Autumn Leaves - Embraced by the Absolute
Voices of Wonder
Death Metal
10 songs (47'14")
Release year: 1997
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

I bet you $10 that you never heard about Autumn Leaves. I bet you even more bills you never heard their debut album Embraced by the Absolute. Being from Denmark, the land that produced fewer metal bands than their other Scandinavian brethren, this little known band released just two albums, the one I am reviewing here, and As the Night Conquers Day. The latter is pretty much a standard Gothenburg platter, solid throughout, but hardly original, bearing many similarities to The Gallery-era Dark Tranquillity and Whoracle-era In Flames. Why then would I want to dust out the debut? Why all the fuss? ‘Cause discounting the particular style of the above mentioned Gothenburg masters, along with the supermighty Suffocation and originators Carcass, Embraced by the Absolute defines both “melodic” and “death” to me.

I don’t want to single anybody out, but it seems if extreme vocals are used, and you can peruse the riffs off At The Gates or scrounge through the Bjorler brothers bin (see Within Y), then you belong in “melodic death metal”. Add on keyboards, arrange for some guitar fireworks, don’t mind some power metal structures, jump on Children of Bodom bandwagon and you are “melodic death metal” too (see Mors Principium Est). Now, I hate labels and I totally oppose pigeonholing bands into particular categories, but lately “melodic death” has been a lot more about “melody” and “copycat” than “death”. However, if you think that “melodic death metal” is supposed to be brutal, vicious, dark, yet utterly and covertly melodic, I strongly recommend getting a hold of this album. If Maiden harmonies is not all you want in a record, and you would like to hear some powerful, thru-your-skull, yet catchy and memorable riffs, some highly technical guitar playing and dizzying solos you are in need of this album too. Carcass is not reincarnating, but when I heard that Suffocation is back with Souls to Deny (the record I haven’t heard yet, but almost definitely will) I ran to my CD shelf and grabbed Autumn Leaves. Embraced by the Absolute should hold me over for a while, until Suffocation is shipped.

Autumn Leaves strength does not come off at the million miles per hour speed like some modern brutal bands. Instead, from the beginning of Blood till the end of Weakening Trip we are subjected to a powerful, booming, slightly downtuned and at times grinding sound that comes at oft changing tempos. The band can blast and next minute slow it down, only to throw themselves thrashing all over the place again (Blood, Rise from Your Nest). The band can be both technical and groovy at the same time (On the Verge of Tears). That is why I constantly marvel at how these guys can play, however it never gets boring. How could it with so many cleverly inserted melodic breakdowns? Straightforward melodic portions are here as well, and, yes, Iron Maiden is not forgotten with the twin guitars of Thomas Andersen and Hemming C. Eund joining in harmony (Forever the Destiny, The Surface Anger). Just as the flow can be nice and smooth, so you bob your head to the beat (Universal Flood), the music can be chaotic and schizophrenic (Serpent). You can count on at least 2 or 3 riffs per song you will be humming in the shower next day, and you can find some of the most finger fleeting solos sweeping over those riffs (Blood, Forever the Destiny). Egil H. Madsen can blast the hell out of his drums, or play at a very syncopated pace. I wish drums could be just a little higher in the mix, but this material is so guitar oriented I can hardly complain. Boris Tandrup is given a couple of spots where everybody else goes quiet and he can slap his bass strings silly (Blood, Forever the Destiny). Torsten Madsen is surprisingly audible for a death metal vocalist, and on Rise from Your Nest he employs vocal layering, both growls and shrieks, something Maurizio Iacono of Kataklysm does so well these days.

The band can be almost playful and vibrant with their melodies (Hope Springs Eternal), or go dark and eerie as on the ending of Rise from Your Nest (piano ending just reinforces the doom). Just to top it all off, the album ends with the title track instrumental, the best short instrumental in death metal after Voice of the Soul on Death’s Sound of Perseverance.

I know the album will be extremely hard to find, small obscure Norwegian label, 1997, but if you come across it and you think your soul belongs to death metal, break your piggybank, it will be worth it. It is definitely one of my personal favorites.

Killing Songs :
Blood, Forever the Destiny, Rise from Your Nest, Hope Springs Eternal, Embraced by the Absolute
Alex quoted 95 / 100
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