May 7, 2018 Engel – Abandon All Hope (Album Review)
Prepare to lose yourself to the dark side! Swedish Melodic Death Metal phenoms Engel are ready to return after four lengthy years, Friday, May 11, 2018, with Abandon All Hope thanks to Gain Music Entertainment/Sony Worldwide.
Engel arrived on the infamous Gothenburg, Sweden Metal scene in 2005. By 2007, they were making their label debut with Absolute Design in Europe (North America would not see the album for another year), then following it up with successive releases – 2010’s Threnody, 2012’s Blood of Saints, and 2014’s Raven Kings. With Founding Members Niclas Engelin (of In Flames) and Marcus Sunesson (formerly of The Crown) at the helm, Engel has survived lineup changes and over a decade in the industry, touring across the world and sharing stages with everyone from Dimmu Borgir to Amon Amarth.
Now ready to unleash their celebratory fifth full-length studio offering, Engel – Vocalist Mikael Sehlin, Founding Member/Guitarist Sunesson, Bassist Steve Drennan, Drummer Oscar Nilsson, and Founding Member/Musical Director Engelin – are preparing fans to Abandon All Hope (but not really). The 11-song collection goes heavy on melody, turning its head on the Metal meets Industrial roots of the band’s earliest days. Instead, Abandon All Hope sees Engel picking up where Raven Kings left off, refining and streamlining their sound, and going even deeper into the trenches of soaring melodiousness. Think “My Dark Path” and you will be headed in the right direction, sonically speaking.
Abandon All Hope begins with pulsating synths that build into “The Darkest Void,” where pulsating infectiousness is baked into the explosive, hook-laden assault. Delicious bass pounding provides the backbeat for “The Legacy of Nothing,” a melodic showcase of Sehlin’s soaring, phenomenally gritty vocals. Meanwhile, there is a frenetic, Punk-pace at the core of the melodic “Book of Lies,” a glance at the lies we tell ourselves while blindly trying to survive.
Thereis a beautiful symphonic element to “As I Fall,” a massive multi-layered sound that expresses a perfectly relatable sentiment. Next, they soar toward the Metal heavens on “Buried,” an impressive gasp for breath that promises that, unless we change our wicked ways, the final curtain call is upon us. Similarly, they go massive on the pummeling, layered verses of “Untouchable,” a jackhammering slaughter that leads to melodic, soaring choruses.
Sehlin owns it vocally on the soaring choruses of “Death Reversed,” while the band fires on all cylinders for the melodic explosion of “Across the Abyss.” Then they return to the massive, multi-layered synth-flavors on “Gallows Tree,” a dark stomp through the emotional. Speaking of emotions, as close to a power ballad as Engel are going to get, “Abandon All Hope” is a beautifully glittering expanse complete with one marvelous guitar solo. Fortunately, for album closer “The Condemned,” they return to the jackhammering explosion and once again forewarn that we need to change our wicked ways.
On Abandon All Hope, Engel provide lyrics that are socially-aware and turn an observant eye toward our inherently human flaws, forewarning that change is inevitable or we will be forced to, ahem, abandon all hope. Both on a personal and a societal level. Ultimately, however, it’s all about the music and the sound here is fully melodic despite being blistering Metal, proving that Engel always have a keen ear for scrumptious melodies and killer guitars. The end result is a collection that runs the gamut and drafts an infectious new set of tracks to add to the already storied Engel oeuvre. Horns up, heads banging, CrypticRock give Engel’s Abandon All Hope 4 of 5 stars.