Ensepulchred - Suicide in Winters Moonlight
Autopsy Kitchen Records
Keyboard driven Black Metal
16 songs (54'46")
Release year: 2007
Autopsy Kitchen Records
Reviewed by Alex

If you drove from Fort Wayne to West Lafayette in Indiana, USA, and I made that track many times, you have seen how that part of the state combines its “amber waves of grain” with what must be the world record for churches per capita, square mile, etc. in every little town you encounter along the way. From this country, specifically from Frankfort, IN, population 15,000 comes to us Ensepulchred. Not only the band hails from a curious location, for black metal anyway, they also try to present us with a rather unusual sounding dark art on Suicide in Winters Moonlight.

Ensepulchred combines an introverted bedroom black metal aesthetic with a soundtrack feel, through an inordinately high use of keyboards/synthesizer, attempting to immerse the listener in the atmosphere of sedated trance and inescapable horror. The band is listed as a trio, and Dustin Redington is handling a noise guitar, but I challenge you to find anything guitar-like on the album. The strings are so deeply buried in the mix, they are nothing but a slight background. So is the bass. Instead, Suicide in Winters Moonlight is dominated but cold metal-on-metal clanging keyboard notes set to the nonstop drum machine.

Not that I have anything against keyboard in my black metal, in fact some of the most awesome melodic moments are usually delivered by the black-and-white ivory instrument, but Ensepulchred may get a little overbearing with theirs. The main problem is the variety of sounds both of the band’s keyboardists put out. Located somewhere between church organ and electropop, but much closer to the latter, Ensepulchred keyboards are supposed to bring on the feeling of deep freeze and eeriness, but instead of melody flowing freely the band prefers to walk through it in chords, thus replacing guitar riffs. The result is a mixed bag. Once the flow is there, as in Suffer in the Embrace of the Cold, The Cruel Silence of the Sky, the interesting but interrupted prayer of The Eulogy of One Poignant Ra’Por and, especially, in the hymn-like apocalyptic Twilight of War, I am totally sold on the approach. The rest of the way, the album is a bit of a chore to get through given the length and repetition. It does not really help that the more interesting tracks – at least for me – are situated towards the end of the album. Many songs begin and end rather abruptly, as if these were somehow song sketches, precursors, rushed directly from the demo.

Jonathan Shipley’s vocals will not win many converts either. Oscillating between the rustling in the night just before the terror strikes and creepy little creature’s gurgles and hisses, the songs possess a lot of lyrics. If you have much to say, you might as well print it, yet it is not the case with the album’s booklet. There are a few samples on the album, most notably from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Macabre, and the effort is also made to diversify into black noise boiling magma on The Tormented Mind and Flesh.

I boldly foresee Suicide in Winters Moonlight being a “love it or hate it” affair for many. I am just personally mad that so much potential has been wasted. It almost feels that this album was a collection of demos which led to the band’s signing. Suicide in Winters Moonlight came out almost concurrently with another long player on the same superkult underground Autopsy Kitchen Records in 2006.

Killing Songs :
Twilight of War, The Cruel Silence of the Sky
Alex quoted 63 / 100
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