Formed close to a decade ago, Turkish death metal band Engulfed has made a name for themselves with material that took influence from quite a few classic acts while still feeling dynamic enough to become more than a mere clone of what has come before. Despite being around for this long, the group has clearly focused on quality over quantity as with this year’s Vengeance of the Fallen EP they only have three releases to their name, but listening to the four-track effort it’s clear this time has been well-spent. Spread across twenty-five minutes the songs are sometimes lengthy but cover a lot of ground in that period of time, and with production values that give all the elements a chance to breathe while still not compromising on the bottom end of the sound Engulfed have reached new heights.
2017’s Engulfed in Obscurity was no slouch when it came to crushing heaviness and capturing that old-school sound, and while this has been continued on Vengeance of the Fallen to some degree it’s evident that the band has focused on different elements this time around. Some of that might be due to Dan Lowndes’ handiwork when it comes to mixing and mastering, but the guitar and bass tone has gotten a bit cleaner as well and each instrument is able to breathe a bit more. There’s a delicate balance between pummeling intensity and haunting melodies that remind me of Dead Congregation and Grave Miasma at times, and this also is displayed in the dynamic approach to writing that Engulfed showcases throughout the EP. Opener “Rites of Abandoned Heretics” is a perfect example, as even though it runs for just over eight minutes the material covers a lot of ground and has a natural progression between low-end blasting and ominous atmosphere, taking listeners on a journey from beginning to end while ensuring that the content remains interesting enough to justify the run-time. It’s this type of craftsmanship that makes Vengeance of the Fallen a noticeable step forward, as Engulfed hit that sweet spot between the brutality and murkiness of their 90s influences and the immense room-filling sound of newer bands like those mentioned earlier. Although the approach remains familiar, the denseness of the sound combined with the infectious nature of the guitar leads has kept specific passages in my head for several days and that’s not always easy to come by in modern death metal.
Engulfed’s vocals skew towards the lower end of the spectrum, coming through as growls that tower above the instrumentation and are well-suited to the type of immense and powerful sound that the band channels throughout the EP. This is a noticeable change from Engulfed in Obscurity where the growls and screams tended to get buried underneath the sheer volume of the guitars, but newfound the separation works to the band’s advantage as it allows the vocal work to gain even more intensity over the course of each song. While the pitch stays at around the same low-range for much of the run-time, rather than incorporating higher screams or yells like some of the other death metal bands of this type do, the way that the performance is spaced out keeps it from feeling one-dimensional or repetitive.
It’s clear that Engulfed has continued to grow and really focused on writing death metal that provides brutality and atmosphere while being dynamic enough to keep listeners entranced from beginning to end. The change in tone and the additional space between instruments has made it easier to make out all the individual nuances that drive this approach, and while they’re certainly not reinventing the hallmarks of the genre this is still the type of death metal that is likely to stick with you for some time to come. Powerful and haunting in equal capacity, this EP represents a significant leap forward for Engulfed and is another top-notch effort that’s snuck in right near the end of this year, so don’t let it pass you by. Vengeance of the Fallen is available from Me Saco Un Ojo Records and Dark Descent Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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