The Menace Within
(Golden Lake Productions)
Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1
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When "The Menace Within" begins, it gives you the impression of being yet another black metal release. But to file this album in the black metal drawer would be careless, and a huge discredit to all their efforts. What you actually have here is a metal album that experiments with a variety of influences and sounds, without latching onto any consistent style. "Pallid Eyes," for example, reminds me of older Samael with it's mixture of dark guitarwork and a similar style of keyboard playing, while other songs bring Opeth to mind, like the accoustic and bass-heavy intro to "Volatile Winter." Still, the majority of the songs have characteristics of late 90's black metal, in the style of Emperor or Mayhem. But even these songs have a tendency to stray from the cold, grim guitar sound and experiment with clean passages, electronic segments, or dark melodic death riffing. Most of the tracks contain some keyboards, which usually do not distract from the rest of the instrumentation, but add to the dismal quality.

One thing that is fairly consistent is Gorbag's vocals, which are the most black metal quality about this production. His deep screeches are not only dark because of their timbre and pitch, but because of the distant distorted quality given by the effects. Helstein's voice, found only in a couple songs, and covering only a few lines in any song, is clean and melodic, and artfully adds to the record's unconventional nature. A big surprise is that all of the instrumentation is written and performed by Mithrin. The variety of sounds here would suggest a melding of influences from multiple musicians, and the sound does not at all sound like a one-man vision. His guitarwork is pretty impressive, and some of the coolest riffs can be found on "Reclamation of Merciless January."

I wouldn't exactly call this avant-garde, as it doesn't stray too far from the current norms. Instead, Emancer form a unique sound that consists of various elements of old-school and modern underground metal, and combines them effectively. The result is a release that will appeal not only to fans of black metal, but also to others who enjoy creative dark music. --
Lady Enslain