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Speeding and bleeding over substance - 65%

autothrall, August 3rd, 2011

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.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com