(Hellthrasher Productions)

01. Initiation
02. Operation Citadel
03. From The Cradle To The Grave
04. Artillery Barrage
05. Battle Of The Somme
06. Conclusion
07. On The Path Of Subjugation
08. The Hell Of Verdun
09. Public Enlightenment
10. The Rising Sun

RATING: 7.5/10

Once "Encirclement" starts lighting up the night with artillery fire you'd not be faulted for thinking that DECAYING plays an adept brand of death metal that is rather familiar. When DECAYING are not penetrating deep inside the enemy's perimeter like BOLT THROWER, they're shifting gears into the kind of death chugs and hoarse growls that recall ASPHYX (even more so in fact). As it turns out, "Encirclement" sounds to a significant extent like a combination of BOLT THROWER and ASPHYX/HAIL OF BULLETS (war fed lyrics included), not to mention the periodic nod to VOMITORY in the most aggressive moments, all of which adds up to a complimentary assessment in the case of these Fins. Yep, if you're looking for a reconfiguration of the old school European death metal construct, then you'd best look elsewhere.

But of you seek death metal that would go well as accompaniment for knee-deep-in-the-mud trench warfare or the defense to the death of the last remaining hill against impossible odds, then "Encirclement" is the solution you've been seeking. While 2011 debut album "Devastate" was strong in its own right, "Encirclement" benefits from the sound of the band gelling and getting more comfortable in its own shoes. The new effort has a more cohesive feel to it. Whereas the BOLT THROWER influence was not quite as apparent on that first release; the U.K. legends' war rumble is more noticeable on the new long player. Two examples of said influence are the eight-minute "From the Cradle to the Grave" and the rolling thunder of "The Hell of Verdun". A marked improvement in the lead guitar work is noticeable across the board.

You do however make a good point in arguing that you've already got BOLT THROWER, ASPHYX, JUNGLE ROT, and HAIL OF BULLETS for those actual, or more likely reenacted, wartime events. I would then have to respond with a question that went something like "and?" The rationale for that response would be that "if a little of it is good, then more of it is better", at least for a band like DECAYING. Some noticeable bloating aside, on "Encirclement" DECAYING brings the menace with heaviness and groove, not to mention some decently written songs, crisp 'n crackling drumming, and a big 'ol pile of riff-crunch.

Knowing what you know about this style of death metal then, your risk of disappointment with "Encirclement" should you decide to take the purchase plunge is fairly low. The only issue with which some may struggle is DECAYING's tendency to draw out a good thing longer than is necessary on songs like the nine-minute "Conclusion" and the 10-minute "The Rising Sun". It's a minor issue in the larger scheme of things if you ask me. I can't however put forth a wholly convincing counter argument since momentum does wane in a few spots, which is what happens when you record an album that exceeds an hour in length. A questionable choice, I know, but not a fatal one. Overall, these fellows of decay do a nice job of weaving their influences into a work of some stoutness with "Encirclement". In the way of summation, it's nothing new; it's just done well.


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