Embryonic Devourment: Reptilian Agenda

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Embryonic Devourment: Reptilian Agenda
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Embryonic Devourment: Reptilian Agenda
Brutal Death Metal
Deepsend Records
February 28th, 2014
Release length: 31:01
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Embryonic Devourment hails fom Willits, California, and formed back in 2003. That year the band issued their debut EP Beheaded by Volition, but it wasn’t until about five years later that the first full-length album Fear of Reality Exceeds Fantasy would drop, followed by Vivid Interpretations of the Void in 2010. As the years went on, Embryonic Devourment found a loyal following that continued to grow with every release. For 2014, they present a third full-length effort through Deepsend Records titled Reptilian Agenda, an album that keeps the conspiracy theory vibe alive by tackling the modern belief that a alien reptilian race is breeding with humans in order to control all of mankind. But is this a good take on the new fear, or is it as bad as the idea itself really is?

Embryonic Devourment continues working in their technical musical prowess to your typical Brutal Death Metal foundation on this release, and it can be felt right away with “Experimental Deformation.” The subtle mid-range bass presence during the complex introductory riffs takes things into more of a modern Progressive Death Metal approach, especially given the change to cleaner distortion and slower pace a little more than a minute in. While nearly three minutes, this sounds like more of an introduction performance than a full song, finding the music picking up a bit with “Suffer the Seas of Gore.” The performance itself is remarkably tight, moving between slower to mid-paced tempos despite the quicker burst from the drums bass kicks and the occassional sweeping technical riffs. This feels like the band is taking too much control of their own music, leading to a fluid performance that sounds incredibly sterilized outside the deeper growls that appear through most of the song to replace the passive Cookie Monster-like harsher style that makes up much of the release.

When the band doesn’t seem like they’re trying to make music best left to suspended animation, there’s a notable level of hostility that can really shine through. “Sealed with Resion” has a dominating drum presence and richer, louder guitars that throw a good deal of technical riffs your way that compliment the various pattern changes. This also fills the music a little more and helps make the harsher vocals a lot more intimidating. “Bloodgift” introduces a little extra bass-heavy chaos and enthusiasm that really takes advantage of the crisp audio quality. There are plenty of changes to the drum patterns, and a hefty dose of sweeping technicality in the guitars and bass as well, especially about two-and-a-half minutes in where the timing seems more like an act of aggression than anything else.

Then there’s “Whilst the Rich Dine,” which is a nice mixture of fluid slower guitar work with tight, technical drumming. This does create some rather uncompromising sections with plenty of differing patterns and solid transitions in and out, and two impressive guitar solos. “Challenging All Forms of Hope” does a better job at blending the two worlds together though. There’s a good deal of fluid riffs to be found throughout, but it also carries a thicker, more blunt sound that leaves very few gaps like some of the earlier tracks on the album, which actually ends up one of the biggest issues to be had about Reptilian Agenda.

The songs are impressive in technicality, but really just come off thin and boring much of the time. The focus on complex performances and timing changes mixed with effortlessly fluid slower and mid-tempo paces and a crisp audio quality all kind of work against the band. This greatly impacts the first three tracks to the point where the more complex passages just sound amateurish and poorly mastered, which clearly isn’t the case given some later cuts. Even some areas of “Masonic Angeldust” fail to really leave a mark. One of the biggest reasons is that Embryonic Devourment will rely heavily on the bass guitar to keep things going, but with how docile it sounds when the music doesn’t seem to have a decent amount of energy behind it, it becomes a rather rough experience that can make a few songs feel like a lifetime. It also doesn’t help that there are some here that suffer this fate, as well as seem to lack an ending, such as “Reptiliphiliac,” which seems to shift into a lower gear after a little while and keep running with it until the engine just gives up with an oddly simple chord to wrap things up, typically putting the emphasis on the bass guitar once again.

While Embryonic Devourment have the Progressive prowess to make an impressively technical Brutal Death Metal recording as far as performances go, the audio to this release nearly neuters everything that isn’t dripping with blunt aggression, intimidation, or at the very least enthusiasm. It also seems that those two worlds are literally split down the middle, finding maybe four fully enjoyable songs against four that desperately needed something a little more from the mix to make sure the fluid music would have the bite it needs to really stick with the listener, which is just an incredible shame. If you’re a fan of technical Metal in general, or enjoy some of the more Progressive bands on the Sumerian Records label (which would be the perfect home for this group admittedly), you might enjoy Reptilian Agenda, but even then it’s still worth sampling first.

01. Experimental Deformation – 2:49
02. Suffer the Seas of Gore – 4:34
03. Sealed with Resion – 5:13
04. Whilst the Rich Dine – 4:12
05. Bloodgift – 3:45
06. Challenging All Forms of Hope – 4:05
07. Masonic Angeldust – 3:31
08. Reptiliphiliac – 2:53
Initial Pressing Score: 4.5/10

Embryonic Devourment
Embryonic Devourment

Digital review copy of this release provided by Deepsend Records via Clawhammer PR.