Review Summary: Concentrate.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve seen the artwork for Ænigmatum’s sophomore pop up in a few places that matter; the 20 Buck Spin
roster to start. While the label itself is better known these days for the lumbering death metal odysseys in the form of Cerebral Rot and Tomb Mold, they’ve also made a name in signing the occasional hybrid of metal sounds. Regardless of which side of the metal genre a new release would fall under, the likelihood that 20 Buck Spin
would back a middling and unrewarding listen is becoming increasingly slim.
From there I couldn’t help but notice the comfortably placed, but abstract leanings of Deconsecrate
’s art. Formidable columns adorn the image’s sides are curved, warped and ultimately pulled into a brain’s shape. A foreboding altar sits centred, distant—inviting their would be patron up the foundations jilted and twisted path and it’s at times like these the reviewer’s brain normally kicks in and detaches the album art for the sonic landscapes it represents. If anything, Ænigmatum give their first indications here that Deconsecrate
would be a thinking man’s
album (without pulling too hard at the cliche a line like this would normally suggest) and while it’s been pointed out to me that there’s no real correlation between “art smarts” and “music smarts”, I can’t help but lock this point away for my own specific scorecard, hiding the ridiculous cringe away from the general reading public as best I can. As you would expect it’s the aural landscape that does most of the art’s suggestive flexing. Ænigmatum’s sound sees the usual death meets blackened adjectives (crushing, fast, heavy, blasting et al) probing metal’s more niche regions, but put on a master class summary of all these separate, but familiar soundscapes. “Forged From Bedlam” crashes into existence, a whirlwind of breakneck, frenetic riffs carry gruff shouts. A flurry of guitar notes is complemented by expressive drum fills, before resorting to the typical blast beat backed riff-fest. Ænigmatum’s sophomore starts with a natural crash.
Yet, it’s hard to not appreciate the sheer amount of melodicism and groove that seeps from Deconsecrate
’s every pore. In this way, Deconsecrate
is a comprehensive experience, combining crushing riffs, neck-snapping grooves and the occasional shred seminar. “Fracturing Proclivity” is a sauntering display of heaviness, embellishing on a foundation of simple, well-executed ideas without compromising the clear instrumental focus an album like this deserves to have and while “Fracturing Proclivity” may err on the safer side of blackened death metal it is at times, too consistent—lacking the whiplash transitions shown on prior tracks, slowing those definable traits we can’t help but adore. With this in mind it’s not all
the time and Ænigmatum have the songwriting awareness to slow things down, drop a gear and give the listener a chance to inhale, exhale and go again. In splitting the album run’s time in half with an intermission, its back half becomes just as convincing, if not more, as the first. The lurching dissonant riffs that announce “Larker, Sanguine Phantom” are vicious before finding contrast in some almost
minimalist bass noodling.
may not have the big name pull of some of the year’s more prevalent albums, but it’s certainly a crisp and direct display of death-meets-melodic-blackened-metal aesthetic. At times it’s visceral, and unrelenting—at others...fluid, spacey and yet deliberately poised while retaining alarger, sweeping sound. All in all, there’s enough to take away from Ænigmatum’s sophomore that treat the ears while catering to those who enjoy all the earmarks of a heavy album that doesn’t take too many risks.