Death: An Anthology

MNRK Heavy
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Abyss
02. Face of Fear
03. The Reaper's Servant
04. Spineless
05. King of Ruination
06. Casket of Rust
07. I, Divine
08. Malevolent Force
09. Accelerated Demise
10. Blood And Teeth
11. Curse Of Flesh

After a decade spent paying their dues and working harder than most to push deathcore forward, ENTERPRISE EARTH have reached a watershed moment. The departure of vocalist and co-founder Dan Watson brought a halt to the Spokane crew's first chapter. "Death: An Anthology" starts another, with a new vocalist in tow, Travis Worland, and, more importantly, a fresh perspective on their ground-breaking efforts to date. From their 2015 debut album "Patient 0" onwards, ENTERPRISE EARTH were always a class act and one of deathcore's most reliably inventive bands.

By the time they made "The Chosen" (2022),  there were clearly some musical conundrums being solved behind the scenes, seemingly leading to a greater emphasis on melodic elements and a faint whiff of crossover fever. It was a fantastic record, nonetheless, and cemented the band's status as one of the scene's hottest and most likely to succeed. A bold but almost certainly irresistible move, "Death: An Anthology" jettisons a lot of the compromises and commercial elements that may have alienated some long-time fans last time. Instead, this is partly a return to the outright savagery of early records, and partly a new line drawn in the sand, as ENTERPRISE EARTH evolve beyond deathcore's original and updated blueprints, and become the terrifying, highly evolved monster they always threatened to be.

It begins with a strange wash of treated vocals, before the first riff kicks in and a dramatic, pomp-metal overture unfolds. When first song proper "Face Of Fear" starts up, the urge to pull a contorted stank face is overwhelming. Led by the barbaric vocals of new frontman Travis Worland, ENTERPRISE EARTH have rediscovered the malicious streak that made "Patient 0" so potent and vital. Melodic vocals remain an essential part of the formula, but where songs from "The Chosen" were unashamed and precocious in their desire to reach a bigger audience, Worland's cleans are woven artfully into the overall attack; a progressive weapon, as opposed to a commercial one. On "The Reaper's Servant", he is a snarling militant, locked in with the machine-gun riffs and mutant breakdowns. Brimming with old-school metal flair but delivered with contemporary precision, it's a blur of askance melodies and scattershot riffing, with a magnificent speed metal blitzkrieg section thrown in for free.

Aside from producing their heaviest material to date, ENTERPRISE EARTH are also having a lot of fun here. The slow riffs are slower and more disgusting than ever before; the fast bits are faster and more incensed. But perhaps the greatest revelation here is that "Death: An Anthology" is also the most sophisticated, cohesive and complete record that this band have ever made. Showcasing an unexpected gift for epic malevolence, longer, more ambitious songs like "Spineless" and "Casket of Rust" are quite beyond anything that ENTERPRISE EARTH have attempted in the past. Bulging with neck-snapping twists and turns, "Spineless" is progressive death metal brought screaming into the future. "Casket Of Rust" is a raging blizzard of symphonic death metal, with cinematic dynamics, slickly intricate guitar work from Gabe Mangold, and another perfectly balanced vocal from Worland. Deathcore's well-worn trademarks are little more than a spectral presence: this is heavyweight modern metal, with a soul as black as pitch and zero interest in your genre requirements. On "King of Ruination", the cerebral grind of MESHUGGAH is casually assimilated into the mix, gleefully warping any sense of normality; the atypically succinct assault of "I Divine" still harbors endless surprises and changes of mood and pace.

"Death: An Anthology" continues to become heavier and more epic as it reaches its devastating climax. "Malevolent Force" is a mad-eyed incitement to violence with a grimly gothic chorus and black metal blasts shrouded in a choral fog. "Accelerated Demise" is simply wild: the instrumental tech-metal pizazz of RACER-X and JOE SATRIANI transplanted to the deathcore realm and given a strenuous and severe beating. In stark contrast, "Blood And Teeth" begins life as a soft focus alt-rock ballad, before ENTERPRISE EARTH's instincts kick in and another pitiless avalanche of riffs extinguishes every last shred of light. Worland delivers the song's bittersweet, melodic hook and fervently proggy breakdown, leading listeners down a dark alley towards another excruciatingly vicious breakdown, and the effect is bewildering and immersive in equal measure. The closing "Curse Of Flesh" — anthemic, grandiose, righteously berserk — is deathcore's most epic moment since the last LORNA SHORE album, and solid evidence that ENTERPRISE EARTH are destined for a similar level of acclaim and popularity. They definitely fucking deserve it. "Death: An Anthology" is truly extraordinary.

Author: Dom Lawson
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