With The Dying Planet Weeps, Engulf captures the essence of death metal, both new and old, and weaves it into a cosmic tale of planetary destruction.

Release date: January 12, 2024 | Everlasting Spew Records | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

As if there wasn’t enough death metal for fans of the brutish genre to enjoy, Hal Microutsicos (also guitarist of Blasphemous), has released The Dying Planet Weeps, his debut full length album for his solo project, Engulf. This (mostly) one man project takes on the hefty feat of combining modern, progressive death metal with a more old school, riff-tastic approach that pulls influence from the forefathers of the genre.

For those unfamiliar, this isn’t Hal’s first outing under the Engulf moniker. He has released three EPs since 2017, but this is, by far, the most solid in terms of mixing past and present death metal styles. There is a lot of Morbid Angel and Pestilence riff worship all over The Dying Planet Weeps, as well as a Chuck Schuldiner-esque, raspy vocal performance. There are also flashes of more modern dissonant death metal moodiness that is reminiscent of bands like Ulcerate, and a grooviness that pulls from the Aborted school of heaviness.

From start to finish, Hal plucks twisted, yet melody-forward riffs out of the cosmos, weaving them together to create a grimy death metal atmosphere. If The Dying Planet Weeps is to be enjoyed for one thing alone, it should be the excellent songwriting on display. “Withered Suns Collapse” opens with a dirge-like intro that quickly unfolds into a pummelling, nasty groove, blasting drums, and some tasty pinch squeals. On “Nefarious Hive”, chugging, elephants marching-style riffs, alongside guest vocals from Sven de Caluwé (Aborted), eventually give way to an ugly, dissonant death metal assault that continues into the aptly named “Ominous Grandeur”, which itself delves deeper into discordance before finally emerging into a more cavernous, sludge-y sound.

There are more vile, old school death metal riffs scattered throughout “Lunar Scourge”, with the last minute of the song having absolutely no right to get my head banging as hard as it did. Album closer, and title track, “The Dying Planet Weeps”, however, is another showcase of Hal’s ability to merge melody and dissonance together. A purely instrumental song that acts as an excellent reprieve from the planetary destruction that just unfolded.

Honestly, there is a bit of everything here for everybody. It bridges a gap between the progressive, melodic death metal and some of the weirder, atonal aspects of the genre that are less easily digested. There’s some modernness; there’s some old school vibes. The Dying Planet Weeps is a very clear progression from Engulf’s first few releases but leaves obvious room for Hal to push the project forward as he continues to improve as a musician and a songwriter.

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