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Decaying - "Encirclement" (CD)

Decaying - "Encirclement" CD cover image

"Encirclement" track listing:

1. Initiation (2:23)
2. Operation Citadel (6:17)
3. From The Cradle To The Grave (7:52)
4. Artillery Barrage (3:49)
5. Battle Of The Somme (6:06)
6. Conclusion (8:58)
7. On The Path Of Subjugation (5:12)
8. The Hell Of Verdun (7:46)
9. Public Enlightenment (7:33)
10. The Rising Sun (10:25)

Reviewed by on January 4, 2012

"For every improvement Decaying makes, there’s another flaw apparent to even out the progress made on 'Encirclement.'"

Finnish death metal group Decaying is heading back onto the battlefield for a second offensive with their sophomore effort “Encirclement.” While their first album, “Devastate,” was just pieced together from previous demos, “Encirclement” is ten all-new songs of traditional death metal. The band comes back with better production values and less of the doom exploits that held back “Devastate.” Still, for every improvement Decaying makes, there’s another flaw apparent to even out the progress made on “Encirclement.”

Decaying cuts back on the laborious double-digit tracks, though still finds a way for “Encirclement” to go over 65 minutes in length. The band has the chunky riffs down, and the killer guitar leads and dual harmonies are plentiful, but most of these songs don’t have the staying power to go 7-8 minutes. There’s also the screwball decision to put a track labeled “Conclusion” halfway into the record, with over 30 minutes to slop through afterwards. The band would had been better off just ending things with that stunner, instead of dragging out four more average-quality tunes.

For how uneven the last few songs are, “Encirclement” starts off with a promising delivery of instrumental toughness in “Initiation.” Things heat up with the ground-and-pound “Operation Citadel.” It justifies its running time with several tempo changes and an artillery-shell blast of strength from the instruments. The muffled vocals speak of warfare and senseless destruction, but the deep grunts are undermined by the loudness of the guitars in the mix.

“Devastate” had a few shorter tracks to balance out the 10-plus minute epics, and “Encirclement” follows the same pattern. “Artillery Barrage” is straight-laced with its uncompromising fury, and “On The Path Of Subjugation” incorporates melodic undertones in the guitar playing to make for a noticeable standout. If there’s one thing most of these songs lack, it’s that undeniable pull that makes a listener want to go back to relive a particular moment. Instead, these songs begin to blend together to the point that by the hour mark, it’s just background noise.

“Encirclement” is one of the first metal releases to grace us in 2012, and with the way the first few months of the year usually are, death metal fans should find Decaying’s new album to fulfill one’s appetite for explosive music. As the year goes on, however, “Encirclement” will show that it doesn’t have the appeal to keep in the minds of many listeners. The riffs are effective in their heaviness, but the structuring of the songs and tendency to stretch out the same-sounding parts has to be worked on for future releases.

Highs: Songwriting has improved since the early demos, better production, a few short beastly tunes to inject some adrenaline into the album

Lows: Goes on for about 30 minutes too long, vocals muffled by the loud guitars, song lengths are exuberant

Bottom line: Decaying shows slight progression with their new album, yet still suffers from redundancy in their songwriting and an inability to keep songs tight length-wise.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)