So crisps the skin of the swine-leathered headdress we place upon thee in your temporary and thus prophesied burial chamber. Packed with soon rotten fruit and unlit lamps of scent-infused oils the sweet rot of your blood-drained flesh is picked of carrion bugs and washed like reddened linens of wanton consummation. Slicked with blued sweating flesh and gnashing your smashed-through smile we’d look away while drying your husk in preparation for the soon-planted seed. The sputum of God that’d surely drip onto slashed lips and worm into the belly of rebirth. Swinging our censers to abate the stench, we your ghastly doomed pick and gnaw away the final cadaverous worms of our Lord’s bubbling flesh. They’d squirm upwards away from the low flames as your body bakes away their bursting, crunching bodies who’d ooze with the very humours of Him. Grant us a sliver of your eternal life, grant us a sacred mouthful of your flesh oh, divine plague. We offer our horrendous souls oh, divine plague and suffocate in this wax-sealed tomb to tribute your soon famous rebirth. ‘We Proclaim Your Death, O’ Lord’ and beat the ruddy skin from our chests so the crazed gasps of our Encoffination would give drum to your marching return. Hoarse is the roaring depth of our devotion oh, divine plague as we suffocate within this sweetly foul funeral death dirge.
Patiently wait, a corpse in wretched dried bondage, for an eternity still and let the dirge of this death melt away all irrational senses to dull the fearful edge of this meditation. Include whatever bones remain in your inner ear as an offering to this death and doom-stricken duo as they achieve their deepest droning fourth piece of funereal and minimalist slow-motion death metal surrealism. For just over a decade Encoffination persists as they move beyond the conceptual second-fiddle to death mastery Father Befouled and towards a deeper-bulging cystic throb of ritualistic extreme doom marches and lightened bursts of insightful rage. The very groan of the distortion is all you’ll feel at certain junctures and to be entirely transparent, it will be as much of a challenge the tenth and twentieth times through. Just as the multitudes of spoiled death metal fans the internet over began to sneer and whine at the prospect of about fifty cavernous Incantation influenced death metal bands cropping up beyond 2006 so came into view several projects from Wayne ‘Elektrokutioner’ Sarantopoulos (Ghoulgotha, Beyond Hell, Decrepitaph, etc.) who’d soon pair wonderfully with musician Justin Stubbs in the instantly promising Father Befouled and a couple years later as a duo in Encoffination. The gist of how the style of this conceptually achieved death/doom metal band has evolved is essentially from ultra atmospheric death/doom a la Disembowelment or Grave Upheaval towards truly funeral doom paced death/doom that creates ominous dark ambient music using death metal instrumentation. There is an encroaching brutal drone/death beast lurking in their future, or at least it’d seem that is the direction this their fourth full-length is about 70% headed in.
At this point I’ll generally confess to hating this collaboration and Father Befouled until about 2012-2013 as ‘Elegant Funerals for the Unknown Dead’ and ‘Revulsion of Seraphic Grace’ both saw some marked improvement in both separation of concept and better clarified recordings. Encoffination truly stood out to me on their third full-length ‘III – Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs)’ (2014) most likely because I was in a more patient place at the time and when revisiting their earlier efforts their modus was very similar if not slightly more active in terms of pace. ‘We Proclaim Your Death O’Lord’ is even more polarized towards the ‘funeral death metal’ goal. This puts them more rumbling and removed from easier comparisons in the past such as Rippikoulu or Innumerable Forms as their default pacing becomes even more painfully glacial and abrasive in its sound design. This comes as an interesting defiance in an era where many of the most obfuscated atmospheric death metal bands of all time begin to move completely away from obscured production values and any sort of droning noise. Encoffination embrace it in the most minimal but abrasive way that is both artistically admirable and entirely frustrating as a casual listen. Broken guitar lunges, grinding feedback and impossibly sustained presence create a mountain of a guitar experience that wanders around in uncomplicated circles as it stalks its likely intoxicated prey. On one hand the experience is unforgettable as an ominous slow-grind towards a reviled eternity and on the other hand no composition here is any more memorable than the last.
The guitar tone is so finely tuned towards excess that it feels intentionally stylized right on the edge of ear-bursting drone resonance; It doesn’t feel good and after a few hours it’d begin to hurt when using a finer pair of headphones. That abrasive shambling doom pace is generally slower on ‘We Proclaim Your Death, O’ Lord’ compared to the last couple of releases and yet the sense of death metallic resemblance still largely remains thanks to the deeper vocal register and the otherwise stripped down instrumentation. That increasing minimalism doesn’t slash Encoffination of their heaviness or presence on record but it does begin to fully move into the realm of extreme doom metal save for a few well placed grinds towards atmospheric death metal territory (“Robe and Crown”, “Mysterium Fidei”) as the album peaks in its intensity. As a focused listening experience there is something very satisfying about riding those waves of distortion and feedback they’d create while the tribal-esque drumming bangs out pieces that convey a feeling of ruin and ominous dread. Nothing ever appears to resolve in these spaces they create only spiral further or mesh back upon itself making for a muddied and ‘experimental’ extreme doom metal record.
As a seeker of the truly surreal and blasphemous music of the world there is everything to like in a sitting with Encoffination anymore. Their approach comes with both feet standing in the pools of funeral doom metal and there I am happy to sit though, the movement of each piece truly becomes ambient to the point of anxiety rather than striking doom or barreling riff. This will be divisive for folks who might require wild strokes of guitar riffs rather than a few bursts in an otherwise steadily creeping ocean of death and fear. A generally high recommendation is fitting in this case and I’d place it as one of the most distinctive pieces from Encoffination yet with an above average atmospheric design and unique treatment of debilitating noise. For preview I’d recommend the pairing of “The Keys of Hell and Death” and “Robe and Crown” as my favorite portion of the full listen.
From a choir of dead throats. 3.75/5.0
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