In the extreme metal underground, it's live, or die by the demo. Collected, traded, but above all cherished, the demo by far makes up metals most commonly released form of music. However, it is not just the overwhelming quantity that makes metal demos an anomaly within music; it's their quality. Take for instance a group such as Von; formed in 1988, this raw, filth proto-black metal band never released a full-length record, yet their 1992 demo Satanic Blood
remains to be one of the most highly regarded releases within the extreme metal community. Even if not influential, recent demos from band's such as New England's Frontier or Santa Cruz's mysterious Sleepwalker perfectly showcase the bands talent, and all in one short, sweet, sitting. Fitting more so into the latter category, Engraved who formed in 1992 unfortunately was a band that never made it past the demo stage; however, thanks to the supreme compositional content found on their sole demo Before The Tales
their legacy will always live on strong for those who have had the privilege of hearing it.
Before The Tales
features a sound that is truly a marriage of Sweden's resident death metal scenes of the time; combining the overall tone of Stockholm's somewhat heavier brand of death metal with the reliance on melody that made Gothenburg famous, Engraved's burgeoning sound is quite unique, especially for its time in 1995. Vocalist Johan Eklund displays some great versatility ranging from hoarse, guttural bellows to higher pitched rasp with apparent ease. Closing track "Calm and Crimson" even features some clean vocals, which despite being used on the most minimal of scales fits right in with the raging instrumentals. On second track, "Shores of Despair (A Journey in Grief Pt. 2)" guitarists Nils Norberg and Andreas Nilsson (who was also a member of the famous Swedish melodic black metal band Naglfar) provide not only meaty, downtuned, riffery, but also let their classic metal influences shine through, creating a bridge with a supremely melodic harmonized guitar solo. "Winter Sleep", which opens a softly played acoustic guitar intro hints at some possible black metal influence, with intertwining tremolo picked guitars taking precedence over the usual death metal guitar fare. Drummer Nils Eriksson may not be the most original or even the best drummer, yet on Before The Tales
he certainly gets the job done; from the mid to high tempos the songs range from, his drumming is steady, even and tight, never exceeded the standards but always meeting them. Although his appearance often to brief or minuscule to really make any criticisms (well besides almost being non-existent), bassist Patrik Hellström gets some time to shine during "Shores of Despair (A Journey In Grief Pt. 2)" , letting his low end shine brightly, with interesting note choices which thankfully, deviate from the guitars.
It seems Engraved's time as a band was cut way too short; with three demos of the utmost excellence under their belt, it would be a waste of genuine talent for everything to just end so suddenly. Perhaps this was the mindset of Johan Ecklund, as it was announced but a short while ago, the band would be reforming, coming together again to create brand new material. Will it live up to past victories? Who knows, but at least we can sleep safely knowing what they are capable of.