These days it's getting harder to distinguish between what is, in essence, pure heavy metal and the melodic end of death metal/extreme metal/whatever hook you want to hang it on. Which, in the name of progression, can only be positive for those in the latter categories like Chicago's ENFORSAKEN.
However, if it's "songs" you're looking for — and the majority of people most likely are — then a solid JUDAS PRIEST album — as opposed to the melodic mish-mash that shoots relentlessly from the DARK TRANQUILITY-esque grooves of "The Forever Endeavor" — will always be the clincher for assured craft, catchiness and the ability to work out the old neck muscles.
While it's not entirely fair to pass off a debut album against thirty years of hardened experience, "The Forever Endeavor" is one that, from the sounds of the big riff pile-ups that are "Tales Of Bitterness" and "Dead Night, Dead Light", could've profited from a bit more trimming and condensing of ideas. Certainly, within both songs, riffs are smooth-flowing, solos sweet to every last finger-fret and everything runs with military precision — but there's simply too much of it bereft of the "wow" factor, and if you didn't bother to watch the track display on your stereo, you'd be hard pushed to tell where one of these tracks ends and a different one starts. After all, if DREAM THEATER can make things stick in the conscience with every chord progression known to man, then you expect a bit more from those working with less.
It's ironic to see that Niklas Sundin from DARK TRANQUILLITY (themselves hard to persevere with after a short listening period) has yet again stepped in with his art set for the cover because much of the mid-paced material such as "Cloaked in Need" is, as mentioned, reminiscent of the Gothenburg mood metallers — think single-minded gruff vocals over twee, overwrought guitar lines.
Far more instant are the moments when the band throw caution — and a few blast beats — to the wind on "Poison Me" — the frantic, slightly less complex side of ENFORSAKEN that, ironically, the band probably won't lean too heavily on as they evolve further.
When you prize apart the tangled web of ideas, there is a band with great potential underneath. And therefore, it's one of the few times when it can truly be said that a very open, clear, mud-free production can give you just way more than you really need.