Spawned from the ashes of primal stalwarts Gravehammer, Ensnared are among the latest bretheren, cut from the mould of Swedish death metal. Following on from their self-titled demo, originally released during 2011, this new EP features an evolution of their sound… however, it is a subtle one.

Whilst the demo feature a raw and bestial quality, akin to the death metal juggernauts of yore (Altars-era Morbid Angel is a prime example), this new release is a step up in sound quality but, still raw and coherent. One could argue the case that a reasonable intake of black metal aesthetics have crept into the sound… but, this adds to the sound rather than detract from it. Additionally, with the presence of Master Motorsåg (Bestial Mockery, et al) on vocals, this seems to give the case some credence.

Though death metal is the name of the game here, there are some elemental thrash leanings… akin to old Sodom and Kreator (especially with the opening riffs of ‘With Roots Below’). Primitive death influences aside, the playing and atmosphere of this EP is impressive. One striking feature is the melodies and harmonies employed to give the razor riffing a nice balance of contrast. If you are thinking that this is another example of the bland melo-death that seems to rear its head periodically, then listening to this EP will set you straight. A nice balance of dynamics that, although present on the original demo, highlights the maturity of the songwriting and, in essence, has kicked up the performances and hatred a couple of notches.

Half of the tracks on this release are from the original demo (1 song from the demo on the vinyl, namely ‘Adorations’, which has been re-recorded plus 2 tracks for the CD version, lifted wholesale from the demo, and not re-recorded). ‘Adorations’ has been re-tooled significantly, and as a result, sounds more fitting as a compliment to the newer tracks. One major standout (for me) is the epic ‘The Hungry Darkness of Death’… a seething and lurching track that, for all its melodic sensibilities, has a crushing power at its core. A great amalgamation of thrash, death and black stylings which flow and does not sound out of place together… quality songwriting at its finest. A decent nod to death/black pioneers Dissection can be envisioned from this piece, especially from 04:26 onwards.

Musically and vocally, this EP cannot be faulted… the band’s vision of extremity has well and truly been thought out and executed proficiently. Of course, the influences are varied but, given time and more writing… maybe we can see a more unique entity that can blast out songs of the calibre that is ‘The Hungry Darkness of Death’.

Needless to say, Ensnared have improved significantly from their birth pangs of their self-titled demo… and with this new slab of raw and primal death, they stand to blaze a path of hellfire towards their objective… to reap souls and destroy the will of the weak. Listen at your peril… and become ensnared…

– Mik Annetts

Nuclear Winter Records
6 September 2013

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