From the opening crush of “Fleshengine Breakdown,” the triple guitar charge of Massachusett’s Beyond the Embrace takes off like a bat out of hell and doesn’t let up for the next 44 minutes. Ok, three guitars—I know you’re thinking the Outlaws or Lynyrd Skynyrd, but no, think (new) Iron Maiden, and you’re on the right track. Throw in a little Chuck Billy (vocalist from Testament), added to the stoner metal swagger of vocalist Shawn Gallagher, and you’ve got the sonic brew known as Beyond the Embrace.
On Insect Song, their second Metal Blade release, the tempos change, but the intensity and the consistently strong song writing never let up. “Plague” finds vocalist Shawn Gallagher upping the power level while the band picks up the pace. Other standout cuts include “. . .Of Every Strain,” “The Weak and the Wounded,” the barnburner, “Redeemer,” and the closing track, “Within.” Oscar Gouveia heads up the guitar army, handling most of the leads. Alex Botelho and Jeff Saude hold down the rhythm with Adam Gonzalves on bass and Kevin Camille on drums keeping the monster beat.
At any given time, there are moments reminiscent of Testament, In Flames, and (Wiseblood era) Corrosion of Conformity, but not enough to be distracting. The stellar production of Ken Susi, from labelmates Unearth, and the inspired performances make this one of the more solid metal releases so far this year. Undeniably catchy, heavy, and dirty. . .