Encoffination - O' Hell, Shine in Thy Whited Sepulchres
Death Metal
8 songs (39:04)
Release year: 2011
Encoffination, Selfmadegod
Reviewed by Charles
Encoffination’s mission is to drag death metal deeper and deeper into the sepulchral pit made explicit in its genre name. Over a brace of albums these two musicians have created perhaps the thickest atmosphere that I have yet encountered in this type of music. Their music is slower-than-slow, with a sound that squelches and gurgles like plague victims tossed into a bog. The vocals sound (to recycle a simile I believe I originally used to describe the last Undergang release) like a heavy stone lid sliding slowly off a dusty sarcophagus; agonisingly protracted vowels with little comprehensible meaning. The rudimentary drumming is imbued with plodding menace by its reverberating tom sounds. And the guitar tone is a pestilential churn, in which chords are struck and then allowed to rot in the listener’s ear lobes, in the absence of any kind of proactive compositions.

Incantation probably deserve the most credit for pioneering the depths to which death metal could sink. Their subterranean guitar tone, which booms forth with such harrowing power, is clearly a strong precedent here (suspiciously similar logos, too). But Encoffination undoubtedly do something rather different. Incantation’s music is violent and often elaborate, conjuring visions of grimly intricate masonry on a hellish tomb, from which horrid spirits could at any moment spring infernally forth. A bit like the album cover of Disma’s Towards the Megallith, whose music bears many of the New Yorkers’ hallmarks. O’Hell, Shine in Thye Whited Sepulchres, on the other hand, is devoid of anything like that. It is the muddy grave of a medieval pauper, ramshackle and without hint of anticipation or threat- just decay. The music is primitive, beset by torpor: witness the wobbly drumming in Rites of Ceremonial Embalm’ment or soddenly epic closer Annunciation of the Viscera.

So, the sheer thickness of their woe is Encoffination’s greatest strength, but perhaps it is also their weakness. “Weakness” is, of course, the wrong word, as the band clearly sounds exactly as they intend to. Nonetheless, this shuddering, crawling morass of an album might disappoint those who expect and desire proper riffing from their death metal. For there is very little of that to be found. There is an aimless quality to tracks like Ritual Until Blood, which gloops from strum to strum in a lethargic and formless fashion, far more interested in cranking up the misery with dismal flashes church organ than picking up into anything you could headbang to. Sometimes it shifts into gear; momentarily, like halfway through Elegant in their Funebrial Cloaks, Arisen, where the band picks up into a rough clomp more reminiscent of the barbarous doom of Coffin. But such passages aren’t really what the record is there for.

And so there you have it. O’Hell… is a sublimely dank record, whose very strengths- its defiant primitivism and its worship of the slow decay of the grave- impose upon it limits which it cannot transcend.

Killing Songs :
Rites of Ceremonial Embalm'ment, Annunciation of the Viscera
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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