ENFORSAKEN
"Sinner's Intuition"

(Crash Music, Inc.)

01. Witness to the Fall
02. Blacklist Assassin
03. The Slain
04. Halo of Ruin
05. Enemy Angel
06. Sever the Ties
07. Words in Red
08. The Course to Oblivion

RATING: 9/10

I'll not beat around the bush. "Sinner's Intuition" by Chicago's ENFORSAKEN is one of the best examples of melodic death metal that I have heard in quite some time. Bold words, I know, but ENFORSAKEN gets everything right with the Gothenburg-infused style heard on its third full-length release (and first for Crash Music). It is no exaggeration to say that on "Sinner's Intuition" ENFORSAKEN takes the best of what legendary bands like DARK TRANQUILLITY and AT THE GATES offered and somehow creates a sound that is all its own.

It is not like anyone should be shocked at the quality of ENFORSAKEN's work on "Sinner's Intuition", considering the praise heaped on 2003's "The Forever Endeavor". I too enjoyed the band's sophomore release, but the album pales in comparison to "Sinner's Intuition". Even though the mix of progressive song structuring and melodic death metal fire on "The Forever Endeavor" succeeds, the style has been perfected in every sense of the word on "Sinner's Intuition". Each of these eight tracks is simply outstanding. The melodies are infectious and the guitar work of Joe DeGroot and Steve Stell instinctually tight, and filled with fantastic riffs, expert melodic interplay, and vibrant solos. The range of vocalist Steven Sagala is expansive and gripping. Last but not least, the tightness, coloring, and sonic heft of drummer David Swanson and bassist Eric Kava is most impressive.

Chunky riffs and searing solos would be nothing without good songwriting, and ENFORSAKEN hits a grand slam on every single tune. "Witness to the Fall" sports a fantastic stop-start chorus, "Halo of Ruin" a killer hook, and "Sever the Ties" a near perfect blend of tempo shifts, chunky grooves, and melancholic tunefulness. Sagala's vocal style and pattern mastery are a driving force behind the infectious essence of the songs. In addition to an accomplished deep and decipherable growl, Sagala's low-end, "clean" (in a Viking metal way) adds depth to the aforementioned "Witness to the Fall", as well as the big, fist-pumping chorus of "Enemy Angel", and one especially moving section of "The Course to Oblivion".

In every instance, the melody is so well integrated that the aggressiveness of the compositions is never in question. When the band pulls out all the stops and goes for the throat, the result is equally compelling. The up-tempo fervor and fiery guitar interplay of "Blacklist Assassin" and the mid-tempo chunk of "The Slain" (also including a semi-spoken vocal section) are the prime examples.

I would be the last person to say that a band playing a Swedish style of melodic death metal has cornered the market on originality. The plain and simple fact of "Sinner's Intuition" is that it is a shining example of the best the genre has to offer.

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