Review Summary: Before there was Whalecore...there was old school death metal and before there was any drunkard accordion toting warriors in Finland there was...Convulse
It’s a scientifically proven fact that Scandinavia excels at creating bomb ass heavy metal. Whether it be black, death, doom, power or experimental, the Scandinavians clean house in just about every major category. Finland however differs from their neighboring brothers and sisters in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Mostly producing gay melodic black, death, and folk metal bands, Finland has been branded as a bunch of drunkards that like to fiddle with the accordion (Fintroll), the violin (Turisas) and other various party instruments. Despite being grounded and pounded by the Vikings on numerous occasions, none of this seemed to translate into the raw aggression that birthed the Swedish death metal and Norwegian black metal scenes. Or so I thought…
Just when I thought I’d given up on acquiring brutal Finnish music I came across this nifty little outfit called Convulse. Formed in 1988, the band released just two full lengths before fading into obscurity. Their first release though, 1992’s World Without God, is a powerful blast of old school death metal that should appeal to each and every fan of the traditional Stockholm/Tampa Bay Sound. Muddy production, buzz saw riffing, guttural vocals, and crushing rhythms with a substantial amount of melody is the name of the game here. Fans of Nihilist’s demo compilation, early Dismember, Incantation and Entombed will have a field day with this competently arranged gem.
The aspect about old school Scandinavian death metal that stands out to me the most above any other scene is the primal musicianship and simplistic punk rock influenced song writing structures that no matter how many times done, it always sounds great and the hooks are always infectious. Starting with the vocals. Unleashed, Dismember, Nihilist, it doesn’t matter which band in the scene you take for example. Guttural growls/roars have become a tradition in this style of music and Rami Jamsa fails to deliver anything less than a stellar performance. His vocals provide an unearthly sense of aggression to tack onto the already vicious onslaught of brutality. Lyrically he remains obscured by the deepness of his roar but judging from song titles “World Without God”, “False Religion”, and “Godless Truth”, it’s pretty clear that their hatred is directed towards the guy up stairs in the pearly gates.
The band’s guitar duo, consisting of names I cannot spell or pronounce, exceeded my expectations with a mastering of tempos and arrangements. At times doomy and sluggish, Convulse can easily shift from dirge like nature to blitzkrieg at the drop off a hat, successfully marking their ability to manipulate aggression. World Without God isn’t just lumbering passages and break neck grooves though, the duo also craft compelling melodies and harmonies to break up the monotony. The opening clean guitar on closing track “Power Struggle” Of Belief makes for an epic introduction and the flickering solos found elsewhere play off nicely with the album‘s heaviness. Also worth mentioning is the experimentation of keyboards. The haunting church bells on “Putrid Intercourse” inject sinister ambience to the blistering death metal template. “Godless Truth” imports a decidedly Emperor-esque symphonic black metal flavor to crushing Scandinavian death. These sparse elements remain otherwise minimal therefore resulting in a sense of unpredictability and personality for Convulse.
Bass wise Juha plays his instrument pretty well and remains high enough in the mix to remain an object of interest. Most of the time you’re listening to an old school death metal record, the bass is tuned low, Dethklok style. Not here though, his tone permeates nicely through the dense layers of production. “Blasphemous Verses” is a prime example worthy of mentioning. Opening in an ominous manner with the bass and the guitar melody feeding off each other, the song metaphorically lacerates the listener for awhile before finally just severing the limbs and ending the predicament. Juha’s rhythm section partner, either Perr Lind or Janne Miikkulainen, I cant really verify, solidifies his position well with a steady stream of double bass and militant drum rolls. Adjustments are made to match the varying tempos of the music, but the patterns are always played consistently and competently.
Originally, I thought this album suffered from a bit of repetition here and there but the more I listen to the album, the more I love it for what it is. Other than that, I find no complaints and/or flaws with “World Without God”. Released before Slaughter Of The Soul and just after Like An Ever Flowing Stream/ Left hand Path, lies a satanic beast of a death metal record that lies in waiting to be uncovered from it‘s Megatron like entombment. Purists of the old guard will definitely love but I recommend this to newer listeners as well.