Review Summary: Blend early Morbid Angel with Black Metal and Thrash and make everything darker. What you get is an extremely pleasing performance of Extreme metal. Worth checking out at least once.
Back in the late 90’s when the mighty Florida scene was emerging a band named “Grotesque” (from the demise of which At the Gates rose) was doing its own brand of extreme metal across the ocean. I say extreme because it actually is a mix of death, thrash and black metal. Imagine “Altars of Madness” with thrashy riffs, eerie solos and a darker atmosphere. It is a good description of what the album sounds like.
This album is a collection of songs from the demos the band had created, thus the style from one song to the other can vary a bit. You will understand it during the transition from Angel’s Blood to Nocturnal Blasphemies. It’s not a dramatic change however since all the songs have a certain feeling without that meaning repetition. At the first listen the songs are discernable from each other and with a few more spins they should be easily told apart.
The production of this album is pretty good. There is a thick guitar tone that creates this dark atmosphere. The riffs are as I said thrashy for the bigger part; don’t expect something melodic or heartfelt here. It is an album for those days when you want to headbang or scream along. The bass is pretty much inaudible but the listener can catch a few glimpses here and there. The drumming is awesome however. I don’t know who the drummer was but he certainly pulls it off amazingly. Complex fills and frenetic blast beats that will get you “air blasting” are what the drumming here is.
For the vocal part; I can only say it is top notch. The vocalist is Tomas Lindberg known for his work with At the Gates. Unlike his later works here lower (not gurgly or non understandable) growls and screams are utilized rather than his higher pitched screaming. A lot of emotion is put in the songs as can be easily told creating a great result. If the random screams in Incantation (you’ll know which ones I mean when you hear them) can’t scare you then I don’t know what can.
I would have also liked the lyrics if it was not for a disturbing fact. Lindberg was only 16 at the time. The lyrics were fascinated with Satan or darkness. My point is that I’m not convinced that he knew what he was talking about. Teenagers are impressionable and evil is always fascinating but also evil is a pretty perilous path and not to be taken lightly.
The songs here are either speedy with the intention of getting the listener headbanging like “Spawn of Azathoth” or longer with changes in mood and tempo like “Incantation”. There are also two instrumental tracks (the opener and “Seven Gates”) that have a haunting atmosphere with the second featuring some acoustic work too rather than just the synth effects the opener has. This album also features “Church of the ”. Jeez this song kicked my **s the first time I listened to it and still does. Frenetic and relentless, not to be missed whatsoever.
This album is a lost diamond of Metal. Do yourself a favour and acquire it. I can’t really find any real flaw in this apart from the lyrical part. If you actually buy it, it comes with At the Gates’ first EP “Gardens of Grief” which is similar to this album.
Recommended songs: (pretty much any song could do it but for me)
Church of the