Sentient Ignition burst onto the death metal circuit one year ago, dropping a two-track demo that caught the ears of everyone from MetalSucks to Toilet Ov Hell. Mixing melody, technical skill, and progressive intent, the demo delivered a product equal parts surprise and success. Enthroned in Gray is now tasked with living up to expectations set dangerously high for a band whose career spans 15 minutes and 52 seconds. 1 Fortunately, Sentient Ignition prove they can last on the big stage, parlaying sublime musicianship and a skilled touch into a debut with staying power.

Building on orchestral opener “Ascension,” “Enthroned in Gray” roils with classic melodic death riffing so convincing that you’d be forgiven for thinking you had flipped on The Black Dahlia Murder. A bevy of technical and progressive death elements join the fray, tied together neatly by the varied vocal performance of Sev Erist. Obscura-brand guitar-work develops along neo-classical lines, though the album’s peaks remind me of Cattle Decapitation in how effective a simple guitar direction can be. One guitar drives the melody while the other brings the beefy rhythms, a tandem that never fails to pull your arms back and ride you across foamy melodies like a surfboard. In a heartbeat, the music throttles back to a jazzy interlude both effective and suited to the atmosphere. This localized nuance reveals Sentient Ignition’s ability to deviate from the genre’s non-stop wall of wankery without losing its edge. “Black Lattice” furthers this heading, slowly playing Chris Rosset’s thrumming bass off of the darkness of In Mourning and Omnium Gatherum melodicism.

“A Thousand Ages” turned many heads on Sentient Ignition’s 2016 demo and for good reason. It combines the shattering scales of contemporaries like Allegaeon and Vale of Pnath with more Obscura grooves, launching itself into the stratosphere with a fantastic midsection. It’s one of the record’s purest moments of release; it also suffers from stunted development. The interlude that follows does not want for quality – it’s one of the record’s best – but it still cuts off a very promising direction. These lulls head off an all-encompassing riff barrage, but they also close off the potential of tracks like “A Thousand Ages” and headbobber “Grasp of the Infinite.” Previously, it was easy to understand the emphasis placed on maintaining internal balance; after all, the demo was meant to showcase their spectrum of talents. However, the trend’s expansion across Enthroned in Gray leaves Sentient Ignition only limited opportunities to carve brutality into your eardrums. Guitarists David Schönholzer and Albert Hu cut bright, compelling material, often as catchy as it is diverse. Their back half outburst on closer “Binding Time” never fails to boil my blood. Yet right when it should close out the album with a bang, the track pulls back, content to amble into the finish.

That same dichotomy of variation also appears in Erist’s vocals. His intonations are praiseworthy, but not without noting his diversity is both a strength and a weakness. His commanding lows recall In Vain’s Andrea Frigstad, while his highs tend toward Trevor Strnad of TBDM fame. Though the pair plays well off each other, Erist’s middle-third Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) dimensions are never unhinged enough. Their vibes trend toward straight metalcore and stick out obliquely, popping up regularly across Enthroned in Gray’s Whack-a-Mole board. Given the strength of Erist’s other personas, excising the red-headed stepvoice should be an easy fix. Friend of the Guy and producer extraordinaire Zack Ohren (Fallujah, Immolation) offers a solid mix. Though clipping and general loudness hinders the builds and proggy digressions, I cannot quibble with the instruments’ positioning or tone, which handle both spacey diversions and all guns blazing with ease.

The record clocks in around 45 minutes and repeat listens fly by. The ease I feel in pushing play again and again is likely the strongest endorsement of Enthroned in Gray I can give. Overlooking youthful growing pains is simple, given the music’s fresh face and already impressive demeanor. The sky’s the limit for Sentient Ignition; I can’t wait to see where they go next.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: sentientignition.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/SentientIgnition
Releases Worldwide: May 1st, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. With that fantastic Pär Olofsson art in their corner, they’re off to a great start.
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  • Jason

    For a self-released album, that’s some pretty sweet cover art they’ve got going.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      Par Olofsson is one of the best in the biz.

      • Jason

        i don’t usually pay attention to WHO does the cover art so much as long as it looks cool, but I’ll have to look this artist up.

        • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

          You’ve definitely seen his work before. He did work for Immortal and Immolation and was the go to guy for a lot of tech-deth for a long time.

          • Jason

            Oh damn! I recognize a LOT of those even without the band logos.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            He did the cover for Spawn Of Possession’s “Incurso”. Totally awesome. He’s done like a thousand other cool covers.

  • AnnieK13

    Not a fan of “Loudness” but kind of liking this, just wish it sounded a bit better.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Try “Thunder in the East” their fifth album… Oh, you mean “Loudness” the sound quality, not the Japanese band…

      Sorry, couldn’t refrain from making this lame joke ;)

      • Name’s Dalton

        I got a kick out of it.

  • Zach Ward

    Nice review, sounds enticing. Shall be giving this a listen very soon.

  • Drew Music

    Pretty solid for American death metal, better sound quality sure wouldn’t hurt it though. Lot of really familiar feeling riffage, yet it never seems to outright reek of blatany mimicry of anything. The constant – but super smooth – shifts in melodic direction probably help that by keeping it moving, but the end result is pretty enjoyable all the same. Sweet find, sweet review. Stay gold, Wvrmy Boy.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      u no it bby

  • AgonMcDuck

    I am so digging this. Probably the first album this month that really blew me away.

    • Kevin Taylor

      Give Raster Density-Mother Ov Mankind a shot. Maybe that could blow you away a little bit;)

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    THIS IS MY NU SHIT

    • You wot m8?

      As long as it’s not nu-shit…

      • sir_c

        he did phrase it correctly

  • Thomas Wilkens

    Whenever I see new melodic death metal I instantly click play.

  • Levly

    The production is way too loud and in your face, but otherwise I dig it, great balance of melody and technicity.

  • rumour_control

    “…popping up regularly across Enthroned in Gray’s Whack-a-Mole board.” — stellar description.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Sentient Ignition? That’s a pretty cool band name! That’s something really hard to achieve nowadays, when it appears all the good band names having been taken. Otherwise why would bands resort to naming themselves Iwrestledabearonce or We Butter the Bread with Butter?

    • You wot m8?

      Hey, WBtBwB has deeper meaning than you can possibly fathom!

      • Tofu muncher

        I thought it was because of watching Last Tango in Paris way too many times.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        That doesn’t make it any less lame…

      • sir_c

        About as deep as Between the Sheets with Your Mother, I gather.

  • John Mosley

    Intriguing. I need some album to capture my attention. Something of a doldrums of albums I can get into of late.

  • Brent Johnson

    Everything is in place but not hearing much that someone else isn’t doing better. I’d give it a 2.75.

  • herrschobel

    this helped me to realise how old school i am when it comes down to death metal…can´t listen to this … modern production the screaming…meeehh…not my cup of tea i guess…give me some Benediction…now !!!!

  • sir_c

    Their writing makes it sound a bit busy, but it is very decent.

  • Lou Daz

    The embedded track is probably my favorite off the album. I went and listened to the whole project, and overall, it’s good. I can do without the clean metalcore vocals, but the growls are great, and I like how tight the guitars and drums play together.