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Engel - "Threnody" (CD)

Engel - "Threnody" CD cover image

"Threnody" track listing:

1. Six Feet Deep
2. Sense The Fire
3. For Those Who Will Resist
4. Feed The Weak
5. To the End
6. Every Sin (Leaves a Mark)
7. Down
8. Heartsick
9. Threnody
10. Burn
11. Perfect Isis

Reviewed by on May 1, 2011

"Engel is walking in the footprints of giants and not treading lightly, adding their own mark."

If metal was a war, Engel would be the reinforcements coming in for the Swedish melodic death front. This five-piece band has its roots planted firmly in that camp and finds itself picking up in the wake of In Flames. This makes perfect sense if you consider that Engel guitarist Niclas Engelin was just made a full member of In Flames this year and has also played in Gardenian. The band’s second effort is called "Threnody," and is named appropriately for a few reasons.

A "threnody" is a song, hymn, or poem of mourning meant as a memorial for the departed. It’s safe to say that the classic Swedish melodic death metal sound is dead, and "Threnody" is a memorial to the classic sound. Much like fellow Swedes Arch Enemy, Engel pushes a very riff-driven modern sound with lush production courtesy of Tue Madsen, who has also produced Dark Tranquillity and The Haunted. "Threnody" marks its own style with an added electronic/alternative element, but would easily fit in a playlist with just about any In Flames album from "Reroute to Remain" forward.

The kickoff song, "Six Feet Deep," opens the album with furious riffing and drumming with a big memorable sung chorus, leading into "Sense the Fire." This song shows the depth of expression in Magnus Klavborn’s voice and the band’s compact and effective writing style. "For Those Who Will Resist" sees guitarists Niclas Engelin and Marcus Sunesson teaming up in a crushing attack of riffs, with new drummer Jimmy Olausson following their lead. Bassist Steve Drennan keeps things traditional and follows the guitars.

"Feed the Weak" has an irresistible fist-in-the-air groove to most of it and the lyrics talk of a sanitarium. "To the End" involves a bit of acoustic and builds to one of the album’s most dramatic choruses, backed by plenty of lush synths. At times, it even recalls Engelin’s past work with Anders Friden (In Flames) on their side project, "Passenger."

"Every Sin (Leaves a Mark)," "Burn," and "Down" have more big riffs and bigger choruses with multi-layered vocals. "Heartsick" and "Perfect Isis" are two weighty highlights, both of which deal with love and longing, which are actually refreshing themes in a genre dominated by anger or personal struggle. The title track, "Threnody," is a blast from thrash metal past at first, but quickly morphs into Engel’s familiar style. The song is a threnody by definition, though a very up-tempo one.

This record is a strong, vibrant, and catchy offering of modern Swedish melodic death metal. If you've made the jump to the new school sound, you won’t be able to resist it. If you’re looking for light and effective usage of mellotron, synthesizer, or other goodies like gang yells and some pretty epic reverb, look no further. Engel is walking in the footprints of giants and not treading lightly, adding their own mark.

Highs: "Heartsick," "Perfect Isis," and "Feed The Weak"

Lows: Must be okay with catchy and accessible Swedish melo-death to like this

Bottom line: A solid record with little in the way of innovation, but gushing with strong form and a great example of the modern beast that Swedish melodic death metal has become.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)