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Eucharist's first album demonstrates a full spectrum of musical possibilities, in all aspects concerned, of the melodically-enhanced union of black and death metal styles, otherwise known as the 'Gothenburg' style of metal, a type of metal that began with such promise before quickly devolving into essentially revved-up power metal with death growls. The music functions and flows in a similar vein as early At the Gates and Dissection, with streaming melodies of the fast-picked tremolo variety guiding songs through a series of thematically defined movements in progressive structures, threading a flowing motion of delicate beauty through a multi-tiered structural carving of raw and dark emotion in a continuous process of existential self-discovery and observational perception of external conflicts, executed with deadly instrumental precision.
"Foremost in our march of insurrection
I am the creation and destruction
A purpose of all scarifies
I am all what was meant to be"
A Velvet Creation introduces itself with the dancing notes of a quickly plucked classical guitar, then menacingly cuts these pleasant tones with a single snare drum shot, immediately after which an electric guitar chord is struck with an unforgiving tone of ominous darkness, slamming its way through the sound before taking shape in a phrase of fast alternating of ascending/descending notes, as a series of abrupt and intense tempo changes occurs following the completion of the opening phrase. They call it "Greeting Immortality", and like the rest of the songs on this album, it relishes its method of presenting an introductory theme that defines its overriding concept by orchestrating a diverse representation of that concept through numerous changes in accord with the explored perspective, reconciling its conflicts through either a thematically revealing return to the original introductory theme or a transitional re-routing of a song's course towards a newly developed transformation of the definitive idea.
Most impressive from the technical aspect is the fluidity and precision of the execution, which gives this music a graceful quality of pure instrumental accuracy and detailed delivery, seamlessly moving through its often charging and dramatic progressions with nimbleness and finesse, aided in sound by the sharp clarity of instrumental definition provided by the coldly reverberating studio production. This instrumental exactitude gives a clear and sharply defined presentation in performance of these involved structural designs, highlighted by the rhythmic fluency of highly active but rhythmically contained percussion, featuring playful double bass acrobatics and expert precision of beat definition which is careful not to obstruct harmonic flow, and excellent conception and delivery of lead guitar melodies and solos which course through the music as a guiding source of articulation, the perceptive crest of this dark illumination in musical form.
"Once my eye moved mountains
My sword could pierce like lightning
and on the back of my horse I traveled
Through eternal voids
within the timeless sphere"
Steeped in enigmatic symbolism, the well-crafted and insightful lyrics explore an abstract range of perspectives on metaphysical themes, culled from the realm of both introspective and peripheral experience, given voice through a rage of expressive tone, a raw vocal scream of frustration, torment, and determination, delivered with the weight of emotional conviction, discernibly articulated, and arranged in accordance with rhythmic flow, though flexibly expressed within that construction, with sudden, alarming increases in tone and urgency when emphasizing the significance of an exclamation.
While compositional coherence varies between songs, when Eucharist nail it, as in the aforementioned "Greeting Immortality", the visionary nightsky invasion of "Into the Cosmic Sphere", or the 2 1/2 minute blast of sublime excited terror of perceptive realization that is "Once My Eye Moved Mountains", they portray a mastery of the melodic blackened death metal craft rivaling the best of the style. The music is charged with the energy flowing from the joy and motivation of meaningful creativity, and in that moment of artistic conjuration, actualizing a journey of universal discovery through its deep-reaching inward investigation.
Melodic death metal is pretty much a household fact of life for the metal head of the 21st century, but 16 years ago, very few bands were promoting it. Eucharist was one of the formative artists to adopt and help mold the path it continues to blaze today, after a few turbulent years that involved an early breakup (the band was formed in '89, but this album did not see release until 1993). Upon your first listen experience with A Velvet Creation, you'll notice that the band did not sound much like their peers, with a melancholic spin on the style that was a little closer to the death metal aesthetic. The album is distanced from the brutal variety, but the melodies were a little more subtle than the classic power metal tint infused into the sounds of Dark Tranquillity (whose debut Skydancer also debuted this year) and In Flames (whose debut Lunar Strain would arrive in 1994). The riffing was more carnal here, despite the gothic elegance of the lyrics and songwriting.
There are some advocates who would tell you that A Velvet Creation, and Eucharist, were superior to either of those bands (even At the Gates), but here I must disagree. Though the album flows from front to back with a delicate balance of grace and terror, the individual songs don't stand out nearly as much as the forthcoming mid-90s classic Slaughter of the Soul, The Jester Race, or The Gallery. In retrospect, this debut is a decent curiosity, but nothing more, and it was soon buried in the piles of praise for its peers. Drummer Daniel Erlandsson would himself leave for In Flames and Arch Enemy, touring and a few substantial paychecks, and original bassist Tobias Gustafsson (who played on this album) would depart to Armageddon.
Alas, my intention is not to sound too down on this album, because it's certainly not bad. But, unlike wine, it has not grown any tastier with age, and my moderate appreciation in birth has not increased through the years of adolescence. Classical acoustic guitar pulls and plucks its way into Erlandsson's double bass and the righteous old school death rhythm of "Greeting Immortality" (from their earlier demo), while Markus Johnsson's vocals tear across the realms of black and death metal infinity and his bass thunders below. The song was pretty popular in its demo days, and a natural choice to open the record with some class and energy. "The Religion of the Blood-Red Velvet" moves at a mid pace, with grim yet festive churning and chugging guitars balanced with simple, complementary melodies. Like most of the material here, it's good, just not great by any means, nor is the following "March of Insurrection", despite its steady thrash chugging and raw, emotional bridge that leads into an average melodic death charge. "My Bleeding Tears", despite its rather emo title, starts with a drum battery over bass plodding and then a pretty powerful rhythm, though this doesn't stand still for long as the guitars erupt into a pair of bleeding tears steadily rolling down the blinded eyes of the cover figure. The bow sound at the 1:30 really adds to the gothic atmosphere of the track, and Johnsson's pulls out some nice bass lines that swagger below the guitars at around 2:10.
Behold my bleeding tears
Because you will never understand
How I feel
Like a lot of melodic death in these days (as well as early gothic metal), the lyrics read like so much empty poetry. But at least they match the album's atmosphere and the solemn guitars. "Floating" commences with some more acoustic lines, and then develops into some pretty cool guitar effects and leads that wind through the verse, probably one of the deeper and more interesting tracks on this album. The title track is my clear favorite, with some great tone to the dual, driving guitars as they thread their woeful notes through a saddened black heart. When Johnsson's vocals are matched to this rhythm a little later on, the album becomes sheer bliss, if only for a moment. "Into the Cosmic Sphere" has a good charge to it, with even more of the subtle, dual melodies that were the signature for their sound. Another great riff here, at 1:30, gloomy and gorgeous, and beneath the vocals, it bears a lot in common with early melodic doom ala Paradise Lost. "Once My Eye Moved Mountains" is a killer song title and one of the album's better pieces to boot. Though the verse strives over a pretty average melodeath riff (which we'd be hearing, many thousands of times over the next decade or so), the lead is fairly infectious and the whole song quite energetic.
There are no hidden surprises here. The album might sound a little thin to the modern ear, but this is really how its melodies manage to shine through. I rather prefer the honesty of the atmosphere to many of today's severely overdubbed, digitized, sterile recordings. As for the writing: half of the songs are good, the other half average, the lyrics a mixed bag, and nothing here that I'd go out of my way to hear. But if you've got a nostalgia for the roots of this style, you'll find it was a pretty obvious influence on many bands to follow, and it's palatable enough alongside a glass of bitter sweet wine, Skydancer, and the first two At the Gates records.
Highlights: Floating, A Velvet Creation, Into the Cosmic Sphere
Eucharist is a Swedish death metal band that knows exactly how to use melody from heavy metal and weave it into death metal. This so many times in melodic death metal bands run into tedious songwriting and riffs that are uninspired; a perfect example of this is post Alf At the Gates. When thinking about the Swedes and their melodies the listener expects sweeping melodies, and in this album that’s exactly what the listener is presented with. Each song has a melody that Eucharist keeps through many riffs, like many previous thrash bands (Slayer for example).
So what distinguishes Eucharist from its peers is this hard to do genre? Well it’s the fucking riffs and putting them together in a way that isn’t tedious. Eucharist has load and loads of riffs in this album, yet they also keep a emotion in them. Not ever do they linger on a catchy riff just for the catchiness of it; every riff flows into the next for a hypnotic headbanging greatness. Eucharist also uses a lot of harmonies throughout the album, and they are weaved in and out of the tremolo picked riffs. These subtleties shine through with multiple listens, because they aren’t banking on in your face hooks; although, the tremolo picked riffs kick your face in at the start, the songwriting lulls you into the song by making those tremolo picked riffs hypnotic. What makes the riffs so hypnotic is the drumming because it’s simplistic and rarely deviates from the standard old school death metal beat or blast beat. They use the drumming counter to what the riffs are doing, an example of this is the blast beats over slow riffs and the slow beat over a fast tremolo picked riff.
Although this album is fucking solid, hypnotic, and riffy all the way through it lacks in substance and atmosphere to put it as one of the greats in the genre. The lyrics are standard old school death metal, and the atmosphere is of the standard evilness in old school death metal; however, the riffs and brilliant songwriting make it a phenomenal release. Highly recommended for those people into old school death metal.
Often dismissed as a mundane Gothenburg band, Eucharist are highly underrated on the underground circuit. This, their first of two releases, is one of the gems of Swedish metal, up in the ranks of classics like "The Nocturnal Silence". Indeed, I'd guess that this album is developing the path set by Necrophobic, but as it came out in the same year as TNS, I'm not sure which came first.
With "A Velvet Creation", Eucharist create unusually eerie and ominous death metal with a great sense of melody and rhythm. The album possesses a sense of swirling colours, due to its chaotic structure both vertically and horizontally.
The harmonic interplay between the guitars is frankly awesome - in that respect the band is almost unrivaled. The bass adds real depth to the melodies, and sounds somewhat jazzy at times (in a good way). Eucharist are clearly technically superb, and although the drum-production leaves a bit to be desired (the snare sounds a bit too 'slappy'), the drumming itself is excellent - giving the recording life while not being too 'showy'. I'd also like to praise the acoustic intro to "Greeting Immortality", which I find to be very beautiful and apt.
There's an almost constant sense of ambience in this album (sometimes rather Slayer-esque) thanks to the terrific drumming, and in particular it comes into use when an anti-climax is attempted. This works superbly for the most part, but occasionally feels slightly shallow and uninvolving, possibly due to a lack of subtlety, either in production or songwriting. Other flaws; in places I don't like the vocal delivery, or indeed the lyrics themselves. There is a slight immaturity present, inevitable as the band were amazingly only 15/16 when writing this, but that's why it only gets 80.
If narrative, complex, epic melodic death is something you enjoy, pick this one up. Quickly.
This album is a compact representation of everything that is good in regards to melodic death metal. I find it difficult to proclaim that anything is truly groundbreaking or mesmerizing, however, the absence of filler and pretentiousness that may plague other bands of the genre makes for a solid listening experience.
First and foremost, the production is pretty awful for this style of music. Moderately paced songs played in a style reminiscent of early At The Gates require a sharper edge to the guitars and a nice balance between the drums and the vocals. Often the bass drum sounds like an annoying click and the vocals echo too much, detracting from their decidedly low presence in the mix. Ultimately, the tremolo picked riffs and the lead guitar pack enough of a punch to take front seat, and I eventually found myself unconcerned with the mentioned problems.
Each song is appropriately played out, with the exception of “Floating”, which could have easily been cut down to four or five minutes without sacrificing anything. The acoustic intro to “Greeting Immortality” is fitting, and the lead break in “March of Insurrection” around the three-minute mark does not detract from the pace of the song. Fortunately, Eucharist knew when to focus on riffs, and when to avoid throwing in a crappy solo or lead without much purpose.
Ultimately, I would recommend looking into this. It stands with “The Book of Truth” by Ceremonial Oath and “The Red in the Sky is Ours” by At The Gates as an album that provides a nice summary of the genre without leaning towards ridiculous repetition and stolen Iron Maiden riffs.