posted on 5/2008 By:
Let's cut through the crap straight away: Absolute Design is an absolutely atrocius album, and is quite possibly one of the worst semi-major albums released thus far this year. This is simultaneously appalling and surprising for a number of reasons, the most important of which concerns the resumes of the men that compose Engel's ranks.
The guitarists that helm this project are none other than Marcus Sunesson (The Crown) and Niclas Engelin (Gardenian, Passenger, In Flames), the latter being the source of the band's moniker. Now, bear with me for a moment, while I step to the pulpit and administer a brief history lesson for the uninitated: The Crown were one of the most intense, hellraising death/thrash metal bands of all-time, and were criminally underrated throughout the course of their career. Their turn-of-the-century masterworks, Deathrace King and Crowned In Terror, are two of the most unfuckwithable shards of metal ever spewed. Gardenian were similarly underrated, albeit to a greater degree, and released three Gothenburg-rooted albums that were awesome for completely different reasons, as the band evolved a great deal within a very short span of time. Both bands dissolved in the early part of the decade (prematurely, many would argue), and the members have since formed multiple projects that have been met with varying degrees of indifference. When it was announced that a band named Engel would be led by this guitar duo, I freaked out. In a good way.
Fast forward to present day, about two years after the inital buzz had generated. The 'play' button was pressed, and I freaked out. In a very, very bad way. In the span of approximately 90 seconds, it became blindly obvious why a band that was comprised of such a star-studded cast (the rhythm section boasts tenureship in Evergrey, The Project Hate, Lord Belial, and Runemagick, among others) remained unsigned for damn near 4 years. It was also apparent that this album wasn't going to alter the fact that the former members of The Crown or Gardenian haven't created anything artistically viable in at least half a decade.
The guitar work, which should've been the main appeal of this album -especially to the longtime audience that Sunesson and Engelin have urinated upon here- is downtuned, uninteresting, and shamelessly reliant on what Guitar World dubbed "percussive rhythm guitar." Which, ultimately, was a bullshit term that they invented in order to rationalize a magazine cover adorned with Jim Root and Mick Thompson's gimmick-infested grills. The majority of these compositions could be described as nu-metal, which is about as popular right now as Stryper was in 1995. Whatever nu-stank residue is left on these tracks is mopped up by watery metalcore tripe, pandering to the new-kid audience that probably doesn't even know that Engel exists.
Want proof? "Trial and Error" sounds exactly -and I'm not exaggerating in the slightest- like Static-X fronted by that dude from The Autumn Offering. If that sounds like something that you'd expect from veteran death metal musicans that are well into their thirties, in fucking 2008, you need a CAT scan and a heavy cycle of medication. This entire album is a giant, faceless cliche, and a poorly executed one at that. Built upon vapid, cleanly-sung choruses and pussified, sackless, nu-jump fretwork, Absolute Design presents itself as evidence of a strange, roundabout trend of Swedish bands adopting a third-rate commerical metalcore flavor without a shred of irony. The whole thing is not only weird, but it's downright embarrassing, especially when considering the fact Engel contains members of bands that directly influenced the ripoff artists that they are now ripping off themselves. Absolute Design is an utterly dishonest record from a mastermind (Engelin, and I use that term loosely) that has absolutely nothing left in the tank, and is entirely clueless as to what constitutes a decent metal album. This "design" is nothing more than irrepairable junk.
Avoid this crap like you would a handless Haitian hooker.
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