If there’s one thing we like at Scream Blast Repeat, it’s a dose of Technical Death Metal. Which means Bristol’s Embodiment are preaching to the converted with their latest release.
Colossal riffs crunchier than pork crackling? Check. Double-bass drums that rattle like the barrel of a machine gun? Check. A minimum of eight different parts to each song? Check.
Guitar wizardry to impress a jazz musician? Check. Vocals that refine goblin screams into a malevolent art? Check.
The band had all the above features on their 2015 self-titled debut and filtered them through the syncopated riffs of Decapitated with the shredding sweeps of Between the Buried and Me. But one listen to Palingenesis will make it clear Embodiment have switched their sound to a darker approach akin to the final two Emperor albums while staying true to their Tech Death roots.
Album opener, ‘Reverence Through Disgust’, is an absolute face-smasher once the Kreator riff gives way to a tidal wave of blast beats and high-pitched vocal snarls. The chorus transports you to the world of Philip Glass’s classical scale runs before the band throw in a few off-beats to keep you dazzled. This type of technical brilliance shines through in latest single, ‘Tyrant’, and on the epic ‘Masquerades (The Delusion)’. Isahn’s fingerprints are all over the carnage; Gene Hoglan will marvel at the drum performance from stickman, Les Preston. Periphery fans are in for a treat when they hear the polyrhythm at the beginning of ‘Outbreak’.
But Embodiment are more than a Tech Death precision machine. Anybody who’s seen their 2015 promo video, ‘The Beast’, will notice the band have since grown their hair, bushed up their beards and filled out. Their sound has undergone a similar transformation. Ambient atmospherics lace the melodies beneath the brutality. Gothic keyboards and subtle synths add new colours to the palette. Standout track, ‘Sanctuary’, recalls the stomp of Gojira’s ‘Vacuity’, yet ‘Eternal Torment’ delivers the best guitar work with syncopated riffs on a par with Decapitated’s iconic, ‘Spheres of Madness’. This is the moment you’ll swing your head and gurn in the mirror like a sex-starved soldier on foreign soil.
Yet with so much going on, it’s hard to remember anything on first listen. Your brain will cry out for a lobotomy unless you subject it to another drilling beneath the headphones. The band come close to overkill at times, but three years making this record has taught them to hold back when needed. Which means we get some welcome respite with three instrumental interludes to break up the panzer march. The only weakness here is the tendency for each musician to cram as much as possible into each song, which can sometimes suck the air out of a composition, even if it’s the fetid oxygen of relentless Death Metal we crave. You’ll need time to breath at the three-quarter point, but this is a minor quibble.
UK Death metal is in a healthy state right now and Embodiment, like Lancashire Metal titans, Slugdge, are leading the charge. After repeat listens to Palingenesis, it all becomes clear. This is a top-class effort from an ambitious band.
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Reverence Through Disgust, Eternal Torment, Sanctuary
Suggested Further Listening: Emperor – XI Equilibrium (1999), Decapitated – Nihility (2002), Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (2018)