Review Summary: Embraced by the Absolute – when a melodic death metal band doesn’t forget that they play death metal.
ck Gothenburg. Its ‘influence’ has satiated the melodic death genre into pure crap, and not only has left us with an overabundance of shi
tty bands, but also shi
tty bands who call themselves death metal but really don’t adhere to anything remotely death
. Autumn Leaves’ debut, Embraced by the Absolute
, is a melodic death metal album harkening back to the days when having a melody didn’t mean you had to turn into a pussy. Although becoming perhaps more melodic with their sophomore As Night Conquers Day
, their debut is unique in that it is simply a death metal album, with melody, and not the other way around.
Opener ‘Blood’ is perhaps the epitome of Autumn Leaves’ signature sound. You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that this wasn’t even a melodic death album after hearing only this track: it’s fu
cking brutal. Nevertheless, hints towards the band’s future sound rise to the surface at various moments on the album, with some fantastic melodies evident in the riffs and solos. None of these, however, degrade the songs into anything less than death metal; whether it is through varying awesome riffage, groove-laden breakdowns or blistering solos, the album retains the band’s death metal roots while allowing a subtle pervasion of melody.
The aforementioned ‘groove’ is an integral part of Embraced by the Absolute
. Tandrup’s bass makes up for most of the groove; it’s readily audible among the mix, and although production is not perfect, it is just right as to allow for the bass to be easily picked out. There wasn’t a moment on the album where I stopped thinking ‘holy shi
t this is awesome’, and you can be sure that it was the result of both the bass and other instruments being played rather aptly. The album has a slight element of surprise within its song structure; while not being as streamlined as As Night Conquers Day
, but not really pushing into progressive territory, it remains in a place that leaves the songs both addictive and accessible.
Being released in 1997, the production could be better. Of course you’ll always get the pussies who can’t take a little wear on the band’s musical aesthetic; they’ll write off anything with ‘bad’ production and stubbornly maintain that their watered down bullshi
t, a la As Blood Runs Black, is somehow superior. Not that the production on Embraced by the Absolute
is bad, but there is just such a good death metal album contained within that the production should have no bearing whatsoever on your opinion of it. The production is not dissimilar to death metal albums of the period anyway, so one shouldn’t expect anything remotely ‘bad’ with Embraced by the Absolute
; it’s mixed similarly to their sophomore, really.
Vocally, Embraced by the Absolute
is as remarkable as it is musically. Vocalist Torsten Madsen has a rather low growl which moves up and down in tone with relative ease. His contribution makes every song all the more stronger, and moments such as the extended breakdown on ‘Forever the Destiny’, or his various grunts on others, really give the album an added sense of appeal.
It is this appeal which makes Embraced by the Absolute
an absolute success of an album. It is enjoyable from start to finish, remains true to itself, and has a delicate balance between brutality and melody; a balance that is hardly regarded by most other melodic death. Whether or not you consider this album to be better than Autumn Leaves’ second album, or other typical melodic death albums, is simply a matter of opinion, as both are different enough to warrant a diverse fan base (well, as diverse as one can get with death metal). Ultimately though, it’s the opinion of this reviewer that Embraced by the Absolute
is far better than As Night Conquers Day
. Not only that, but the album is easily one of the best melodic death albums that you will hear; screw Gothenburg, because Autumn Leaves take the fu
cking cake. Highly recommended.