Ensanguinate – Eldritch Anatomy Review

I’ve listened to a goodly amount of death metal this year, and seem to be at a place mentally where I just want more and more of it. When I saw the name Ensanguinate in the promo sump, it spoke to me of wet, gruesome things and horrid death sounds most unappetizing. Naturally, I took it home to pet and cuddle. Ensanguinate hail from Slovenia and Eldritch Anatomy is their debut full-length. The promo materials speak of their love for Possessed and Morbid Angel, but I hear very little of those legendary acts in their material. This is classic old school death with blackened edges, and there’s more than a little Vader and Hate referenced in their vile attack. A strong undercurrent of early Bathory is discernable as well. They do a good job of harnessing this blackened energy to give their death a darker, more ominous atmosphere and talent is clearly present. Does that mean Eldritch Anatomy is essential death metal for 2022? Let’s break it down.

This is the kind of album that comes out blazing and impresses right off the bat. Opener “Hunted” is a salivating attack dog with teeth flaring and eyes rolled back in the head. It goes for the throat with a thrashy, ugly pace and a weirdly lurching sound that recalls Bathory‘s The Return. It’s very old school but doesn’t sound overly dated and the energy is infectious. “Cadaver Synod” keeps the ball rolling with more in-your-face ferocious death fun with references to Leprosy era Death and a bit of Cannibal Corpse mashed up into a hideous slaughterhouse smoothie. The very strong start is rounded out with the d-beaty rage of “Ghoul Presence” where the band blends Swedeath riffage with ugly old school stuff like Autopsy and Necrophagia. There’s just the right amount of doomy dread and face-bashing speed, and everything fits together well.

After that, however, Eldritch Anatomy is a bit of a mixed cadaver bag. A few cuts are decent but more generic, like “Perdition’s Crown” and “Death Vernacular,” and the better tracks Like “Gaping Maws of Cerberus” sometimes suffer from bloat. Album closer “Vile Grace” is richly moody and darkly atmospheric with major nods to Behemoth, but at 7 minutes it runs about 2 minutes too long. At a fairly concise 44 minutes, Eldritch Anatomy isn’t a chore to endure however, and the band nail their recipe more often than they miss. Even when they miss, the songs are still fairly solid, so the foundation is clearly a firm one to build on. The sound is ideal for the material, with a nasty guitar tone and a satisfying bass presence.

Andrej Čuk (ex-Eruption) handles vocals and joins Jaka Črešnar on axe duty. He has a loveably nasty death croak and sounds entirely convincing belching along to the heavy noise. The guitar work from Čuk and Črešnar is impressive. They cast off some fine death riffage and then layer melodic and melancholic guitar passages into the ugliness with good results. Some of the solo work is soaring and almost neo-classical, and it adds an interesting texture to the otherwise brutish and ugly soundscape. They also indulge in plenty of blackened trem leads that feel cold and isolating. Mike Manslaughter does a solid job bringing his bass to the fore, lending the material a goodly low-end rumble and weight. Matjaz “Winko” Winkler also impresses with a thunderous performance behind the kit. Raw talent is definitely not a problem here.

Talent aside, Eldritch Anatomy is an album showcasing potential without fully reaching it. The good is very good, and the bad isn’t really bad, just bloated and/or generic. Ensanguinate have the tools to compete in the death metal sweepstakes and I suspect they have a killer platter in them. With tighter writing and a bit of editing, they could unleash a whole lotta Hell on earth next time, and I’m here for that. This may not rise to the level of “must hear” but it’s good enough to deserve a very loud spin. This is a band to keep tabs on.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Emanzipation Productions
Websites: ensanguinate.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ensanguinate
Releases Worldwide: September 2nd, 2022

« »