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Friday, August 19, 2022

Review: Eufobia – Madness

Label: Wizard LTD.

Date: June 10th, 2022

I’ll come clean right from the start. I know this band from before. My introduction to them happened about a decade ago when my band opened for them on, what I think, was their first appearance on a stage in Serbia. Plus, I believe my band debuted in Novi Sad that very night. And that’s just about all I can remember. It was a long night, that one.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian commando comes up with their third full length record. And it is, by far, the best they’ve come up with so far. A definite step in the right direction. One of, I hope, many yet to come. With “Madness”, Eufobia easily steps alongside Enthrallment, probably the best known Bulgarian death metal band, in international regard.

Yes, I’m aware the comparison with Enthrallment is extremely loose, considering the country of origin and the roof genre. However, they’re heading in opposite directions musically. Namely, Eufobia uses so many more influences and mixes them up to form a sound not often heard before.

The death metal this quartet brings along is quite melodic. Though brutal enough, particularly if you add such defiant lyrics, one can spot more than enough Arch Enemy tutoring. Melodic leads and solos bring that perspective right to the front. Also, Eufobia thrashes quite comfortably throughout, and even in that regard, they’re mixing this up a bit. One can easily think of recent outings of, let’s say, Kreator, as well as the champions of new wave melodic thrash, like Bullet For My Valentine. On top of all that, there’s the obvious hint at Machine Head. The new Machine Head, with a pinch of melancholy involved.

Speaking of that melancholy, I believe that Eufobia somewhat missed the emotional effect such fragments evoke in the listener. Especially, again, in consideration of the lyrics which remain defiant, hate-filled and quite aggressive all the while. Like in the final track, “Animal Farm”, obvious hint at Orwell’s famed novel. It closes with musical anticlimax, so to speak, while the lyrics call for rebellion, pointing out the same message Mr. Orwell had in mind when writing the story. There’s perhaps one or two similar examples on the record. Those are the moments Bulgarians should be working on for the next releases. Atmospherics just don’t fit on those occasions.

Still, the majority of the release fits like a glove. After all, it is written in the inlay that the record is “dedicated to those who lost their lives defending the freedom of others”. That should tell you everything you need to know about the themes covered on “Madness”.

Furthermore, the album is crafted real carefully and provides a great listening session. Or a couple of them, to be exact. “Madness” is very colorful, creatively speaking. The string lines offer a simplistic approach, enriched with just enough technicalities to make it intriguing without endless wanderings into the unknown (read: boring). These are not the riffs you’ve heard before countless times. They do not let you use Eufobia as background noise for whatever chores you’re about to do. In that sense, the rhythm section does a magnificent job. Drums in particular, as the record is exquisitely dynamic. All due to the playful arranging behind the skins.

One more aspect of Eufobia I’m not a particularly big fan is the grunting vocal. It is okay while there’s that scream or a classic growl involved, but as soon as it goes down to those grunts, it loses expressiveness. It’s sort of “mushy”. It works well in a combo with the growl. The band uses that combo fairly often and it sounds much better than leaving the gutturals all alone.

Yet, overall, this is a great record. Definitely the finest Eufobia had issued to date. It is a quantum leap from where they were. The third album’s make-or-break reputation has been successfully jumped over. With ease, I might add. “Madness” is, to my ears, what Eufobia has been striving for, all these years. Now they have a distinctive mark of their own. Influences are “bagged and tagged”, fused into what the Bulgarians can clearly dub “Eufobia sound”. All that’s left to do is basically to push this album as far as possible, to try and gain further global recognition.