Longstanding Norwegian trio Enthral have no problems fitting into the hordes of excellent bands that the Scandinavian scene seems to crank out effortlessly. While they aren’t considered one of the leading bands in the Norwegian scene, Enthral are clearly not lacking in talent. With three full-lengths over the course of their roughly 15-year career, Enthral have been slowly sharpening their black metal assault, and their latest EP Spiteful Dirges shows a band firing on all cylinders. But while the band’s feverish, constantly shifting black metal sound is impressive from a technical standpoint, the songwriting and complex nature of Spiteful Dirges ultimately keeps it from being memorable.
The three songs on the album vary between mid-paced, creepy passages reminiscent of Watain or Ondskapt and tremolo picked masses of icy brutality that bring them closer to bands like Enthroned or Marduk. Enthral cram a whole lot into each song – expect frequent, jolting tempo changes, occasional softer parts, and some very intricate guitar interplay. While this definitely makes for an interesting listen, it unfortunately also means that none of the interesting concepts that the band write get any real time to develop. I sometimes found myself wishing that these guys had chosen to spread things across a few more songs and explore some of their riffs and ideas a bit more, rather than letting them disappear among the mass of chaotic riffage of the EP’s three tracks. That aside, Spiteful Dirges is definitely deserving of a listen, and should at least have black metal fans keeping an eye out for the next release from these guys.