Engel - Absolute Design
Modern Metal with various influences
12 songs (46'40")
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Alex

Pedigree is a funny thing. You are not born with, you have to earn it. You either have it, or you don’t. And if you finally acquire it, rest assured such pedigree now comes as the direct consequence of blood, sweat and tears. Yet, pedigree can also serve as an albatross around someone’s neck. Somehow, you are expected to be true to form which originally brought you recognition. And what if you are decidedly moving on in your musical endeavors? Expect a shitstorm of controversy to start, with people taking polarizing opinions in the debate.

Engel has pedigree in bucketfuls. I can only imagine the conversation Niclas Engelin had with his future bandmembers back in 2005. Talking to Daniel “Mojjo” Moilanen (drums, Lord Belial, Runemagick, The Project Hate) and Marcus Sunesson (guitars, The Crown), and later on to Michael Hakansson (bass, Evergrey, The Project Hate) he could have said something distantly resembling the following:

“Bros, have you been paying attention to what is happening recently with modern metal? Do you see the commercial success In Flames and Soilwork are enjoying? And how come no one remembers my old band, Gardenian? Weren’t we the ones who first started rolling other influences into Gothenburg metal? Weren’t we the ones who first started adding clean vocals alongside harsh singing on Soulburner, and took an inordinate amount of flack for it? It is time we strike at the modern metal core (or metalcore, if you so insist) and reclaim the commercial success which should have been truly ours. I have these melodies in me I need to put out. I have the riffs which would lay a hammer on an anvil. I loved the darker gothic edge Marco Tervonen had going in Angel Blake, I have been binging on Katatonia as of late, and I also have a ton of other influences, including some emo and industrial overtones, remember Gardenian’s last album Sindustries, we could incorporate in our new band’s sound. I have a relatively unknown vocalist named Mangan Klavborn, and I think he can handle a large variety of vocals my music calls for. Finally, I even have the band’s name. Engel it is, since it was me who had this vision. We are going to make it huge. Are you with me?”

Not saying it went exactly like that, but Absolute Design is a testament that it could have. The album takes renowned Gothenburg style musicians, originators of the genre and mainstays of some very influential bands, and throws them in a direction which can be a big marketable hit with modern youth, but at the same will certainly ruffle the feathers of those remembering what the artists used to purvey back in the day. Absolute Design is a collection of formidably produced 3-4 min long songs (courtesy of Anders Friden and Daniel Bergstrand) centered around simple strapping downtuned chug’n’slam riffs, with choruses providing instant deep-pocket hooks (Casket Closing, Next Closed Door, Trial & Error, I’m the One). The attempts to diversify and not fall in a rut are numerous and they do not sound forced. Propaganda is some breakneck thrash punk and Calling Out opens up with almost a dance beat. Industrial effects are strong, especially given the digitized mechanical nature of drumming, while The Paraclete, Scyth and Descend brush up their melodic emo shoulders against latter day Katatonia, albeit sometimes with a lumbering effort (Next Closed Door). My personal preferences include Engel being more ominous, as in apocalyptically visualized intro to the opener In Splendour and unrelenting circling overhead melody of The Hurricane Season, song title befitting.

Mangan Klavborn, indeed, does everything from throat gurgling (Trial & Error) to tough guy ‘core speak in the verses of In Splendour and I’m the One to the balmy sweet choruses in The Paraclete and Scyth. His voice is almost a product of the approach Engel takes. And it is this approach that I can almost guarantee will become a subject of the debate and split opinions.

Personally, I don’t find Engel either mindblowing or offensive. I don’t hail it to be the next big newcomer, but I don’t decry metal destruction with its advent. I can enjoy the moment one of the Absolute Design melodies hooks me, but I am just as ready to turn the page. You decide, it is what Engel wanted you to do after all …

Killing Songs :
In Splendour, The Hurricane Season
Alex quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Engel that we have reviewed:
Engel - Threnody reviewed by Jaime and quoted 78 / 100
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