It was obvious from their widely acclaimed debut album "Patient 0" that ENTERPRISE EARTH were a deathcore band with unusual focus and fierce individuality. Seven years on, and nothing much has changed in that regard. In keeping with the fervent development showcased on 2019's "Luciferous", the Spokane crew have made another dramatic leap forward on their fourth full-length, expanding their sound and, again, setting themselves apart from the chasing pack. In much the same way that WHITECHAPEL have steadily evolved into something far more interesting than perhaps even they expected, ENTERPRISE EARTH come pretty close to transcending deathcore altogether on "The Chosen", instead pursuing a new and often electrifying hybrid of modern (and not so modern) metallic styles, replete with far bigger tunes than on any previous record. From the opening seconds of "Where Dreams Are Broken", the sheer, shiny weight of this thing is abundantly apparent. "The Chosen" sounds huge and definitive.
Sounding amazing is only half the battle, of course. ENTERPRISE EARTH have long stood out as sharper and more imaginative songwriters than most in this genre, and without some incisive and memorable tunes, "The Chosen" would simply be another immaculate and expensive-sounding overhaul for modern (extreme) metal. Fortunately, that aforementioned spirit of adventure continues to inform the band's songs, and while fans of straight-ahead deathcore will find more than enough squinting thuggery to keep the slam-fires burning, the prevailing wind is blowing ENTERPRISE EARTH into multiple new sonic locations, with those trademark, bludgeoning riffs a vehicle for some genuinely daring acts of cross-pollination. Bravely, "Where Dreams Are Broken" is arguably the record's biggest curveball, wherein frontman Dan Watson uses at least two new parts of his voice, injecting the song with a strident chorus hook and several layers of FEAR FACTORY-like dystopian atmosphere, while still growling and gurgling like a tweaked-out caco-daemon.
Thereafter, "The Chosen" sounds and feels like an intermittently experimental masterclass, as ENTERPRISE EARTH warp crushing grooves to their own foul ends, ugly electronics bursting from every calcified pore and enough mad-eyed melodrama to briskly check the infernally gothic box, too. From the nightmarish ebb and bludgeoning flow of "Reanimate // Disintegrate" and the symphonic deathcore rampage of "Unleash Hell" to the gleeful pit violence of "They Have No Honor" and the extravagant black squall of abyssal ballad "Overpass", "The Chosen" dares to imagine a more open-minded future for this strain of modern heaviness, but without sacrificing a single sliver of intensity.
Some will miss the pitch-perfect, twisted grandeur of "Luciferous", but ENTERPRISE EARTH have too many ideas and too much momentum to get stuck in that particular rut. As they demonstrate with particular brilliance on this album's epic and artful, eight-minute title track, this band are hitting their stride and carving their own bloody niche.