07 Dec 2021 - Pat O'
Technical Metal/Death Metal/Metal | Release date: 12 Nov 2021
Thunderous melodies, wicked harmonies and explosive vocals go some way in describing Enshroud’s latest release Darkness Grips Us All. A technical masterclass armed with clever hooks and a potency that will devastate.
Back in April and May of this year I took an online musical pilgrimage to France to sample the thriving post music scene over there and I have to say, I became instantly absorbed and transfixed under its revolutionary spell. The longer I listened and explored the scene, the more gems I was unearthing. It’s staggering, the amount of incredible music that’s buried in shallow graves, just looking for someone to kick up the loose undergrowth and hear what’s rumbling just below the surface. So, with that philosophy in mind, I spent the last number of weeks doing the same thing again, but on this occasion, I went looking for music that was right under my nose. With lockdowns fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to rummage around my local Irish scene and bring to the VoS listeners, some of the diverse and ground-breaking music that’s been bubbling away beneath the hardened steel lid of the Irish underground cauldron.
For this review I’m going to do my best to uncover the dynamism and ferocious energy of Enshroud. Their latest album Darkness Grips Us All is like an uncontrollable war machine that’s brutally armed with melody, shifting harmonies and devastating vocals, that mercilessly ploughs forward, churning up and flattening everything in its path. Anonymity is at the forefront of Enshrouds ethos with regards the band members identities for now, but whatever about personal details being unearthed, their music is a force of nature, that will enthral and possess every listener when given time to absorb its firepower.
The opening track, “Death Ritual” is a juggernaut, that pulverises with its cacophony of high-tech “death metal” gallops and its crushing vocals. Riffs rip and shred all asunder while drums detonate on impact, making this opening track a monster of a tune. Its thundering double bass drums, crushing guitars and soaring solos typify modern day metal, and the technical endurance needed to physically put this kind of power into music.
The following track, “I Walk It Alone”, for me, should have been the opening track, as it’s laced in atmosphere and suspense with its gentle guitars and its air of foreboding. A pummelling bass opens a ruthless but somewhat melodic vocal onslaught, that goes straight for the jugular. The riffs are tight and focused and the timing on the drums is precise. Tempo changes and some cleaner vocal overtones swirling amidst the blistering melody makes this one of the strongest tracks on the album. I’m not one to make too many musical comparisons when reviewing bands, as they all have their own identity at the end of the day, but you cannot deny the Gojira influence resonating through their instruments. The clarity of the production along with the technical ability of every member goes in no small way to highlighting the comparison, one that any band in this genre of music would be honoured with.
Pace, precision, and visceral intent is the name of the game on “Circus of The Vulnerable” and “Tear Me Down”. Two tracks heaving in mind shuddering riffs, barrelling drums, and cleverly crafted harmonic choruses that again bring more Gojira greatness to the fold. The ability to fuse clean and rasping vocals together gives these tracks more dynamism and are cleverly used to break the tracks down to chorus and verse when called upon.
My favourite track on Darkness Grips Us All is “Who Are We”. My love of “post-rock” echoes through on this track with its patiently sombre and haunting intro. Eerie reverbed strings hang in the mist-soaked air as gentle synths brush against the water’s edge, creating small gentle ripples. Distant drums echo with a solitary bass chord and wispy, floating vocals, rueful in requiem. In stark contrast, enter the earth-shattering vocals that bellow and pummel as those forlorn voices continue their lament in the background, right to the tracks end.
More high energy downpours continue in the shape of “Stare Back At Me” and “My Deliverance”. Tempo changes, soaring solos, all-devouring riffs, and a vocal range that tips both sides of the scales, drive the music towards the title track “Darkness Grips Us All”. On this track, sweeping guitars with raucous drums open the floodgates, but to be fair, the bass is the star of this track as it plucks heavy above the rhythm guitars, and in harmony with the vocals. Another powerhouse.
The closing track “The Runaway” is another highlight for me. Its slow and patient build up is a welcome gear change from what went before it. I’m immediately hooked on the doom-laden vocal tones and the menace that it conjures up. The music continues to plod along in its heavy leaden war boots digging thorough the dense boggy soil, until it reaches its haven within a dark open cavern, where the vocals and acoustic strings echo and crawl like ivy along the damp limestone walls. One final sharp and pulsating repeat section brings harmony and closure on a very impressive album.
Enshroud are like a sleeping giant. I sat on this album for close on two weeks, playing only one or two tracks here and there. But once I played it in its totality, everything became clear to me. There was cohesion and continuity throughout the album. Sadly, there was no fanfare or promotion for this release, and it’s a shame such is the quality of the music on show. Without any real social media brain washing, it’s hard to see how these guys can put themselves out there. However, their music is free to listen to on Spotify, and other streaming devices, so with that in mind, continue to stream and play the shit out of it, and wait for an opportunity to hopefully catch these guys live somewhere in these very uncertain times for the music industry.
P.S As of yesterday 06-12-2021, Enshroud can now be found on Bandcamp as well. Great news for everyone. Support the band!