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The birth of death metal was a brutal sonic revolution that took violence in music to a new level and spawned several different styles, amongst them the Scandinavian variants. The Finnish scene, though extremely short-lived, has been having a more distinctive impact in this new world order where being retro is again being on vogue, and Convulse was definitely one of the seminal names of that northern country. They only released a couple of albums before falling off the edge of the world, but their 1991 opus, World Without God, will forever remain as a testimonial of putrid and vile death metal. To this day the immersive atmosphere and brutish persona of that unrelenting album still strikes many as a beastly impersonation of what death metal should be, thus making it a standout point and a reference in terms of where to find a fountain of influences to sip from. So when news arrived that Convulse themselves would release a new studio work I had high hopes for it. Sadly though, these hopes were rapidly trampled beneath twelve minutes of nothingness.
It’s not that I couldn’t have lived with such a small body of work after almost twenty silent years. But when that small window presents nothing but a clinically produced rehashing of past glories, as if somehow the band now decided to release some B-sides, I can’t stop nodding my head in disapproval. The title track is the first to emerge with a derivative Autopsy-styled riff that could be easily recognizable from afar. Atmosphere is the main goal trying to be achieved with this olden and foul breath, but the aforementioned plastic production just makes it unconvincing. The drums sound too plastic and there’s no foreboding atmosphere created, no sense of dread forced onto you. Instead there’s clean, modern sounding, by the book death metal. Small changes in pace are set here and there through a more upbeat drumming style that brings recollections of the old days, yet the song never seems to take off and constantly remains uneventful. The break by the third minute is cool but again the song seems to lack a sense of direction, and most importantly a climax. And that “Raining Blood” styled outro comes off as completely anticlimactic to say the least.
With six minutes gone and such little warmth coming from their passing, one would then expect the next song, “God Is Delusion”, to be a real treat. Instead an acoustic guitar tries to bring memories of “Powerstruggle Of Belief”, but ends up sounding way too forced to have a real impact. The riffing employed also doesn’t help, being more interested in an off-kilter groovy stance rather than crushing the listener with its weight. To be honest though this second song is more interesting in terms of the dynamics presented, but it ends up faltering where it counts the most, the riffs. The shifts between the groovy sections and the sped up muscled parts are interesting, but the main backbone comes out as unconvincing and unnatural. And in the end that’s all there is to tell. Twelve minutes and two songs where Convulse come out as an uninspired old band that decided to make a comeback. One would expect such a legacy to have more weight in a new studio work, but much to my dismay Inner Evil fails miserably in being anywhere relevant or even good in today’s world. It just shows a completely insipid face that really isn’t what this band stands for. Do yourself a favour and ignore it.
Originally written for and posted at The Metal Observer
Little did I know when reviewing "World Without God" three years ago that old school Finnish brutal death metallers Convulse were about to join the reformation wagon. I noted how the re-release of the album showcased a very heavy and dark DM band but one that ultimately possessed nothing ground-breaking; now over 20 years later with only 2 of the original 4 members back in the band, we have a curiously short 2-track EP, "Inner Evil". Why only 2 tracks and 12 minutes of music you ask? I wish I knew. Surely some other material could have been tacked on to make this more worthwhile?
For what we have though is a performance surprisingly similar to the old material but in a production that if anything is a little blunter. "Inner Evil" starts slowly in 11th Hour-styled death/doom before breaking a minute in to Asphyx-ian territories of hazardous death metal. The callousness of Rami Jämsä's vocals remain - he gargles sandpaper in his churn pushing the end result to a greater degree of brutality. The swirling riffs that follow his chorus vocal lines in "Inner Evil" make an impression from the first listen (not always something that can be said about death metal) although the long Entombed-esque outro the song could have reduced to increase the song's overall potency. "God Is Delusion" begins acoustically before the charge of drums and grunts arrive - the metallic thud of the snare drum is a notable goregrind touch that I could do without - but the song overall mixes downcast moments of doom in fairly neatly with the medium tempo on it's flipside. Gentle and fluid solos abound, the final two minutes drag before that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Moments of interest are there for the intrigued, but why could we not have had more?
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
Convulse is another case of an early death metal act which has, in the wake of a long-term absence, developed an enormous following due to the fact that their debut, World Without End hits all the right notes with the latest generations of fans seeking out the crushing, atmospheric, authenticity that used to run rabid in the genre during the earlier half of the 90s. One could certainly not argue that the widespread proliferation of the internet has bolstered the Finns' audience, and the cult tatters of legend status began to circulate around their name. Fast forward 18 years after their more divisive sophomore Reflections (which saw a marginal shift in sound) and we've got the inevitable reunion material, and already I've seen a number of early listeners citing disappointment...
Yes, you guessed it: these new tracks are not EXACTLY World Without End 2.0, but really, what would any sane individual expect? Convulse was a group which had already moved on from that precise aesthetic before embarking on their nearly two-decade hiatus. To their credit, and to the relief of many who will hear this with fresh ears, I think the Finns have done a pretty damn good job of updating their old sound. The fundamental songwriting here is not at all unlike that of those formative years, and the major differences come in terms of production, which feels cleaner and perhaps a fraction less ominous than the debut. Otherwise, the guitars still have a lot of that sodden groove to them, sullen lapses into death/doom sequences, and ruddy streams of mutes which still churn, even without that muddy and swamp-like tone of olde. Coupled with evil, archaic death metal melodies (like those late in "Inner Evil" itself) or the brute, brunt gutturals of Rami Jämsä, the EP absolutely recycles its ancient inspirations, both musically and lyrically. Hell, "God is Delusion" is more or less a spiritual successor to the title track or "Godless Truth" from World Without End, and it remains pretty clear: you won't be meeting with these dudes at Bible Studies on the next Sabbath.
I did feel that there was a small gulf here between the quality of two tracks. "Inner Evil" is the more direct and pummeling of the pair, but I felt the more atmospheric fulfillment of "God Is Delusion" was superior, from the great acoustic intro to the somber, mourning melodies which permeate its slower hooks. The latter simply sticks with me longer. Once in awhile the band will pull off a riff or two which just doesn't seem all that interesting, and overall there is not a whole lot of creativity here, which I would think might actually satisfy a certain portion of the purist audience who want their death delivered with no frills, dressings, or progression. But ultimately, I thought these two tunes were above average, keeping me interested at least past a few spins. The bass is fluid and fragrant with the din of rot-blossoming corpses, the drums keep a great pace with some really organic fills and primitive blasts for the faster sequences, the guitars rich and chunky. The vocals are a bit monotonous but to be truthful I felt this way also of their debut. Fitting to the tunes, but a bit more character and less predictability would enhance the experience.
I feel like I had a reaction to this EP comparable to how I felt about the latest Incantation full-length, if not nearly so positive or pronounced: it's the same band, only tidier and more matured through the seasons, but they're still playing the music true to themselves. If Convulse can create a proper album with at least this level of songwriting, I don't see how that could be a bad thing, and supporters of that old Finnish axis of evil which also includes Demigod and Demilich should not be too turned off. Decent stuff.