PICK OF THE WEEK: Ænigmatum jar expectations, unleash intricate, bizarre death on ‘Deconsecrate’

Photo by Devin Tolman

For the past several months, I felt like I had lost the ability to dream. I’m sure I had some rapid-fire visons as I slept that don’t recall, but the presence of full-bodied, strange stories my brain tells me felt like they had disappeared into the back if my mind, robbing me of one of the highlights of sleep where I could travel into weird labyrinths as I lie motionless all night.

Things have changed a bit recently as lucid dreaming has returned, and I’m wondering if it has to do with having to cut out THC due my weird anxiety. This is relevant to what we’re talking about today, namely “Deconsecrate,” the second record from death metal ghouls Ænigmatum. These eight songs spread over 45 minutes made my brain charge and the morbid ends of my imagination start to fire, almost like I could have a dream during the day as I took on their mind-rumbling, progressive death metal. The band—vocalist/guitarist Kelly McLaughlin, guitarist Eli Lundgren, bassist/synth player Brian Rush, drummer/backing vocalist Pierce Williams—keeps you fully engaged as they drag you through warped horror rooms, past carnival mirrors, and into the strangest mental stimulation you can handle as they unleash some of the most ridiculously proficient, heavy sounds they can manage.

“Forged From Bedlam” is led in by drum rolls before things are torn apart, the growls shred, and the music is propulsive and exciting. Ugly carnage mauls hard, the bass playing crumbles time, and the leads calculate and attack, heating up with nasty growls and disarming speed. “Undaunted Hereafter” pounds away as the bass slips in, and the carnage explodes. The drums unload as the playing gets more daring and thrashing, tearing into your flesh and even lighting some progressive fires. The track chugs anew as a massive assault is mounted before the phantom releases its grip. “Disenthralled” is disorienting and tangling as the growls scorch from behind. The leads jolt as things get even trickier, charging through your mind into fluid, fertile terrain before the track gets thrashier, the growls mar, and the chaos bleeds into “Fracturing Proclivity” that basks in ominous tones. Speed later makes your head spin as absolute insanity lands, completely scrambling your brain as the guitars jettison off into the horizon. The drums clobber, the skies darken, and the piles of ash dissolve into the earth.

“Floods Within a Splintered Cortex” is a weird, spacey instrumental piece that lets the clouds slowly burst, the pace crumble, and the synth jolt before pulling into “Larker, Sanguine Phantom” that has the guitars stabbing from the start. Things gets relentless and frantic, which feels frightening at times, and the crushing madness spills into great intensity and chaotic charging that makes your blood rush. The back end clobbers as throaty growls reign, ending everything in ravenous crunch. “Despot of Amorphic Dominions” is whirring and strange as it greets you, exploding in rubbery ferocity and explosive leads that ignite with energy. The power suddenly pulls back as hypnotic strangeness overtakes the ambiance, numbing before the daggers fly again, and an insane tempo forces you to try to make sense of what you’re experiencing. The playing topples, a spacey vibe stretches, and everything tumbles into an ashen abyss. “Animus Reflection” closes the album, starting with break-neck power and stirring madness, with a zany atmosphere to boot. The playing carves bone as your limbs are tested, the bass slinks and slips, and the leads both ignite and chill, churning your bones and ending things with intoxicating fumes.

“Deconsecrate” is one of those albums where on one hand you can lead a listener on a path of expectation with these eight songs, and on the other it’s like I don’t know what the fuck to say that’ll make this make sense, which I love. Ænigmatum brings imaginative, jarring death metal that is challenging and progressively devastating, music that you likely won’t fully absorb the first time through and maybe not even the 10th. This album is further proof that death metal hasn’t been fully mastered yet because artists such as these still generate sounds and auras not yet discovered, proving there’s still so much left to unearth.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063560651573

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/aenigmatum

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/