Sweden’s ENGEL could be considered a ‘super group’ of sorts consisting of ex-members of THE CROWN in guitarist Marcus Sunesson, IN FLAMES (co-guitarist Niclas Englin), and EVERGREY (Bassist Mikael Håkansson). Drummer, Daniel “Mojjo” Moilanen formerly of LORD BELIAL and also PROJECT HATE, along with ex-HEAD PLATE vocalist Mangan Klavborn round out their impressive lineup.
The bands music is mostly based on Gothenburg style Metal similar to SOILWORK or IN FLAMES, but with added influences of Industrial Metal, Alternative Rock, and even some Emo (vocals) at times. The album begins fairly strongly with opening track “Next Closed Door” as Mangan forcefully screams his lines against the heavy guitar rhythms. Melodic choruses are later used while dissonant Post Rock guitar textures give the song a bit of an experimental/progressive feel. “Casket Closing” uses some more Industrial type electronic effects, but is otherwise a straight-ahead Melo-Death number. “The Hurricane Season” goes in a more commercial direction with further use of the electronics and somewhat Nu-Metal type vocals. In contrast, the quite good and heavier “Propaganda” races ahead at full speed with fast guitar riffing and more of the shouted style vocals.
“The Paraclete” marks a fairly significant stylistic departure using very clean vocals that lack any sort of edge and are almost New Wave in their delivery. Mangan does add some heavier vocals later in the song and the edgy guitar riffs partially help keep it from being completely at odds with the rest of the album. The following track “Scythe” is by far a punchier and more ‘Metallic’ number with both screamed and clean vocals as well as intense rhythms that all together happily reminded me quite a bit of Denmark’s MERCENARY. The album ends with a pair of heavier tracks “Calling Out” and “Seven Ends”.
ENGEL really seems to be at their best with the heavier arrangements which are certainly played with a ton of energy. Unfortunately, the more melodic songs or choruses can be so much of a departure that it often seems as if it’s an entirely different band that’s playing - as typified on the fairly dull track “Descend” with its whiny Emo vocals, and this ruins the listening experience to some extent.
The token electronic effects and Post Rock influences aside, my main critique is that the album flip-flops too much between the styles of Alternative Rock and Gothenburg Melo-Death. The combination doesn’t always sit to well with me, and even though the album has quite a few decent tracks, some of the others are a little to out of character to keep it being cohesive and fully enjoyable. Certainly, the strong Metallic pedigree of the band members would have led me to expect something with a little more consistency to it.
(Online May 9, 2008)