The Phantom Tollbooth

Embrace the Eternal
Artist: Embodyment
Label: Solid State Records
Time: 44:16 / 10 Tracks
 
I was blown away when I heard Embodyment's self-titled demo a year or two ago. The three songs were well written brutal death metal with killer growling vocals. Blast-laden drumming and incredibly memorable moments were abundant, and the production was great for a demo. I pessimistically thought that, like many great underground death metal bands with Christian beliefs, they would soon be gone after leaving only a few super songs and a longing in Christian metalheads for more. We have seen this with many bands including Discarnated, Oblation, Disencumbrance, Golgotha, Drop Dead, and Consecrator, to name a few.

I was right and wrong.

Embrace the Eternal sees Embodyment leaving behind most of what placed them in the death metal genre and embracing (pun intended) many elements of the modern hardcore style. A harsh, throaty hardcore vocal delivery replaces the deep death metal growls, and the guitars are now tuned higher. The overall sound is brighter, clearer, and more abrasive. Two songs from their demo, "Religious Infamy" and "Golgotha", have been re-recorded with the new sound and included on this album. They remain pretty true to the original arrangement and are probably the best songs on the album. The new songs have taken a simpler and less melodic, riff-based form, with a far lower percentage of moving passages which draw the listener in. One thing that has thankfully not changed is Mark Garza's incredibly cool drumming. Overall, I find their previous work much more enjoyable, based somewhat on the change in sound but mostly on the change in songwriting.
 
Now let me take a step back and clarify a few things. Embodyment has not wimped out. This is an incredibly heavy album full of killer riffs, great production, good distinction and clarity of sounds, and an even more intense new vocal style. They are playing their own brand of brutal metallic modern hardcore, which will please a lot of metal fans and hardcore fans alike.

Embodyment generally has well written lyrics which speak explicitly of their Christian beliefs. They deal with issues such as the crucifixion of Christ, problems in the church, inward struggles for the Christian, the folly and inevitable consequence of rejecting and fighting against God, and their own stand on their beliefs:
 
         Call me what you want, the truth remains the same
         I am branded Christian
         Immortal soul of mine fearing not this world
         I am enslaved by no man
         Remaining in my faith I do not stand alone
         My spirit is willing
         Falling to my knees a servant unto Christ in this world of disease
         (from "Breed")
 
Overall, this is a pretty strong album, but I have a hard time not being disappointed by the changes.
 
By Chris King    (2/17/99)