Encryptment – Dödens Födsel Review

Along comes Stockholm’s Encryptment with debut Dödens Födsel, a title that translates from their native Swedish as… wait, give me a second with Google Translate… my goodness! “Dead Fetus.”1 That’s grisly, but fair enough–the Kingdom of Metal is a tough place to be an angel or a fetus. Dödens Födsel was a random pluck from the Promo Sump, and I half-hoped to let it go neglected in the crush of list season and day-job deadlines. Then I pressed “play,” and the album assaulted me with a half-hour of crusty, blackened death vitriol. These eight tracks puff their chest out with appealing punk rock swagger–but Encryptment mostly gets the metal parts right, too, lacing this thing with surprising flashes of groove and other eclectic flourishes. Dödens Födsel is a worthy first effort, and it deserves a better fate than to disappear in the end-of-year shuffle. Goddammit.

Dödens Födsel blisters with a fury cut by occasional notes of dread. It plays like a message shouted by a gutter punk who’s been having dreams about something vast and unknowable slumbering on the ocean floor. Christoffer Dorsin spits out the mostly Swedish lyrics with a death metal timbre and a hardcore cadence, while his bandmates whip up a crust-coated frenzy behind him. Guitar solos and other bougie baubles are distributed sparingly as if Encryptment bought them with the spare change cadged from a hard day’s haranguing passersby. The music traces its roots back to the metalpunk of Repulsion and early Morbid Angel–but the borderline catchy passages in songs like “Central Disharmoni” and “Existens I Ambivalens” evoke a version of Mantar who got meaner after their first album instead of more accessible. The band dispenses this vile hooch in limited doses, with the album stomping away just as fatigue sets in from a lack of dynamics in the songwriting.

The platter attacks relentlessly, but its best moments come when Encryptment offers the listener snatches of relief. “Central Disharmoni” is the clear highlight, finding a balance of brutality and hooks that the rest of the album lacks. Penultimate track “Poisonous Salvation” slows things down to a tortured crawl that echoes Goatwhore’s flirtations with sludgy doom. More respite can be found on cuts like “Withered Hands,” but for the most part, Dödens Födsel is all blitzkrieg, all the time. Tore Stjerna’s production showcases a vital performance from drummer Joel Eriksson. The drums sound like drums–weird choice, right?–with every part of the kit present and accounted for in the mix.

Encryptment exhilarates and exhausts in equal measure. The pace flirts with grindcore, and by the end of the album, I found myself wishing the band had wrapped things up in less than thirty minutes the way grind bands typically do. The songs work just fine; the last two tracks are among the best on Dödens Födsel. But my old mentor used to advise me that, with any creative pursuit, you reach a point when the audience “just wants it to be fucking over.” Encryptment hits that mark and keeps going, leaving the impression that this debut full-length lacks an LP’s worth of ideas to sustain it.

This is a young band with an urgent mission statement and the chops to communicate it clearly. The things that work on Dödens Födsel more than compensate for its flaws, and those flaws feel like an easy fix. If Encryptment can lean into their talent for scumbling the darker aspects of their sound with overlays of light, this outfit is capable of making a big statement in the genre. They haven’t done that yet, but Encryptment’s debut still deserves a look from fans of the fast and nasty. If that’s you, then let this bracing draught of nihilism be your antidote to the holiday treacle.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Nuclear Winter Records
Website: encryptment.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. An alternate source has this as “the birth of death,” but let’s go with Google Translate for the sake of the bit.
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