Order of Ennead is the side project of the venerable Steve Asheim, better known as the drummer and primary writer of death metal legends Deicide. While it’s hard to a review like this, particularly on a newer project like this, without referencing the guy’s older work, the responsible reviewer in me thinks that one should probably draw a line here. Instead, I’d like to focus on the content and quality of An Examination of Being, the second record from these Floridians blackened death metallers without taking cheap shots at Glen Benton. So I’ll just take one: Order of Ennead is better because Glen Benton isn’t in it.
Order of Ennead is, indeed, a blackened death metal band. They sound like the kind of thing that could easily be signed to Regain Records these days. A mix of death metal brutality, black metal trem picking and blasting, and the very At The Gates kind of vocal approach that one wouldn’t expect so much from Florida death metal, but instead from the coast of Sweden. However, unlike some of the misfires in this area over the past few years, An Examination of Being feels extreme and honest while still appealing to individuals who like a bit of melody in their metal with solid hooks and excellent guitar work.
The writing here isn’t revolutionary by any extent of the imagination. This doesn’t necessarily make the album any less enjoyable. Songs like “Conduits to Eternity” and “Lies Upon the Lips of Judas” showcase the groove-based death metal that can still be seen at the root of the music, while “…In the Mirror” and “A Portal to Rapture” sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on a 1349 or Ragnarok CD. These pieces are very well tied together in the best of songs, and sometimes they feel a bit foreign in the same arena, but this is very few and far between. Particularly the piece tying these things together is the guitar work of one John Li who is a highly competent guitar player who litters most tracks with phenomenal solos.
While Order of Ennead does a very strong job of building dark, entrancing songs this record does feel a tad repetitive and long. The problem with that critique is that An Examination of Being clocks in at 39 minutes long. This speaks for itself, I think. After hearing the first few tracks and really liking them, it wasn’t until the final song on the album “A Betrayal of Self” that I felt really engaged in what was going on again (there’s a really great solo in a clean part that I really liked). Structurally this lull kind of kills the album for me, slipping in one ear and out the other.
So, I have mixed feelings about Order of Ennead, while I certainly like it better than later Deicide, this lands nowhere near the territory of a band like Dissection or Necrophobic. I suspect that these guys could definitely get better, particularly given the obvious skills of the band involved. But if you check out this record and you can’t get over the feeling that you’ve heard this all before and you can’t quite place it, don’t be surprised.