*By Mike Marlinski and Vick Sacha
A couple weeks ago, Mike and I were fortunate enough to be two out of half a dozen people who got to see Enfold Darkness on tour with Invoking the Abstract. And I gotta say, y’all missed out on an amazing tour package. We’d like to sincerely apologize for the poor turnout, to the bands and the Buffalo metal community; had we known far enough in advance, we would’ve done more to promote this show and help our metal brethren. But of course, the past is the past, and onward we march…
Enfold Darkness will be releasing their sophomore album, Adversary Omnipotent a month from today; their debut full length, Our Cursed Rapture, came out a staggering eight years ago in 2009. Though it seemed for a while that Enfold became ghosts in the metal community, Adversary Omnipotent is out to prove that they are very much alive and doing very very well.
The opening track, “Awaken, Brak’tal O’Minn” is the classic “calm before the storm”- a clear cut ominous orchestral arrangement, paving the way to “Lairs of the Ascended Masters”: the album’s first punch to your gut. New vocalist, Andy Nelson kicks things off with his textbook black metal grunts and sends us flying through a crushing black metal chord progression, fueled by thrash drumming. As the song progresses, some quick flash emerges from the guitars- a sequence of blisteringly fast alternate picked single note driven riffs, cool harmonized chords and a punishing low end. This section almost has me thinking about Arsis’s We are the Nightmare, before Enfold Darkness switches gears and returns to their signature technical black metal style. The bulk of the song turns into a series of ballistic buildups of eerie chords, shrill elongated screams with brilliant sustain and powerful war drums carrying the band throughout. At last, we have the full scope of what this album is about.
The following track, “Liberator of Mages” provides the listener with an array of the darkened tremolo riffing, more common in this genre. Yet, there’s no letup in sight, as the song progresses into seamless transitions from Enfold Darkness’s technical side, to their melodic side, to their traditional black metal side and back again. The lead guitar work on this song in particular is very melodic at times, more so than on the rest of the album. It’s very refreshing and paints a different picture for the band, even if only for a short time. It’s not a departure from their core sound by any means, but it definitely polarizes with their brutal sections.
Overall, this album has a lot of great diversity and dynamics. There’s never a dull moment- such a commonly used tagline, but I’m only using it because it’s true. By around track 6, I’m repeatedly reminded of a few key albums from my past. In my opinion, Adversary Omnipotent should have instant fan recognition with Cradle of Filth’s Midian, Arsis’s We are the Nightmare, Abigail William’s In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns and Necrophagist’s Epitaph. Sections in Enfold Darkness’s songs, “The Sacred Daemonic” and “Invocation of Na’ak Ba’ran” share all of the aforementioned qualities, but even present a symphonic vibe that comes and goes (despite the absence of orchestral elements).
Drummer, Greg Vance really shines on track 6, “Banishment”. His blasts are on point, effortlessly transitioning in and out of abrupt clean parts with drum breaks, monstrous fills and broken down simplicity. All of his drum choices per riff are very complimentary, showcasing impressive intricacies, as well as death metal drumming basics, all wielded at just the right moments.
I mentioned abrupt clean parts before and this band loves them. It happens again in track 9, “Terror of a Perilous Quest” and I feel it’s a great compliment to the song. A lot of elitists heavy into this genre, call sections like these “mood killers”, but I disagree. A big part of atmospheric/technical black metal is a conveyance of sadness, longing, anger, guilt- basically the entire negative end of the human emotional spectrum. What better way to convey such emotions than with sad clean guitars?
Guitarists, Elijah Whitehead and James Turk, and bassist, Todd Honeycutt, shine throughout the entire album, in case you didn’t get that impression already. These are players who know the genre in and out, leaving no stone unturned. There isn’t a single section out of all 13 tracks on Adversary Omnipotent that left me wanting more from the string section.
The record closes out with an 8 minute epic called, “Vanish into Damnation”. I love this title for the closer. It’s a great foreshadowing tool, which hopefully implies that the band will be returning from damnation in the near future; or at least, revisiting the studio in less than 8 years.
Adversary Omnipotent comes out July 14; you can pre-order your copy on Enfold’s label’s website.
Speaking of, shout out to Enfold’s new label, The Artisan Era, for continually pumping this album and the tour they’re on. Without them, we’d have never known about said tour, and would have missed an awesome opportunity to witness another step in Enfold’s growth.