Ensanguinate – Eldritch Anatomy

Posted: 8 September 2022 in Albums
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Emanzipation Productions – 2nd September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

From a certain perspective, all aspect of life can be seen to exist as one vast intertext, whereby everything connects and intersects with something, everything, else, by some devious and circuitous route. So the title of Ensanguinate’s debut long player actually makes me think of The Sisters of Mercy, whose singer, Andrew Eldritch, devised the band’s ‘head-and-star’ logo by ripping off one of the illustrations from Grey’s Anatomy – the medical textbook, not the television series. And of course, an inescapable aspect of life, which diagrams for dissection plainly remind us in the most clinical of fashions, is the inevitability of death.

I’ve sat myself down in my office to compose this review under circumstances very few would have predicted only this morning, whereby here, in Britain at least, this morning has become an evening of mourning with blanket coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. I need to simply switch off from all of it, what will likely be the start of a month of commentary, with endless shots of palace gates and cavalcades while the rest of the world is on pause.

The best escape always lies in something completely different, and in strange or difficult times, pure catharsis invariably tends to be the best remedy. Ensanguinate are the very essence of catharsis, distilled to optimum potency. Their bio describes the band as ‘Slovenia’s putrid entry into the death metal grimoire of old. Leaning heavily on the genre’s occult beginnings, the band stands out by distilling Possessed, Morbid Angel, and Grotesque into a searing death/thrash assault that deviates from today’s run-of-the-mill death metal’.

The tiles are great, and speak for themselves, with the likes of ‘Cadaver Synod’, ‘Perdition’s Crown’, ‘Lowermost Baptisms’, and, my favourite, Gaping Maws of Cerberus’ perfectly summarising the music itself – snarling, subterranean, satanic guttural utterances barked against a fast and furious backdrop of guitars charred and blackened like burnt offerings strewn around the opening to the pits of hell.

The hell-for-leather riffing and frenetic drumming is all-out from the first bar, with ‘Hunted’ packing in the darkest, dirtiest sonic carnage into under four minutes, and still shoehorning in a truly frenzied guitar solo.

Ensanguinate really do work the epic solo, and while there’s a certain element of genre cliché and absurdity about it, this kind of gnarly metal is the only context where solos aren’t only excusable, but one hundred percent necessary, essential even. The slower intro on ‘Ghoul Presence’ lumbers into showy, almost symphonic territory, before it goes all-out obliterative pace and raw-throated growling.

Eldritch Anatomy is the sound of a band revelling in excess, with everything louder than everything else, and everything is dank, murky and dripping with the dirtiest distortion. It’s full-fledged filth, bowel-shaking nastiness dragged up from satanic swamps that steam so hard you can picture the sweat running down the walls as the band whip themselves into a furious frenzy.

The album’s final track, the seven-minute ‘Vile Grace’ begins altogether more delicately, with some gracefully picked clean but chorused guitar before the power chords crash in hard and slow and build to a thunderous chug. It’s hard and heavy and offers a condensed rendition of all of the album’s main elements, albeit at half the pace and so with added weight and sledgehammer impact. In doing so, it rounds off an album that has it all in terms of texture and dynamics, and delivers every note with an unstinting ferocity that’s admirable.

AA

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