Artist: Enterprise Earth
When it comes to the vast (and steadily growing) population of our planet, more people than not identify with a religion. They may not attend mass every Sunday or worship regularly, but they place their faith in a prophet (or prophets) and answer to one God or another. They carry out their lives this way, day in and day out.
When something bad happens, they pray—because God wills it.
When something good happens, they pray—because God made it so.
They spend their lives assuming that whatever prophets descend from the aether are there due to divine bidding—that they’re there to propagate the forces of good and benevolent deities. This is based more or less on experience, because he prophets preached about in many major religions are just that—messengers carrying stories of grace, forgiveness and redemption.
That changes with Enterprise Earth’s sophomore full-length album, Embodiment.
Enter the prophet of pestilence and violence. Let loose plague and poison among mankind.
Embodiment is just that—a surge of savage, scathing and scorching aggression sweeping over the heavy community and infecting every set of ears that let it inside. To call it simply technical is to ignore the moments of pure punishment it inflicts—yet to focus simply on its more aggressive aspects ignores the incredible song structure and moments of rare-yet-mentally rejuvenating melody it presents. In short, Embodiment takes everything good about the band’s groundbreaking debut full-length and makes it great—a technical, heavy and harmonious tour-de-force that anyone who likes heavy music must hear.
Sometimes, it suffices to say a band has matured from their previous sound. And where members of Spokane skull-splitters Enterprise Earth might think maturation fits the bill to describe their evolution from Patient 0, the truth is that it doesn’t. To say the band have “matured” would imply their previous sound was immature—which is most certainly wasn’t—and it would also imply a marked stylistic departure from one of 2015’s strongest releases to Embodiment, which also isn’t entirely true. Enterprise Earth are simultaneously more focused, yet more complex and comprehensive in their incorporation of various metallic styles into their intricate breed of technical deathcore. Percussionist Aaron O’Toole is tremendously talented in just about every sub genre of metal-and-core employed by the quintet. “Shroud of Flesh” sees him blending atmosphere and pointed speed and aggression—while “Serpentiform” favors O’Toole’s more delicate and subtle styling, just as “Mortem Incarnatum” and “Temptress” are both lacerating from start to finish. O’Toole is devious in his display of percussive talents, going from oppressive and speedy one moment to slower, yet more punctual and precise, the next. This is compounded by bassist Gordon McPherson, whose slinking low tones add to O’Toole’s ability to transition hither and to among his various talents, all the while adding a dynamic low-end to serve as a foundation and anchoring point for both the band’s driving and energetic percussion and the furiously fretted riffs, solos, grooves and breakdowns provided by guitarists BJ Sampson and Yusef Johnson. Chief songwriter and master of all things technical and abrasive, Sampson dominates every track of Enterprise Earth’s Embodiment—with Johnson at his side, of course. Together, the duo create scintillating segments of technically fueled beauty on “Temptress” and “Never Forgive, Never Forget” just as well as they reign supreme with ruthless breakdowns on “Shroud of Flesh” and “Mortem Incarnatum,” and finally the subtle segments of ethereal atmosphere and figurative intermission on “Embrace the Ashes.” Since the band’s first assault on our planet with 23, Sampson has been pushing Enterprise Earth more and more with every new second he writes—and with Johnson at his stead and O’Toole and McPherson paving the way ahead, it would appear that the group have, at long last, transcended mere “skill,” embracing songwriting and structural perfection to arrive at the crossroads of mastery and excellence.
To speak of excellence is, once more, to speak of the legendary and almost-universally revered talents of frontman Dan Watson. At the time of Patient Ø’s release, Watson was a member of deathcore’s vocal elite—that hasn’t changed. Even with the addition of more world-class vocalists into the upper-end tiers of the genre’s vocal hierarchy, Watson’s voice remains distinct, possessing both range and stamina that few others can even dream of—and fewer still can match. Where Patient Ø may not have seen Watson’s best lyrics (with the exception of tracks like “Amid Vultures” and “Porcelain Whore”), Embodiment sees that change immensely. Engaging and immersive without verging too heavily into the unnecessarily grotesque, Watson’s lyrics move closer to matching his peerless vocal abilities throughout Embodiment, which, in many ways, picks up trends and stories touched upon in the band’s previous works. “Never Forgive, Never Forget” sees Watson’s lyrics taking a mildly heartfelt turn, mimicking elements of “Porcelain Whore” and feeling the closest to a direct “sequel” the album truly possesses in comparison to its predecessor. Meanwhile, “Black Earth” is Watson’s lyrics at their most eerie and foreboding, while “Cruciform” and “Deathwind” are pure evil—a plague of syllables and consonants serving as a death knell to the listener’s less profane sensibilities. To discuss Watson’s vocal talents on their own is, frankly, of little merit; those familiar with the band or with any of Watson’s work know of his incredible talent, energy, endurance and emotive capability—and those who aren’t will learn more quickly by listening to one song than they could reading fifty paragraphs. The point is this: some vocalists don’t deserve the praise heaped upon them, but Watson is not one of them.
Enterprise Earth are the best aspects of technical death metal blended with the best aspects of deathcore and eerie, atmospheric moments that segue into portions of punishing heaviness and scathing shred both. There are countless cliches one could use to sell them to a heavy music newcomer: they’re tech deathcore for people who don’t like tech deathcore or they’re like a “more mature” Rings of Saturn or dude remember the first Infant Annihilator album? It’s THAT guy’s band!
All of those are little more than trite understatements when it comes to all that this sinister quintet truly have to offer. Seconds short of fifty minutes of fury and flawless instrumentation with comprehensive and creative song structure, Embodiment embodies all that it means to be a refreshing and original-sounding band in a time where it feels like everything has already been done. Picking up hot off the heels of one of 2015’s best albums, and one of technical deathcore’s overall strongest releases, Embodiment seems to do the impossible, allowing Enterprise Earth to continue their upward trend, making both its predecessor and the efforts of the band’s peers seem like trinkets, condemning the listener to a fate of perverse and painful death at the hands of a practically perfect amalgam of all things technical, atmospheric and horrendously heavy.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Nexilva, Aversions Crown, Boris the Blade
By: Connor Welsh