Engel continue to propel down the road of success
Engel originally came to form in 2004 when seasoned musicians Niclas Englen of Swedish Death Metal outfit Passenger and Marcus Sunesson of The Haunted recruited unique vocalist Mangan Klavborn and drummer Michael Hakansson of Evergrey (he's been replaced for the new album). Together, the Swedish group embraced their melodic death metal and hard rock history to create a modern metal debut that helped give them a solid start. Now, with their second album finished, Threnody delves further into melodic death metal territory, drawing on influence from Threat Signar and early Soilwork with a mix of melodic hard rock from bands such as Linkin Park to create an energetic, majestic album.
The key to this album is catchiness. Every song has been structured for a harmonic guitar output to be matched by the aggressive vocals. "Six Feet Deep" starts out with an industrial beat before ripping vocals in the vein of Soilwork tear up the music and the guitars shred along with the synth. At some point, the vocals go clean for a soothing, yet still aggressive blend that isn't wishy-washy or whining. The industrial elements are mostly present throughout the track as dance beats and samples, but they don't overtake the guitars, which provide thick, chugging riffs along with the drums that will certainly induce headbanging. "For Those Who Will Resist" is more 'metal aggressive' and doesn't have as much harmony as the other tracks, but still rocks, especially when the clean vocals come in. This is more of the typical mainstream melodic death metal that one would hear at Headbanger's Ball, but fortunately it isn't overly clichéd or too generic. "Feed the Week" is very groove oriented with its beat laden harmonies combined with the screaming vocals. The guitars eventually make their way in and provide plenty of melody that chugs and pulls. However, it is clear that the industrial elements guide the music here.
"To The End" slows things down a bit by letting the clean vocals take command in this almost fully acoustic track. It's very harmonic, even during the electrified parts, and takes from the best of modern rock such as Breaking Benjamin or recent In Flames. This most likely will become the popular hit played on radios. The Soilwork influence can be seen on tracks like "Down" and the title track "Threnody." The screams take a different tone, the guitars are more thrash oriented, and even the opening melodic part sounds like something from Soilwork's Natural Born Chaos album. "Heartsick" trades aggression for slow, plodding repetitive chugs, and once again adds a new vocal range of lower, harmonized clean singing with an electronic tinge. Like "Feed the Weak," there is a lot of industrial and electronic melodies guiding the music.
"Burn" may sound like the typical melodic death, modern metal track, but the introductory guitar and throughout the verses sound more technical and fresh than usual. "Perfect Isis" is a very slow, moody track that drops all aggression and opts for soft, melodic guitar notes with drums a funeral march pace. Even the keyboards/ synth in the background seems funeral influenced. The vocals, for about the fourth time, show another range- this time low and gothic, akin to Ville Valo from HIM mixed with Chester B. of Linkin Park. This is another great hard rock tune that shows another side of Engel that isn't of the usual melodic death metal influences they sound like. It is actually very original and could set a new sound standard for the group.
For a second album, Engel are right on track. They continue to progress farther and farther into better territories, trying not to make the same album twice. Fans of the debut will either love or hate this album considering it delves from the original album, but Threnody only helps Engel, not hurt them. With such a diverse track list, the music will appeal to many, both melodic death metal and hard rock fans. It is a bit more mainstream this time around, but still very enjoyable to see that Engel have not really jumped on any 'bandwagon' as they continue to make their music better.
(Season of Mist/Riot! Entertainment)