The border between Death Metal and its Tech counterpart is a constantly shifting boundary. With each band who delves into both fields able to define this border in their own image with varying and divergent amounts of success.
The level of victory all depends on the veracity with witch the band in question are able to channel the correct emphasis from the facets they select from each genre. Embodiment, on this their debut LP, have managed to pay homage to what makes each style exciting without sounding clichéd or limited in their approach.
Their approach to riffing is emphatically Techish in its modality. The majority of their riffs having a delightfully rigid structure, with a terse separation between phrases that really delineates the punch of each pattern. This being said, they also allow the battered and bloody tonal drift of death metal to give their guitar parts greater scope.
This is a vital component in what made this collection such an exciting find, because simply stated, there are a lot of riffs on this record. And the depth of influence; I detected undertones as varied as Pantera, Periphery, Vale of Pnath and even Merciful Fate; was vital in providing sufficient variety to instil a distinct character in each riff.
Tempo wise, they never really reach the kind of face stretching velocity that a lot of modern Death Metal achieves. But from a prog perspective, they play noticeably fast and are unafraid to shift gears within a phrase to allow various elements of its personality to come into focus.
It is a real delight that the drums on this record sound palpably real and powerfully played. Having been fooled on multiple occasions by Superior Drummer (other magical drum programs are also available), I have grown immensely skeptical of praising the drumming on records. But this time I will be brave and say that I found the playing to be both inventive and visceral, linking tightly with every other component in the music, and driving the momentum of songs as well as providing a pleasingly jagged syncopation.
The vocals stick predominantly to a flat throated guttural mode and although limited to this style they provide a slightly campy, knowing sense of menace. While not a stand-out performance, they suit the dichotomous nature of the music by providing a thematic continuity which gives the music license to spiral and contort.
The songs on Embodiment are jaunty and full of joie d'Metal, well as much as they can be on such a glossy, dark and brooding record. Such a quality really helps drive the songs forward with a celebratory shimmy which is both enjoyable and to be greatly admired.
These positive qualities being noted, I must confess that I found that the record was lacking that indefinable Factor X which lifts good and interesting work into the realm of the exceptional. I found different things to enjoy each time I listened to it, but repeatedly experienced myself yearning for something extra to really make me kvel. It is groove laden and brooding but lacks the pervasive and undulating danger to take it to the highest level of attainment.
But, fuck my words and their provocatively tricksy dance, I highly recommend you give this album a listen and make your own mind up.
– John Whitmore