F U L L . R E V I E W S
I've been a fan of Niclas Engelin for more than a decade. He has made up a good portion of the Swedish melodic death scene over the years, playing for Gardenian in the late 90s. That band released three albums and had a natural progression into more industrial and synth patterns on their third album "Sindustries" in 2000. Engelin then teamed with Anders Friden (In Flames) in 2003 with Passenger, another Swedish act that nodded their heads towards more industrial melodies. Engelin filled in briefly with In Flames in absence of Glenn Ljungström in 1998 and then four other times during Jesper Strombland's personal issues before becoming his full time replacement in 2010.
Engel was formed by Engelin and Magnus Klauborn (The Crown) in 2005. The group released their first album, "Absolute Design", in 2007 for SPV. The band recorded the follow-up "Threnody" in 2008 but due to label conflicts the album did not surface until 2010 via Trooper Entertainment in Japan. The album was later released through Season Of Mist in Europe and the US. Now the band have teamed with Tue Madsen and his Ant Farm Studios in Denmark for their best record to date in "Blood Of The Saints".
It's really interesting to hear the natural progresson of Engelin. The industrial mechanics certainly becoming a mainstay in his bands since 2000. His involvement in In Flames came around the same time that Friden and company changed their sound from melodic death to a more intricate pattern of modern grooves laced with electronics. That sort of mentality is really the backbone of "Blood Of The Saints". Tue Madsen and Engelin really stock this album with loads of electronics and industrial shifts while maintaining the same sort of melody and hooks that have made In Flames a successful act.
Songs like "Down To Nothing" and "Numb" are dead ringers for In Flames. As much as I would like to compare this stuff to other acts the melody and sweeping grooves are bar none In Flames era mid-2000s. The grooves and melody reminds me of tracks like "Trigger" and "My Sweet Shadow" from the mid era of In Flames. But not everything here is reminiscent of one band. Engel is really monumental in their efforts to combine crunchy rhythm with synthetic sounds and Tue Madsen's mammoth engineering skills brings it all to life to the most intricate detail. The band fires it up on thrashy number "Frontline", searing melody and tight knit crunchy rhythm permeated by a real clean chorus (reminds me of Trivium's "Anthem"). That same sort of tight rhythm can be found on "Cash King", almost like Impelliterri with soaring leads and a clean melodic chorus. The trigger effects used about three minutes into the song are really innovative with the constant start and stop (opposite of bands like Fear Factory and Vader). "Feel Afraid" is brimming over with down tuned riffs that sway and move like Dark Tranquility. Something slightly different for the album is "One Good Thing", a goth number that has a ton of keys, slower riffs and more emotional clean singing. Vocalist Magnus Klauborn remains fixed throughout the album with a deeper register that borders on growling but focuses intently on clean singing.
I think Engel's popularity will increase based on the merit of this record. The band has already been exposed throughout 2012 with numerous festival appearances and a package tour with Paradise Lost, Samael and Katatonia. The band lost vocalist Magnus Klauborn this Fall and his replacement has yet to be announced. Let's hope the band continues the strive for excellence and Englin continues to be a force in Sweden's evolving scene. I recommend Engel for fans of Pain, In Flames and Dark Tranquility.
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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