Album Review: Ænigmatum — “Deconsecrate”

A famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all of the endless combinations of words in all of history, the most beautiful phrase is “cellar door.”  Well, I don’t know who that guy was but he’s wrong and stupid.  The most beautiful combination of words in any language is “bass solo” and no, I will not be fielding any questions or criticism.  Don’t believe me?  You obviously need to be listening to more Ænigmatum, then.  Deconsecrate is chock full of the aforementioned good stuff, but that’s not the only thing that you’ll find pleasing to the ears.

Deconsecrate marks the Portland, OR, foursome’s sophomore full-length, hot on the heels of their self-titled debut that caused a lot of good stirring in the death metal scene, and for good reason.  A mind-melting blend of technicality, melodicism and brutality, the album established in one fell swoop just what a force to be reckoned with these gentlemen are.  While the band could have simply turned everything up to eleven and went faster, louder and more technical, Deconsecrate seeks to take everything that made their debut awesome and distill it before refining it into the best possible release the band could possibly put out.  Is it heavy?  Absolutely.  Is it fast?  You bet, but according to the band themselves, “…speed is never a crutch to be relied upon but rather one deliberate device in a sprawling collection of melodically precise and technically riveting fragmented death shards.”  Whereas some bands go with speed and technicality for their own sakes (and, for the record, I find nothing wrong with that), Ænigmatum use it as means to an end, one that expertly blends whip-furious blast beats, frigid cold riffs, delicate melodies, ambient dissonance, and yes, a lot of finger-shredding bass work, courtesy of Brian Rush, who also happened to engineer most of the album.  Rather than trying to do too much, the band takes measured doses of everything that works and blends it into one cohesive canvas of blistering death metal.

Deconsecrate’s real triumph is in just how much fun it is to listen to.  I can, and am going to at length, talk about all the requisite technical achievements and craftsmanship on display here, but I implore you to just listen to opening track and advance single “Forged in Bedlam” and try to resist banging your head along.  I don’t think it’s possible to ignore just how cool it is, and it’s the strength of this single alone that made me go back and check out their debut as well as be in a state of near-constant anticipation for this release.  Of course, the bass is the drawing point (at least for me), but there’s plenty here to enjoy beyond that.  “Disenthralled” sees the band drawing from some more progressive influences, in an almost jazzy way, and “Fracturing Proclivity” features shades of Gothenburg melodeath before pulling apart at the seams and making way for more atonal cuts like “Larker, Sanguine Phantom” and closer “Animus Reflection.”  From listening to Deconsecrate a few times, it is easily apparent that there was a lot of thought and attention to detail put into these songs as compositions, not strictly vehicles for technical prowess.  Ænigmatum are poised to be a part of the next generation of great death metal ala titans and relative household names like Blood Incantation and Voidceremony.

It might sound like I was joking, and maybe I was having a little bit of fun, but it can’t be overstated how much the bass contributes to an album like Deconsecrate.  It gives this album a truly unique sound and a place in the scene, and it’s just damn cool to see.  Embrace it, find the beauty and you too can see the truth of the bass solo.

-Ian


Deconsecrate will be available August 13 on 20 Buck Spin.  For more information on Ænigmatum, visit their Facebook page.

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