Artist: Soul Embraced
Soul. Noun (if you can truly give it a part of speech). The soul is most commonly defined as the spiritual or immaterial part of an animal or person; however, it can also take on a slightly different meaning. Soul is often defined as the reservoir from which we, as humans, draw emotion and energy—a wellspring, if you will. The soul can also be described as the counterpoint or defining phenotype of an action or characteristic—the embodiment of that trait, so to speak. Aside from the obvious namesake, all of these definitions play an important role in aiding the listener in understanding and interpreting Soul Embraced, and their latest release, Mythos. Mythos is an album that combines unfathomable amounts of spiritual influence with human energy and emotion to create a stunning coalescence of throat punching hardcore and grinding, technical, thrash and death metal. In this respect, Soul Embraced have not only created a soul-filled album, but an album which is the soul of each aspect of its many, eclectic influences.
Mythos garners an enormous amount of its frenetic and heart-thumping energy from the incessant shredding and furious fretwork of the guitars. At times, the strings provide visceral, riffs one might expect to hear on a classic thrash metal album—grinding, straightforward and fast-paced licks like those heard on the introductory segment of “They Live, We Sleep” or scattered throughout “Awaken the Catalyst.” These styles of riffs seem to leap out and attack the listener in the beginning of the album, and, indeed the beginning of those tracks, as if to completely catch the listener off guard when Soul Embraced take a sudden turn into the realms of more modern metallic styles. Again, “Awaken the Catalyst” serves as an ideal example, as does “Transhuman” and “Perversion of the Cross.” These tracks begin with thrashy, punctual riffs and simple, fast-paced drumming but quickly change shape. “Awaken the Catalyst” rapidly picks up the pace and attacks the listener with Mach-speed blast beats and jarring, tremolo picked riffs. “Transhuman” functions to a similar effect, as if a revolving door, continuously shuttling the listener between the domains of thrash metal and technical death metal.
Then, of course, there’s the breakdown.
Soul Embraced are far from a traditional deathcore outfit with an abundant overuse of the chug-based breakdown. However, once—or twice, depending on the length—per song, Soul Embraced drop from their fast paced and technically infused high-life into the gutter of sheer, spine-splitting heaviness. “Transhuman” makes a punctual use of the breakdown as a sort of chorus, while “Perversion of the Cross” is simply heavy; no ifs, ands or buts. Segments like these make relatively routine appearances on Mythos, constantly reminding the listener of the band’s unmistakable hardcore and metalcore influences.
When Soul Embraced aren’t focused on obliterating the listener, however, they excel at creating marvelous amounts at doom metal and pseudo-sludge influence atmosphere. “Like A Corpse” features a mid-section and closing sequence which draws straight from the band’s penchant for ethereal and haunting atmospheres alike, while the closing track, “The Invocation” is an instrumental track which is simply full-to-bursting with technically marvelous, albeit haunting musicianship. These moments of rest are like a thick coat of fog after a monsoon—sure, the storm is over, and the listener is alive, but there is still a palpable sense of foreboding and fear. In this respect, the listener is capable of getting chills down their spine during every second of Mythos—whether it’s from the prickling intensity of the thrashy riffs, the goosebumps from the haunting atmosphere, or the numb sensation as their spine is completely ripped out by sheer brutality.
These elements come together in concentrated forms to create a multifaceted and intense effort from Soul Embraced. Indeed, the band shows veritable mastery of each style they have chosen to include on Mythos. “Luciferian Alliance” and “Perversion of the Cross” demonstrate the fine-tuned ability of the band to create bone-bustingly heavy breakdowns and slams, while “They Live, We Sleep” and “Awaken the Catalyst” display Soul Embraced’s mastery of technical and intricate music. Finally, “Transhuman” is an all-inclusive epic of a track which fully illustrates the band’s ability to flow between haunting doom and sludge into quick-and-pissed hardcore and death metal. This high attention to instrumental supremacy leaves the listener wanting in only one area—the vocals. Where the instrumentation is rarely out of place and almost always dead-on, several times on Mythos, the vocals seem half-hearted and simply do not mesh with the environment crafted by the music around them. “They Live, We Sleep” gets off to a rocky start in this manner, and “Heartbroken Reaper” features a vocal performance which, in comparison to the rest of the album, just seems sloppy. Furthermore, at times where the instrumentation undergoes a massive shift—from light(er) and atmospheric to dense and crushing, for example—the vocals remain unchanged. While this isn’t always a bad thing, there are times throughout Mythos where the listener might find themselves craving variety. For those times, however, the listener does find salvation in tracks “Like a Corpse” and “Luciferian Alliance,” both of which feature a welcome change in vocal stylings.
Without the soul, music would be nothing—there would be no emotion behind its crafting and no feeling behind its reception. In this aspect, Soul Embraced have paid nothing but the utmost attention to blend feeling and musical mastery to create a release which the listener will surely find solace in. Even though the vocals may get grating, the instrumentation is so filled with passion and power, that whether in it for the hints of doom, sludge, technicality or heaviness, the listener will find something to keep them coming back for listen after listen.
For Fans Of: Right to the Void, Naera, Sepultura, Nile, Dark Sermon
By: Connor Welsh