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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Engorged

Engorged

Review by Mike Korn

I haven't had this much fun since I put those kittens in a blender a few years back! I'd never heard of Engorged before this CD, but this bunch of West Coast sickos have put the "fun" back in death metal in a big way. By fun, I mean that you get the same feeling listening to these guys that you did when you leafed through those gory and nasty "Creepy" and "Eerie" comics when you were a kid or when you first saw "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". It's dirty, it's evil, it's revolting, but it's fun!

The thing that I loved about this record is that it is 58 minutes of pure death metal, but never once does it become monotonous or exhausting to listen to. So many of the modern death metal bands are so obsessed with being "technical" or blasting away at insane speeds with no let-up that they've forgotten how to make songs hooky and distinct. Engorged knows exactly how to do that, and they've reached back into the past. There's lots of 80's thrash riffs here, along with Anthrax-style shouted choruses and plenty of slower breakdowns. Classic gore bands like Carcass and Repulsion are way more of an inspiration than Krisiun or Cryptopsy. For God's sake, there are even touches of stoner rock here! It all makes for a memorable and interesting package.

Each member of the band contributes to vocals so that also spices things up. Main singer Dave Tentacle's voice is a sick "Poppa Smurf" kind of rasp but there's also low-toned growling, hoarse hardcore bellows and early Carcass style ultra-distorted gurgling. To be honest, the production is not what most modern death metallers will be used to, but that's also part of the charm. However, I do wish the drums would have had more kick, they sound like typewriters. The lyrics are 100% inspired by drive-in horror classics like "Eaten Alive" and "Road Warrior", as well as a weird obsession with the sinister COBRA organization that used to run riot in the old "G.I. Joe" cartoons. Hey, these guys are not to be taken all that seriously. As I said before, this is just fun stuff. "Engorged" is a killer (pun intended!) debut that comes highly recommended to all fans of old-school death metal! Now where did I put that chainsaw...?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
March of the Engorged
A classic quote from Roddy Piper and "They Live" starts things off. This instrumental intro has a kind of military feel and already the band's love of old 80's thrash riffs becomes apparent.
The Dreadnaught
An all-out barrage of deadly thrash-influenced riffing continues at a furious pace here. The tune reminds me of a cross between SOD and Repulsion, with plenty of those shouted "gang" choruses and vocal trade-offs between high and raspy and low and growly. This is a tune that is sure to incite a serious mosh pit!
It Came From Beyond
This one shows a bit more of an early 90's death metal influence, with more blasting speed and intricate guitar picking. There's still a slower doomy breakdown in the middle.
Cobra Rage
This is one of the record's monster cuts. Inspired by the goofy bad guys of "G. I. Joe", it's pure old school 80's death metal all the way, with memorable power chords. They hit a mosh riff at a little over the three minute mark that is just gigantic and then follow it up a minute later with a super catchy hardcore assault that continues without let up until the song ends. "Long Live COBRA!"
Eaten Alive
This is probably the most technical track on the record, played at high speed and switching time signatures fairly often. The cleanly shouted choruses don't fit so well with the song. This has its moments but is one of the lesser tracks.
Death Metal Attack 3
Really clever title - the pace is medium tempo here, but watch out in the last third because the band breaks into an honest-to-goodness Sabbath-influenced stoner rock jam. The tune sounds almost like it could be from an old Sleep album!
White Line Nightmare
Another epic in the style of "Cobra Rage", with much the same approach. It is a great collection of killer catchy riffs, starting out very speedy but then showing more of a catchy hardcore approach. The solos are completely rock-oriented, none of the cat-strangling you get with Krisiun or Cannibal Corpse. It's a song both as catchy and as heavy as hell!
Slithis
A bit more of a modern death metal tune, this is brief and features really guttural vocals all the way through. It has a pounding, macabre feel to it. Extra points to these guys for even seeing the obscure movie this is based on!
Shockwaves
Based on another classic 70's drive-in horror, this one screams along in true early death metal fashion. There's some pretty morbid riffing ala old Death and some twisted guitar work. This is one for the speed freaks.
Beer Guts
Along with "Cobra Rage", this is another totally crushing death metal assault. It starts out blazingly fast with some grotesque Carcass-style vocals mixed in. In fact, if you mixed Carcass and Anthrax in a blender, it would sound a lot like this, but Engorged comes up with so many quality riffs, they stand on their own. Case in point would be that doomy, mournful sequence that ends the song...awesome! "Now that's elevator music for headbangers!"
Night of the Living Dead
A blistering speed-drenched attack melts into more ominous doom, with raw vocals telling the story of a little girl that eats her mother. More gruesome Engorged magic, this is the first of four related tunes.
Dawn of the Dead
Anybody who heard the early grindcore brutality of Repulsion will recognize the total speed onslaught of this brief track. It features more shouted chorus work.
Zombie
This is the slow doomy number for the album, beginning with actually tasteful guitar and an atmospheric grim feel. It shows that Engorged can handle death metal in all styles (well, I guess there's no In Flames style stuff here). Listen again for the complete stoner rock breakdown at the end.
Day of the Dead
The final track captures the twisted feeling of late 80's/early 90's death metal, but some of the riffing here reminds me more of black metal and the tune ends with some depressingly mournful chords that could have come from an old Immortal album. The band's love of horror movie sampling goes into overdrive here, as there's just too much dialogue going on behind the music.
 
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