Band – Engulf
Album – The Dying Planet Weeps
Country of Origin – USA
Genre – Death Metal
Release Date – January 12, 2024
Label – Everlasting Spew Records
Author – Hayduke X
Engulf burst onto the international death metal scene in 2017 with the Subsumed Atrocities EP. As they are so good at doing, the folks at Everlasting Spew records recognized the talent that was present and signed the Hal Microutsicos solo project to the label, releasing the debut EP, along with Gold and Rust (2018) and Transcend (2019) to complete the trio of connected EPs. Now, Microutsicos and Everlasting Spew are prepared to release the debut LP The Dying Planet Weeps onto the world, and we are so proud to be able to host a full stream a day early. Jump on in to listen, then jump below the stream for my full review
The Dying Planet Weeps is a slow burning masterpiece of DEATH METAL! All caps and the exclamation point are necessary to demonstrate just how quintessentially death metal this album and project are. Microutsicos borrows from many subgenres falling under the umbrella, but this only adds to the true death metal essence of the project. The “For Fans Of” listed in the promotional materials includes “Hate Eternal, early Gorguts, early Decapitated and early Ulcerate.” All of these shout outs make sense, but to me, a mix of the Upon Desolate Sands Hate Eternal and early era Ulcerate makes the most sense. What an incredible blend! As someone who is notoriously snobby about death metal in my friend group, I can’t think of a better list of bands to entice me to listen, and I’m here to say that this album doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it exceeds the expectations which those names bring. Engulf, still a young project, deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with every one of those aforementioned bands, on the strength of this release alone.
One of the many things Engulf does so beautifully is pacing. Overall, the album is mid paced death metal, which gives it the feel of a fire always on the edge of burning out of control. While some death metal releases hit a mid paced tempo in a way that comes across as repetitive and boring, The Dying Planet Weeps always feels just on the edge of unrelenting chaos, like an avenging angel (or demon) only just being contained, only just being kept from wreaking righteous retribution on humanity-plagued earth. The fact that the pacing is dynamic within a certain range helps with this, pushing forward and then pulling back with whiplash precision, something Ulcerate exemplifies as well. The tones of the album also help, rich, organic, feral tones that create an atmosphere of imminent destruction, something Hate Eternal also masters in their work. Lest you think that Engulf is a clone of either of these, or any other bands, The Dying Planet Weeps comes across as clearly its own entity. There are elements which are suggestive of, but never derivative of, these and other projects, as must be the case with all art.
Microutsicos uses a reasonably extensive lineup of guest and session musicians, but the vision is the work of the Blasphemous guitarist. He is directly responsible for the lyrics, instrumentation, drum programming and vocals on the album. The full lineup can be found on the Bandcamp page. Just click the player above.
It’s way too early in the year to ordain anything for 2024. I will say that my initial listen prompted me to move this particular album to my end of year watch list so that I don’t lose track of it over the next twelve months. Safe money says that it will make another appearance on a specific list to be published sometime next January. My one complaint is that I wish it were about five minutes longer, but there is something to be said for an album leaving the listener wanting more. Folks, this is what death metal perfection sounds like in 2024.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. He is also a contributor to The Metal Wanderlust. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.