Sometimes I yearn for that basic, barebone sound. Rough-hewn, deathly rhythms unspoiled by modern tropes. Downturned, scratchy guitar riffs, drum work to beat you senseless, and growls that seem to emanate from one of the special corners of the Lightbringer’s abode. Olden times revived through metal-fused nostalgia? Yeah, kind of.
It’s during one of those discovery sessions, rummaging through the vilest dregs of that blackened soul, that Ensanguinate plunged into the review pipe. But it’s not only the intriguing band name that kinda stopped us in our tracks but also Eldritch Anatomy‘s album cover. Made by none other than Gorgoroth’s vocalist Atterigner1), also called the Khaos Diktator. Now, the artwork is so old-time Rotting Christ with its suffering hanged nailed god lookalike on it, we couldn’t quite resist. Poke the beast, if you dare, that kind of thing.
And it’s immediate reward time. The band hits the turntable with a high-energy, thrashy track called Hunted. The second installment, Cadaver Synod, leads off in a similar vein, but soon settles into a doomier kind of mid-tempo look and feel to it. But basically, this is old-school Death Metal, downturned guitars with frequent solos, a vile growly croak, and all that buffed to a finely blackened shine. A very destructive shine that seems to emanate from a weird triangular unholy hybrid of early Bathory, a trifle Gorgoroth, and some hint at Belphegor.
And yet. The record indeed heavily leans into occult themes. But Ensanguinate wisely chose to forgo the endless tremolo fest. Instead, Eldritch Anatomy goes directly for the jugular with brutal meaty DM vibes, much like Azaab did already earlier in the year. So, in essence, you’ll get those burly riffs and sturdy solos that early Death Metal stands for. A pretty impressive array of guitar goodness that moves from raw hi-octane shredding to almost doomy modes at times. In other words, you get the best of both worlds. Scorching hot metal and some mythical lore to boot. And that without having to resort to the worn-out tropes traditional Black Metal often has on offer. So, scream ‘Satan’ at me all day long, and serve red-hot, pretty unconstrained metal on a mighty platter at the same time.
This usually works beautifully, and this record is no exception. It comes with a nicely balanced flow that will keep your earphones glued to your head. The band indeed mixed brutality with a talented approach to serve olde metallics in a slightly crusty robe of unhinged scratchy harshness. And it does stand out from the crowd, which is quite a feat. Death Metal is an overcrowded genre and it’s truly difficult to get a foot into that particularly well-shut door.
If there’s anything to criticize, it would be that certain lack of creativity. A number of bands already rode down a very similar road. So, the record here surely is a good one. But to get to greatness, Ensanguinate need to kick it up a notch or two. Either through even more rotten power or by injecting some new(ish) elements that will make them stand out better from the proverbial crowd.
But in the end, Eldritch Anatomy contains no bad tracks. Ensanguinate sent us an impressive debut album that will stand its ground in this old and overcrowded genre. But its undeniable variation truly sold us. From darkened thrash, over doomy passages, to breakneck speedfests you get everything. Boy, Sublimination even contains a dialogue with the Daemon, complete with a heavy beat, sounds of crackling fire, and screams from the depths of hell.
Eldritch Anatomy sports Death Metal that truly harkens back to olden times when the genre was still young. A mighty counterweight to the infamous church burners that appeared shortly after its initial heyday. And all that harshness is delivered by a band that started its activities back in 2020. A truly astonishing metal moment. So, the RMR crew here won’t want to miss the next installment.
Keep ’em coming, Ensanguinate.
|1.||Aka Stefan Todorović.|