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Enshadowed - Stare into the Abyss Award winner

Stare into the Abyss
by Chris Hawkins at 03 August 2020, 9:09 PM

Despite having been involved in the Metal scene in one way or another for most of my life, I am always having instances where I still discover new bands.  This week’s case is one that has been around since 1997, the Greek band, ENSHADOWED.  “Stare into the Abyss” is the band’s fourth release and to be perfectly blunt, made me a fan.  Those who long for the tenacity of the best of MARDUK, the eerie shadow-scapes of NAGLFAR, or the grandiose scale of when Abbath and Demonaz were on better terms, will rejoice.  This is serious stuff.

From the first few moments of “An Aspect of Chaos,” the first track, I immediately was awestruck.  With the billion Black Metal bands out there, few are able to capture the true essence of the genre’s seminal moments, e.g. EMPEROR’s “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” has topped best-of lists for decades now.  This is material conjured from the ether of necro-epic profundity.  The constant, mid-paced blast maintained by the drummer is a driving force like an army of war chariots in full pursuit of the enemy, and thus, the guitars have a true blank canvas upon which to paint their landscape of dreary fog-enveloped nights atop an ancient crag overlooking the vast expanse of the turbulent sea.  The 3:01 mark is when things climax with a broadly sweeping epic riff in the vein of Quorthon’s mighty Metal.  The bass is excellent.  As a bassist, I tend to be rather critical, but this guy has a fierce tone dialed in to that perfect frequency where he is able to stand out in the mix yet not overpower the rest of the band. This is truly an exciting record that takes the listener back already to the heyday of Black Metal in the 1990s which is when these guys got things together.  It all makes perfect sense.

The second track, “The Great Animist,” could be considered a more savage side of the band.  There are points where it seems like a stout early VOIVOD-influence was coming through such as with other bands like INQUISITIONENSHADOWED, though, do not linger too long on one section constantly mixing things up with a powerful array of thunderous, pulverizing Black Metal.

By the time “Beyond the Knowledge of Truth” and “Blackened Mouth of Despair,” the third and fourth track respectively arrive, I’m honestly already sold on this.  I don’t wish to appear easily swayed because I’m far from it (I’ve never given an album a perfect 10 in the over two years I’ve been writing here for Metal Temple).  A solid production is at work here, one that enhanced the band’s strengths such as the majestic cocktails of riffs they mix together while retaining that gloomy aesthetic and truly making this album work.  I cannot help but become lost in the thought of whether some of the truly classic Black Metal albums like early offerings from SATYRICON and IMMORTAL had been serviced with this level of professional polish in the studio, how would they have fared?  Don’t misunderstand me, though, I’m not advocating anything revisionary with this postulation for I can’t imagine “Dunkelheit” by BURZUM or anything from ULVER’s masterpiece, “Bergtatt,” with anything changed in the mix.  This is, after all, not Black Metal cancel culture.

The way this all comes together evokes those nights of mystery and exploration when I became further and further indoctrinated into black Metal until it was my favorite corner of the Metal world.  There is just this esoteric, occult vibe on this record that hearkens to myriad classics, yet the band have given a most unique performance by the time the climax and finale of the album, the final track, “Entropy of Men” arrives.  There is a calculating dystopian aura behind the bleakest moments here, one hard to ignore or succumb to.

What some would label the “simple stuff” like getting a truly thunderous, richly organic drum sound or dialing in that triumphant bass tone so the listener hears how fast he is playing those tremolo riffs are aspects that reveal how polished this sound is.  I’ve been a fan of Black Metal for three decades now and one would think I’d be sick of tremolo riffs by this point, but ENSHADOWED show how deadly a tool they can be in the tradition of many of the aforementioned Scandinavian bands yet with their own regal, Hellenic majesty.  This is one of the best albums this year, big words I know, but after a playthrough of “Stare into the Abyss,” I cannot see anyone who enjoys the best of Black Metal not really digging this.

Songwriting:  9
Originality:  9
Memorability:  9
Production:  9



4 Star Rating

1. An Aspect of Chaos
2. The Great Animist
3. Beyond the Knowledge of Truth
4. Blackened Mouth of Despair
5. Divide You Fall
6. A Form of Agony
7. Entropy of Men
N.e.c.r.o. – Guitars
Golgotha – Bass
Serpent – Vocals, Lyrics
Record Label: Odium Records


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Edited 05 March 2021

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