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Enshadowed have released three full-lengths so far and every single album is different from every other one. But this does not constitute a serious reason for concern. The discography of this volatile band is not characterised by a lack of elaborateness. Having this in mind, let´s take a close look on their works while starting - not very original, I know - with the debut "Messengers of the Darkest Dawn".
The album was kicked off by a twenty second intro that consisted only of some strange noises. Perhaps I am too old, but from my point of view, this kind of opening does not make any sense. Well, let´s simply overlook this detail and put the focus on the music. These Greek debutants were not immune to the usual teething troubles. Accordingly, their songs were heavily influenced by the works of the Nordic black metal scene. The title of the fifth track, "Northbound", documented this impressively. But Enshadowed did not care about this. They made no secret of their affinity to the Scandinavian "elite". Especially the albums of Immortal had left their traces. Just as an exception, the hypnotic beginning of the final number was obviously inspired by the calmer songs of Burzum. The part with the simple keyboard melody was definitely in very close proximity to the trance-like pieces of the strange count.
However, from a general perspective, Enshadowed did not present a copycat product. They had written predominantly good and fairly independent riffs that did not lack of morbidity. Furthermore, the sinister guitar lines and the desperately sounding breaks were also convincing while the vocal performance was nothing to write home about. The hatefully nagging voice fitted well with the dark instrumental aura of the album. Most of all, this atmosphere was created by the strong and memorable mid-tempo parts. No question, the surprisingly ripe band knew how to manage tempo changes in order to create thrilling compositions.
Unfortunately, there was one thing missing. The songs did not really have a sustainable effect. Due to this fact, it was a bit difficult to define the album´s highlights. Enshadowed did not deliver an outstanding song, but, more importantly, they avoided to offer half-baked or even dilettantish tunes. With a view to the coherent and homogeneous pieces, the record worked as a whole. I guess that this is not the worst statement one can make about a full-length. The maturity of the compositions came as a positive surprise. Therefore, this album did not lack of quality and it offered a very good flow. I don´t think that worshipers of genuine black metal will feel the urgent need to press the skip button while listening to this full-length. This is also valid because its sound was neither rumbling nor thin. It was well balanced between its specific obscurity and a conventional metallic robustness.
As a result, "Messengers of the Darkest Dawn" competently followed the way that the grim Scandinavian pioneers had discovered. Maybe you share my opinion that debutants have the right to show their influences without restraint. In this case, you will enjoy to listen to this relatively uninventive yet exciting album.
Enshadowed were a fairly productive band in the underground through the late 90s, releasing a demo each year from 1998-91 as 'Nocternity Enshadowed', obviously dropping the former due to the fellow Greek black metal of the same name. So they took their sweet time refining their musical ability and production standards, and then ultimately adopting a logo which looks nary a spitting image of the one used by Belgium's Enthroned. I mean, seriously, would it have killed them to do a little research before choosing that design? Seems like a lazy and illogical choice, especially when one considers that the Greek band sounds somewhat similar in style.
At any rate, the band's considerable practice almost pays off on their debut Messengers of the Darkest Dawn, because if anything, this is a very solid album, with strong and hyperkinetic drumming that easily drives the wall of force guitars, and massive, resonant rasping that delivers upon the grim promise of the shadowy cover image. They also concoct a few cool, clinical riffing sequences in "War and Damnation" and "Jesus Christ Cage" which hint that the band might fare better if they spent just an inkling more time composing their songs. There's even one creepy, melodic passage that opens the closer "Gospel of Death" which is damn near brilliant, gleaming and ghostly synthesizers moving in slower paced tandem with the dissonant ringing guitars, but sadly this eventually devolves into messy, blasting noise.
Alas, that 2-3 minutes of the album in total is the exception to the rule here, for the majority of Messengers is little more than a competent retread of grounds previously covered by bands like Marduk, Dark Funeral, Satyricon and the aforementioned Enthroned. There's not a lot of rhythmic variation in what they write, so you have to feed off the sheer power and speed alone, and while the drummer 'Grahelm' really knows what's up, and the guitars all perform with a studied precision, they're just not that interesting. The lyrics all revolve around the familiar anti-Christian or archaic, north European passions (i.e. "Northbound"), and the atmosphere invoked is efficiently bleak and hostile, but they never quite reach the ripping and maniacal despotism inherent in a Vobiscum Satanas, or a Panzer Division Marduk. Another case of just about every base being covered except for the lion's share of the songwriting.