Polterchrist - Engulfed by the Swarm
Season Of Mist
Technical Death Metal
9 songs (45'31")
Release year: 2004
Polterchrist, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Due to some personal circumstances I have been very busy lately, not much time for listening to new stuff (and I miss that). So, out of my “to be reviewed” list I have grabbed something I thought I knew, Polterchrist.

I am very proud with some of these bands I have reviewed demos for. Throcult went on to sign with Crash and Season of Mist picked up Polterchrist. Didn’t I predict it? Talent is a difficult thing to hide and now we have a full-length album released by the French label. Bearing the same name as the last demo, Engulfed by the Swarm, it has seven new songs in addition to two from the aforementioned demo reviewed on these pages.

With Polterchrist you think you would know it, yet you are being surprised at every turn. This band just refuses to conform and choose a steady single path. Music foundation is certainly death metal, but twists and turns along the way are numerous. That is what may bring the band new fans, but also may keep at bay those who like their death metal straightforward.

This band from Philly has more colors than chameleon’s skin. Quirky death metal may be the best label to describe the music on Engulfed by the Swarm. Amid chugging, almost mocking, riffs Polterchrist may fit in an atmospheric part, very reminiscent of black metal (The Sun Will Burn Black). You could never guess whether the next part would be highly syncopated or easily flowing. The rhythm section of Polterchrist stands out as Monti Mukerji (bass) and Brain Deal (drums) can change those rhythms on a dime. Polterchrist will break your limbs with their tempo shifts. From a full on blast to a complete stop, only to restart at ¾ speed. Nowhere it is more apparent than on the holdover Lies…Pain…Hate where the song comes in waves, building up pressure in spots and towards the end of the song. At times being faster than fast (title track), Polterchrist, in my modest opinion, are the anti-groove band, as they never settle for simple chugs and riff repeat. Guitars by Dan Loughry and Kevin McClintock are crazy and out of control. Their leads come out of nowhere, can solo in background (The Sun Will Burn Black) or provide almost a sadomasochistic melody veering in and out of harmony (The Battle). Vocals also do not escape the quirky land coming in three varieties: guttural growl, higher pitch blackened scream and processed beyond recognition somewhat clean parts (Lies...Pain…Hate).

Even more surprising are some of the new songs on the album. The Art of Ferocity begins with a synthesized, practically techno, section. I could not believe that. Terminal, for 2 full minutes, is a mystic, acoustic, jazzy piece. Even when guitars come in initially it is not brutal, only when vocals start, the song explodes. Desolate Paradise is another exercise in progressive extremes. Melodic harmony of the guitars contrasts the off-beat rhythms building up for the idea of a “paradise” you really don’t want to be in. I really liked those songs where Polterchrist was able to step away from brutality, at least for a short while, and blend in some elements that enriched the album. In fact, the “steady” crusher opener Alone is probably my least favorite song on Engulfed by the Swarm.

I have just re-read my demo review and realized something I haven’t done in this review either. I have not made a single comparison of what Polterchrist sounds like. Is it by accident? No, these guys truly sound like themselves. The closest possible thing may be a later day Suffocation, but even that is a stretch.

Being so complex in their compositions, Polterchrist songs are definitely not catchy and take a few listens to really grasp. Pushing the proverbial death metal envelope this band does not compromise their technical prowess and anti-groove nature for easy listening acceptance. I wish the band all sort of success as I feel fan conversion will not come easy. They have a fan in me, but many other death metal fans prefer their favorite bands to chug it ceaselessly within the same rhythmic pentameter.

Killing Songs :
The Sun Will Burn Black, Terminal, Lies...Pain...Hate, Engulfed by the Swarm, Desolate Paradise
Alex quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Polterchrist that we have reviewed:
Polterchrist - Demo 2002 reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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