Following the release of Engraved Disillusion’s 2011 release ‘Embers of Existence’, there were a few upheavals within the UK metalcore band’s ranks. Parting ways with vocalist Chris Pugsley and bassist Matt Thomas left the band at a potential loss – parting ways with band members is often hard, but to lose a vocalist can be extremely difficult – but some excellent new blood was eventually injected into Engraved Disillusion’s ranks with the addition of Matthew William Mead and Aaron Preston. These new members, as well as being more than up to the task of tackling the band’s older material, have very much helped a move forward with the inclusion of both throaty and clean vocals, giving the band a broader appeal than before. Also, having noted producer and musician Karl Groom (best known for his work with progressive metallers Threshold and neo-prog supergroup Shadowland) on board for their second release has boosted their profile, not to mention given ‘The Eternal Rest’ a superb sound.
Things get off to a very atmospheric start with the band showing off their more progressive influences with ‘Life Is…’, an instrumental number acting as an extended intro. Over the sounds of stormy waters, a piano tinkles and a clean guitar chips in intermittently, thus piquing the listeners’ interest, since it doesn’t really do much more, until – boom – the opening chord of ‘Embrace The Flames’ crashes in with a real intent. Within a few bars, it’s obvious these guys really mean business: the dual guitars bring a dirty tone in the rhythm department, though there’s a huge amount of melody on show too, particularly the case in the lead, where cleaner tones collide to add plenty of old-school twin sounds. Very much like the excellent Trivium, Engraved Disillusion do a bang-up job in a bringing such styles screaming into the twenty first century. Vocally, there are times when it’s a little more hard going, especially with Mead’s preferred throaty delivery but once you’ve tuned into that, this opening number shows off the band’s talents admirably. Taking that blueprint, ‘Lost’ begins with even more heavy riffing, this time focusing on a choppiness, before blooming into an excellent slab of metalcore. The growling vocals retain their intensity but are just melodic enough to ensure the lyrics are audible before a cleaner vocal pitches in occasionally in a slightly crooned manner that recalls Mike Patton and early Mushroomhead – this marriage of voices covering a wide range of sounds, each one an integral part of the piece. While the melodies and lyrics are strong, it’s the lead guitar work that really shines as the extended solos occasionally fall closer in line with progressive metal with their combination of complexity and melodic edge. At the point the number feels as if its reached a natural end, a gentle coda allows a clean vocal to take centre stage – and the heartfelt style resting somewhere between Patton and ex-Killswitch mouthpiece Howard Jones is absolutely terrific. In six and half minutes, if ED haven’t won you over with this number, they probably never will.
Even though these first couple of tracks are so good, thankfully, it’s not like the album peaks too early, as the rest of the numbers are of almost equally strong standing, especially if you’re keen on a mighty riff and plenty of twin guitar. ‘Into Oblivion’ showcases some meaty guitar work throughout, complimented by a suitably heavy drum sound courtesy of Chris Threlfall whom, between bashing his snares with a superb amount of oomph, offers some equally hard hitting double bass work. Before clean vocals steer things towards the more melodic for the chorus and featured solo, there’s time for ED to showcase one of their heaviest riffs – in this case, a huge chugging beast that hints at groove metal – over which Mead drops his vocal pitch accordingly with a performance that tips the scales further towards Lamb of God. With the perfect balance between heaviness and melody, this is essential listening. While ‘Shadows Run Black’ doesn’t necessary break new ground, it certainly uses all of the band’s talents in an effective way. Mead brings a growl from the depths, while the bulk of the tune pulls its influence from a classic metalcore sound. Those looking for something more melodic will undoubtedly find listening pleasure during an extended instrumental break that pitches a impeccably played solo, while other sections of this complex number bring a few more old style metal tendencies to the fore.
‘No Tomorrow’, ‘Curse The Sorrow’ and ‘In Aeturnum’ stick to familiar musical themes – the latter’s use of staccato riffing particularly impressive, especially if you’re keen on a bit of eighties thrash – with each number showing ED to be a tight unit, but it’s the final pairing that really impresses. ‘Echoes From a Silent Sky’ – another instrumental track – kicks off with some lead bass courtesy of Preston before settling into a groove laden riff, topped with more twin leads than those elusive Iron Maiden instrumentals and a particularly nifty solo where Toby Stewart and Marc Matthews really gets to show off their combined skills. With a blanket of synths and a moody piano, the title cut brings things to a close by partially echoing the haunting qualities of the album’s intro, before a beautiful soaring guitar takes the lead. Even once a heavy chug begins to drive the piece, there’s no detracting from the brilliance of the lead work. Bringing in the vocal at such a late stage allows this to lean more towards the genuinely epic than most of the band’s material (bearing in mind there are no weak links here,that should give a sense of how good this really is). As with the previous instrumental, the guitarists are the real heroes, taking time between some surprisingly melodious vocal lines to drop in some terrific lead work. As the number reaches its end, more hushed and clean toned guitar lines weave their magic. While, perhaps, this closes the album on a rather sombre note, it’s very much a natural end and one that leaves the listener feeling rather contemplative.
Engraved Disillusion really are on blistering form throughout ‘The Eternal Rest’, especially keeping in mind that their getting to this point was no easy ride. This album features some world-class metalcore that never forgets the all important sense of melody as well as heaviness; the production is first rate and it is clear that a great deal of thought has gone into the final sequencing of the tracks. If this had been released via a well known metal label it would be impressive enough, but to think this was released without any label assistance whatsoever is astounding. Easily one of 2014’s most essential metal releases.