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Wow, is this ever a creepy album! Coming from Sweden with some artwork that makes me think of Left Hand Path and pea soup, you know you're getting into something dark and disgusting.
It's Swedish. I've said that, and it sounds like it, but with a bit murkier production and some nearly sloppy playing. This could pass for a demo, granted a well-made and enjoyable demo. The drums blast along, slowing down a few times to bring that "you're fucked" doom feeling, but most of the time, it's a straight thrash beat, and it feels like it's going to fly off the rails at any moment. And fuck, those guitars are the ugliest sounding beasts I've probably ever heard. Imagine the classic Swedish sound of chainsaw guitars, done up cheap, add bass, and have the pick actually scraping the strings in the tremolo parts...that part sounds like soft cheese squeaking against your teeth. Damn, I'm almost uncomfortable thinking about that sound!
And speaking of riffs...this has more in common with Mexican death metal (Cenotaph, Shub Niggurath, and early the Chasm) and the tremolo picking of Darkthrone's Soulside Journey (which is an excellent album, by the way), than Entombed. The influence of those legendary Swedes only pops up when you get to the frantic solos. The groovy parts do, however, recall Grave, with their catchiness and brutality. There's a surprising degree of melody popping up from time to time, not unlike Death's Leprosy, and the morbid riffing of Possessed. But the most "melody" you're really going to get on here is a swept melody over simple riffing or an acoutstic guitar. None of that fruity, frilly Gothenburg stuff here!
One thing I really like are the keyboards; they're way too loud in the mix, and almost improperly mixed, but they sound like the soundtrack from Stephen King's IT. Just take your favourite Casio Beginner $100 keyboard, choose the DARK GOTH ORGAN and play along to some classic Swedish death metal. Goddamn, does this work!
Cemetary made gothic doom stuff for the rest of the career, with some forays into a relatively "mainstream," melodic direction. But not here. No, this is the album that gives Hot Topic children and pseudo-metal emo kids nightmares and sends them into endless psychiatric care for the rest of their mortal lives. I can think of no other album on which the guitar tone alone can scare the piss out fo the sensitive.
The Swedish death metal scene evolved approximately in 1990. Around that time a lot of Swedish bands had very similar sound and style. Scratchy distortion, fast riffs, grubby vocals, filthy lyrics and room for recording errors are a few examples of highly common characteristics is the genre. Bands like: Entombed, Grave and Dismember took the lead in that music-style and quickly dozens of other bands started to form. all with a very alike sound, that isn't so original as it was many years ago. Cemetary however didn't blindly follow all those groups up, they created their own innovative brand of death metal. The only band I know that comes close to the style of Cemetary is the “Old” Sentenced.
Yes, they have scratchy distortion and fast riffs etc., but they have, like I said; “Their own innovative brand of death metal”. Let me explain why. Cemetary takes their time when they have to. Quite some bands out there want to get the fastest, most brutal album possible and I guess they would accomplish that if they wouldn’t lack any atmosphere or charm. Cemetary plays at a few different speeds, both slow and epic, a lot of times accompanied by a haunting synth-organ or fast and thrashing, while still keeping it original and brutal by not only playing low notes but creating a clear vision of what’s happening with the melody. At times when the riffs are very dark and full of bass, the production and the groovy-ness are able to produce a tremendous comprehensible sound.
An Evil Shade of Grey is lyrically remarkable, even when reading the lyrics separate from the album. The lines are saturated in an crepuscular ambiance, even though I experience the lyrics not that grim when you also listen to it.
The vocals are nothing new; we have all heard them before, yet somehow they’re different from the rest. ‘Cause at times that Mathias Lodmalm whispers, it remind me of an Agalloch album or an old Opeth album. The vocals are obligated to adapt to the relatively softer parts on the album and he did that flawlessly.
The only spots on the album that I have found are the few moments where the grunts aren’t that full and deep but are too sharp and without any depth. I cannot explain it any better, at those moment they don’t lack any power but are too shallow-sounding. The remain spots aren’t worthy of being mentioned.
All in All, This album is a underrated classic, it is nearly flawless and is original though that it is still obviously Swedish death metal.
Moving mostly at a slower or mid-paced tempo for a rhythmical foundation conducive to a mood of eerie darkness, but with sudden bursts of speed to represent urgent madness of incensed fright, Cemetary applies the defining stylistic features of early 1990s Stockholm Death Metal in a way that produces an obscurely sinister and gloomy atmosphere, using rhythm and tempo as a backdrop to the changing atmospheric landscapes, while lead elements express the substance of theme in a character of twilight distance that whispers behind its savagery that there is something more to this tangible existence. A nefariously undertoned growling voice paces syllabic emphasis along to rhythmic patterns marked out by simplistic but active drumming, while murky riffs enwrap the music in shades of dark actuality illuminated by lucid guitar leads from which emerge transcendent melodies: reality and dreamworld become one in this luridly imaginative music that seeks the uncharted possibilities of a finite existence.
"Revel within your time
but make it last an eternity
because life is not all
that is going to be"
Translucent guitar solos and atmospheric leads inject streaming melodic clarity casting light into the shadows of dark riffs, further illuminated by shimmering but darkly enchanting keyboards used tastefully to highlight passages with ascending splendor in songs that are composed with emphasis on rhythmic variation to orchestrate transitions in thematic mood. The variety of tempo maintains a constant motion of gradual and smooth exchange between slow, doom rhythms and blasting speed, and diverse rates of motion in-between, executed with simplicity as the structural forms call for the imagination within the defining themes of each song to manifest through the design, meaning that any instrumental complexity would pose a threat to atmospheric consistency
Defining the rhythmic construction, rhythm guitars shape an abstract spatial pattern for atmospherically simple drumbeats which direct a fluid rhythmic motion symbolizing a song’s fate, which is realized through a reflective rhythmic conception and its formalization through a progression of riffs. Each song functions on a balance of contrasting darkness with light, like wandering through dark, damp caverns with unexpected and brilliant flashes of radiant light streaming in from mysterious cracks overhead, and in this way Cemetary achieves the beauty in darkness, with atmospheric spaciousness and flowing style of execution that brings each development into clear from its obscure origins, enhanced by a Studio Sunlight production which magnifies the band’s equilibrium of clarity and abstraction through a murky guitar sound and increased resonation on guitar leads and keyboards.
"But so it shall not be
and that I have always known
for on the tree of grief
my fruit has grown"
Drowning in darkness yet never losing sight of the beauty of the experience and therefore its meaning, the music is at times menacing and unforgiving in its gothic horror, but this is starkly contrasted by a Romantic sentiment expressed through the emotional eloquence of the guitar solos and lead melodies, and reaches a certain twilight aura through reflective acoustic guitar passages interwoven into the stream of sound. Due primarily to its late arrival, this album is not usually mentioned in discussions of classic Swedish death metal releases of the time, however An Evil Shade of Grey maintains its relevance and distinction through captivating songwriting, melodic lucidity, atmospheric presence, and expressive character within a gloom-world soundpicture wherein anger and sorrow dance from the dusk of perishing dreams to the dawn of limitless possibility.
Released in 1992, Cemetary’s An Evil Shade Of Grey is a great death/doom metal hybrid from Sweden that is unfortunately buried into obscurity relative to the popularity of Katatonia, a band which is similar in many ways. The one major difference between this and, say, Dance Of December Souls is that Cemetary embraced the death metal aspect of their sound much more than Katatonia did, and personally, I find that to make this a very interesting album to listen to.
The riffs here are the main focus. They’re either catchy, mid to slow-paced death metal riffs, or melodic, doomier, more drawn out riffs that are the trademark of doom metal. What interests me here is the transition between riff styles (the title track is a great example of this at work), which is nothing short of masterful in my opinion. By emphasizing both styles entirely, instead of hiding one underneath the other, Cemetary crafted an album that always keeps the listener interested in the rhythmic elements of the songs. This is the kind of album that will have you racing with a blastbeat for one second, and then transition to a doomy riff topped with an acoustic guitar melody at the next second, but unlike some bands like Opeth where the transition feels a bit forced at times, the transitions here are simply seamless.
Another very interesting element of this album is the layer of synthesized sounds. Whether it’s a chilling collection of a synthesized choir, or an eerie keyboard sound over one of the death metal riffs, the synthesized sounds on this album really add a great deal of depth to the overall sound and make the album sound very textured. Oh yeah, this shit’s nice and creepy, too, which is perfect for that atmosphere that many death/doom bands strive for.
Speaking of that atmosphere, that’s one of the main differences between this and Dance Of December Souls. To me, that sounds more like an album attempting to achieve a depressing, melancholic atmosphere, where this is going for the creepy, lost, “wandering aimlessly in a forest in the middle of nowhere” atmosphere hinted at by the album cover. Needless to say, I think Cemetary succeeded at creating this atmosphere.
The main melodic elements of the album are the lead guitar, which plays the creepy sort of leads and solos that you’d expect on a death/doom album, and an acoustic guitar that appears every so often on top of a doomy riff that tends to mark a drastic shift the dynamics of the song. In all honesty, I don’t think that the acoustic guitar is really necessary on this album, but it does add a nice touch that I certainly appreciate, and it diversifies the sound quite a bit, which is obviously a good thing.
This is, sadly, one of the many forgotten albums of the Swedish death metal scene, but it’s actually quite unique and deserving of much more praise than it currently receives. While it’s definitely different than any of Katatonia’s early albums, I can’t see any reason why a fan of those albums wouldn’t like this. In addition, anyone who wants a bit of atmosphere and melody mixed with their death metal (without sacrificing the great riffs that are often lost when people end up listening to some lame Gothenburg melodeath for this exact reason) should like this as well.
Written for http://thenumberoftheblog.com/
Now, tell me how many bands from Sweden started as death metal ones to turn gothic…well, we have Sentences, Tiamat and these Cemetary. Seems to me that death metal in Sweden, at the beginning of the 90s, was a quite abused genre and anyone wanted to play it. After the explosion of bands like Carnage, Entombed and Dismember, lots of bands jumped on this train.
Anyways, I must admit that each band had its personal style, maybe also because the genre was quite new and each band could add something personal in the sound. In my opinion this Cemetary already showed few signs of what the sound would have become in the near future. Take as example the keyboards part in the opener “Dead Red”. They are quite melodic to fill the atmosphere with gloom. Their death metal, itself, is not so common and far from being the classic one.
It’s a very dark form of death. It’s quite complicated too with lots of tempo changes and guitars duets, especially on the lead lines as you can hear on the following “Where the Rivers of Madness Stream”, where we can find also acoustic arpeggios. The speed is never too high and, in this way, they can point more on the sheer gloom attack. There are few up tempo parts and when we meet them, they are always well balanced and broken by various mid tempo sections. The riffs have always a black metal touch and when the keyboards parts enter the sound, the whole atmosphere is damned obscure.
The vocals are on growls but they are not to extreme, having already the right tonality to sing also in a gothic/doom metal band. The production is quite clear but it has always that old fashioned tune to be really murky. The grotesque riffage on the title track, along with some keys, is one of the sickest things on this album. There are also some up tempo sections. The solos have that occult touch and they are really weird for the strange sounds they put out.
Their almost atmospheric death metal continues in the notes of the doomish “Sidereal Passing”. The up tempo is perfect balanced with gloom and ritualistic, calmer parts. It is very difficult to pass through this forest of tempo changes full of almost inhuman, unnatural and scary keyboards sound. Even the few blast beats parts are incredibly cold and when the lead guitars give the support for the atmosphere, there’s nothing left to live. All seems stone cold. This is a truly weird and murky death metal album and worth a listen for its burden of mystery and occultism.
Here we have yet another great album from the glory years of the Thomas Skogsberg prod. era... What we find here is nothing short of spectacular, melancholic, dark, swedish death. You can guess what the production sounds like, since this was another great record produced at Studio Sunlight. Thick, evil guitar sound, with the traditional rawness that was trademark for that studio in the late 80s/early 90s... Vocally, the style is a bit of a higher style such as Nirvana 2002, etc. etc. as opposed to deepness like Jorgen/Grave... There is sparing use of keyboards minorly just to accent certain points, and they do it wonderfully. There are also some great doomy passages full of feeling, and some small acoustic interludes thrown in for good measure too. All these elements contribute in creating one of the most dark and sick sound from that era. Production on here is just simply scary sounding, the only way to really describe it... Cover artwork was also done by Kristian "necrolord" Wahllin, and he uses his trademark style (that was still developing at this time) to make a visual representation of the evilness found on the recorded material inside... All in all, a perfect swedish deathmetal masterpiece, and still one of my favorite records from that era/genre...