DECAYING - Encirclement (HELLTHRASHER - CD 2011)
For many reasons I missed the debut CD from this Finnish death metal combo called Decaying and while I regret not having a chance to listen to it, I also know that it’s not really too late yet as this album is still pretty easily available and so I’m sure I’m going to purchase a copy sooner or later (sooner probably hehe). But when Hellthrasher announced the release of the second CD of Decaying I just decided to buy it as quickly as I could as I’ve heard a lot of good opinions on it and the overall information on the band and this full length were very promising. I just had a premonition this music is going to nail me down to the floor, so here it is then… The CD titled “Encirclement”.
Well, I must admit that at the first listen I was slightly confused and disappointed with this album, as musically it wasn’t really what I exactly expected. I felt like the music is not aggressive and straight forward enough, it’s too mellow, even too melodic and lacks the uncompromising brilliance of many other old styled death metal bands of nowadays (in song "Operation Citadel" mainly). But with every next listen I got more and more possessed with those sounds and now I can say that “Encirclement” is bloody great album and Decaying truly belongs to my favourite Finnish bands of this era. Well, to describe the musical aspects of “Encirclement” I must of course force myself to compare Decaying to some other, better known bands, so you can get the picture of what they’re like. Well, at doing so I have several legends in my mind and first one to come is… Bolt Thrower! Fuck yeah, is there anyone who doesn’t love those British heralds of world wars? Decaying not only reminds me this bands because of their lyrical aspects, but also due to some similar type of mid paced, catchy and headbanger’s friendly riffing and the rhythms like in such tracks as "From the Cradle to the Grave", “Battle of the Somme” and “Conclusion”.
Then there are many similarities to the likes of Benediction, “Consuming Impulse” era Pestilence and also Asphyx (listen to the melodic guitar lead in “Conclusion”, this might have easily been composed by Eric Daniels hehe) and Hail of Bullets (also for the lyrics) plus some necessary Finnish ingredients of Adramelech. The whole album is mainly mid paced, with this style of riffing, which would combine the bands I just mentioned. Anyway, after the feeling of the mentioned lack of aggression of this album, after few listens I really felt like the music grows in me and may not be the most brutal death metal ever, but has incredible feeling and atmosphere, which are in advantage of Decaying. The riffs are really great, there are also some cool melodies, of which the one from “On the Path of Subjugation” is the best one and belongs to my favourite parts of the whole CD. The song structures are well and wisely thought through, but it may really surprise you sometimes as the length of the songs range from 4 up to even 10 minutes (“The Rising Sun”), with the average about 6 minutes, but despite it and the fact that the whole album is basically focused on mid or slow, doomy tempos, it doesn’t bore me at all. Of course 66 minutes of music may be a bit too much and maybe if it was just 50 minutes the final effect could have been better, but I don’t mind and definitely do not regret any minute spent with “Encirclement”. It’s just well played and composed death metal.
Then there are cool vocals of Matias Nastolin, who delivers a wide range of growling, mostly close to Karl Willets’ raspy and harsh growls but also including those, which sound 100% like they were done by Martin van Drunen or Patrick Mamelli. Hmm, I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone growling in such similar way to those two guys and I like it a lot, as I think they’re great vocalists and such way of growls fits Decaying music perfectly. On top of all that I must also mention cool production of “Encirclement”. All instruments (except the drums) were recorded at home (!), but they do sound fantastic and not amateurish at all, and also thanks to this production Decaying is able to deliver such gigantic and destructive riffs and feeling as Bolt Thrower or Hail of Bullets.
Finally the lyrics… Well, I’ve been quite interested in world wars since the past years and World War I is equally interesting as the second one, but somehow it’s not present in the metal lyrics as often. There are some exceptions from time to time, God Dethroned’s “Passiondale” and “Under the Sign of the Iron Cross” for instance and Decaying also wrote some killer texts for their album about it, which I’ve found as very interesting. Actually I just been reading a book by German writer Ernst Jünger, “In Stahlgewitter”, who was a veteran of World War I and participated in the fights for Somme for instance, which is also described on “Encirclement” in “Battle of the Somme” and of course the title of the album I think may refer to the trenches in which the soldiers spend months and months. Also one of the lyrics of the album, “The Rising Sun”, tells about the Pacific fights during the Second World War, while "Operation Citadel" and “On the Path of Subjugation” refer to the second of great wars but in Europe (for the years 1939-43), but I like the fact that “Encirclement” focused not just on one historical event, but a few.
All in all, I can easily recommend this album to everyone and I can assure you that if you feel like Bolt Thrower belongs to your favourite bands, Decaying music will speak to you in similar language. The value of this music is great and far more than just mediocre, but mind that it may take few listens before you’ll get possessed by it. And if the length of “Encirclement” does not scare you, then give those Finns a chance and buy the CD before it’s too late.
Standout tracks: “On the Path of Subjugation”, “Battle of the Somme”
Final rate: 82 / 100