Enshadowed – Stare into the Abyss Review

At least in my part of the globe, winter is upon us, thus it is the season to get down and gloomy with the darker, atmospheric arts. My regular rotation has seen a spike in melancholy, ranging from melodic death, downtrodden doom, and black metal. So with my mood well adjusted, I nabbed the fourth LP from long standing Greek act Enshadowed from the promo bin, teeth gritted and fists clenched ready to grimace and headbang through a respectable slice of black metal, or so I envisioned. Active since the late ’90s, Enshadowed are old hands at their blackened craft, forging a bleak, icy sound, heavily indebted to the second wave of Scandinavian black metal. Despite their lengthy presence in the underground, I’m entering the band’s lair with no prior knowledge or experience with their works. So how do these Greek warriors stack up against the heavy hitting metal albums of the otherwise fucked-up, shit fight of 2020?

Enshadowed come storming out the gates with a fierce blizzard of hammering percussion, ominous, atmospheric guitar work, and venomous vocal rasps on the relentless title track. The opener sets the tone and is certainly a fairly accurate representation of what the listener can expect. The trio ply their trade with a minimum of fuss, carving out seven weighty cuts from the album’s lean 35 minute duration. Enshadowed eschew fancy shenanigans in favor of blasting intensity and no holds-barred aggression. This is especially amplified during the album’s vicious early throes. The opening three songs take no prisoners, shards of melody pierce through waves of discordant guitar work and a devastating battery of speed and raw savagery.

Session drummer George Trakas (Ravencult) bludgeons the absolute fuck out of his kit throughout the album’s entirety, proving especially committed to the Marduk school of nonstop blasting on early cuts, “The Great Animist” and “Beyond the Knowledge of Truth.” His high impact performance impresses, however, the occasionally monotonous drumwork and snare tone prove slightly distracting and domineering on occasions, on an otherwise committed delivery. Thankfully, the writing provides some welcome dynamics during the album’s mid and later stages, breaking up the monotony that threatens to dominate early on. “Blackened Mouth of Despair” is a particularly bludgeoning, gripping tune. Serpent’s varied vocals serve up a dreary, harsh accompaniment to a composition which counteracts dissonant chords and urgent blasts with a riff rumbling mid-paced dirge.

Similarly more varied cuts follow, proving pacing and dynamic arrangements are not in short order after all. Closer “Entropy of Men” returns to a high-octane mode, again relying heavily on bleak, atmospheric guitar work and frenetic drumming. The sheer intensity and almost thrashy elements ensure the song ends proceedings on an especially vicious mote. The collective energy, hunger and ferociousness displayed throughout Stare into the Abyss is admirable, but doesn’t completely cancel out the album’s nagging issues. However, despite the relatively compact duration, several songs creep past their welcome, while the album’s pacing and track sequencing is a bit out of whack. Nevertheless, a strong back-end and couple of particularly potent tunes raises the quality, without maintaining that elusive higher standard from start to finish to elevate the album to higher honors.

My hunger for black metal is not as insatiable as my appetite for death and other extreme genres and offshoots, but when the mood strikes, the genre can certainly deliver something special. Stare into the Abyss is not that album. However, with its aggressive, old school attack, darkly atmospheric charms, and dynamic, engaging back half, Stare into the Abyss provides solid, no-frills entertainment. Enshadowed is a tightly knitted unit, dedicated to the tried and true values of the genre, unloading a decent album with ravenous intent.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Odium Records
Websites: enshadowedofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/enshadowedofficial
Releases Worldwide: June 30th, 2020

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