ENBOUND - The Blackened Heart
December 2, 2016, a year ago
(Inner Wound Recordings)
When it comes to a band like Swedish melodic rockers Enbound, you have to learn to appreciate both the melodic nuances as well as the forceful elements. You either are — or aren’t — a fan of the sugary, melodic hooks, AOR-laden highlights, and a singer that croons his ass off. On its sophomore effort, The Blackened Heart, the band plays a hybrid of melodic metal and AOR with a wide range of influences from bands such as Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Fair Warning and Kamelot. The Blackened Heart possesses a nice mix of heavy and up-tempo songs with strong individual melodies and dramatic symphonic flurries, proving that it can handle all sorts of dynamics and emotions.
Opener “Falling” combines classic AOR vocal harmonies with symphonic elements. From the start, it’s easy to get reeled in by its infectious melodies and sharp guitar licks. Even though Enbound doesn’t list a keyboardist in its lineup, it’s a very prominent element during the entire album. The heavier tracks such as "Holy Grail" and "Give Me Light,” is what Enbound does best — by combining the right amount of melody with aggression. With the former, the heavy riffs merge with insanely catchy vocal harmonies, as the latter combines a highly-infectious chorus-line with chugging guitar riffs. When they implement this type of formula, the songs work exceptionally well. On the other hand, “HIO” and “They Don't Really Know” combines sensitivity with aggression, containing saccharine-coated melodies and razor sharp riffing. There’s some top-notch bass parts in a few spots on the album, most notably on “Feel My Flame.” Not only does bassist Swede “Machine Gun Fingers” Odén get a chance to shine on this track, Symphony X bassist Mike LePond lays a guest solo down. This song may perhaps be the only one of its kind to feature two consecutive bass solos by two different performers. Although the 10 tracks lack huge, chantable choruses, Enbound make up for it with some memorable vocal hooks and melodic musical passages. With an ultra-slick production, there’s a lot of sheen and gloss to the songs. Open-minded metal fans with a knack for melodic music will surely appreciate Enbound’s infectious flavor.