorporating.
But, despite the many longer tracks here, that’s not all this album is limited to. Decaying bring in more of a straight-forward Death Metal sound that blends the old-school approach with a sound commonly associated with the Finnish bands that have stormed out from that country lately. The faster pace of “Artillery Barrage” feels rather abusive while fueling a modern aggression with a hint of two-step early Death Metal acts like Possessed would churn out. The additional vocals come back here as well and become more of a staple to the sound then on “Operation Citadel,” and have more of that rasp to it that’s common to today, but in a more sickly manner then a traditional high snarl as inferred to earlier. This works for the song, and does add a little more variety to the release, showing that the group is not just about cold and burdening Death Metal. That additional vocal style seems to be carried over to “Battle of the Somme” as well, giving the track a bit of a sickening twist there amid the faster material in a modern sense. The traditional guttural vocals do apply here, but just not as much.
But, while those shorter and faster tracks sound great, oddly enough it’s the longer tracks on this release that really stand out the most, and it seems that the longer they are, the better they end up being. “From the Cradle to the Grave” throws a great deal of variety at you while staying rather consistent to the general pace of the song. There are times, such as during the guitar solo, where the music will drop a little more dramatically in speed, but the solo is impressive enough that it still works with the flow of the song. There isn’t a moment in this track that you’ll feel bored or not want to bang your head along to rhythm of the track, and the dirty, sickening growling screams reappear here again from “Operation Citadel,” but feel a lot stronger in the long run and suit that slower pace. “Conclusion” is another one that is worth noting for pretty much the same reasons, but there’s also a bit more of a commanding tone to the track, and some varying moments that feel more like you’re marching to your death with Decaying being the ones leading you there. The grim tone and even deeper vocals really make this song feel a little epic as well compared to previous tracks, and solidifies the fact that this group seems to work better with no time restraints in place. Even the long-winded “The Rising Sun,” which clocks in at nearly ten and a half minutes, manages to hold up nicely. Granted this song doesn’t really offer anything too unique or fresh that the rest of the release hasn’t already managed to do, but the dismal tone is here and feels a lot stricter in that sense, but not one hundred percent from start to finish since it feels this way more in the verses and chorus than anywhere else. This one also has a lot more focused on a modern interpretation similar to Swedish or Finnish Death Metal, utilizing simpler riffs to really cast a beat that is easy to get into, but never really seems to take a lot of risks outside of some of the bridges that do go off into haunting territories.
There isn’t really a dull moment on the album outside of “The Hell of Verdun.” The song starts off well enough, but as you progress it just varies too heavily between faster and slower paces, and despite a solid atmosphere, there are times where the music just feels generic and bland. But, aside those issues, Encirclement has some pretty strong material on it. For an album that clocks in at around an hour and seven minutes, the band really took advantage of what little time they gave themselves to come up with some diverse, yet crushing Death Metal. Fans of the group’s previous album will definitely find more than enough reasons to keep this album on repeat, and new fans to Decaying are encouraged more than ever to make this Finnish Death Metal band part of your collection with this release. Given the solid music and obvious passion incorporated into this album, it’s clear that Decaying have just put today’s Metal acts and fans on notice of their existence.
01. Initiation – 2:24
02. Operation Citadel – 6:27
03. From the Cradle to the Grave – 8:05
04. Artillery Barrage – 3:55
05. Battle of the Somme – 6:15
06. Conclusion – 9:12
07. On the Path of Subjugation – 5:14
08. The Hell of Verdun – 7:59
09. Public Enlightenment – 7:45
10. The Rising Sun – 10:29
|Overall Score: 9.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Hellthrasher Productions.