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Evocation would’ve fit well into a What If tale had the band been converted into a Marvel Comics entity sometime before the group's temporary death, which canned activity for this Swedish death metal squad back in 1995. The alternative conundrum stems from the very act of putting Evocation to rest in the first place: would they have achieved the same level of consistency and quality as cohorts like Dismember or At The Gates had they not decided to throw in the towel? Speculation is masturbation. Evocation eventually made its return after fifteen years of eternal silence with "Tales from the Tomb," the band's only full-length album at the time. The body of work throughout the opus, although not excellent, shows an interesting concoction of Entombed-glazed violence mixed with an underlying vitality of melodic elements à la At the Gates or Dismember.
As one might guess, Evocation doesn't come off as some fourth-rate tribute act or an outsider doing its best to act like a Swedish death metal band for the sake of doing so; it's a rather genuine and orthodox relic from this niche of death metal. The album boasts an organic production that delivers an honest guitar crunch and comprehensive clarity without jeopardizing the collective sound Evocation presents. The guitar work focuses on the customary buzzing riffs that are often found in this type of thing, and it's safe to say that most of the guitar parts perform generally well despite having little to offer in terms of originality or deviation. Other aspects of the whole shebang, including the vocals and the drums, are honest recalibrations of this death metal niche—at day’s end, this is truthful and competent to its roots.
However, what Evocation does here is a lot better and natural than the efforts of most, mainly because they were a core piece of the scene's original uprising in the first place and that essence definitely shines through many of their anthems. Several songs have the harsh atmosphere of death metal mixed with a clear coat of melody, which strengthens some very catchy tunes like "Feed the Fire" and "Blessed Upon the Altar." I'm personally more attracted to the less-modern blitzkriegs of "The Dead" and "Chronic Hell," although Evocation usually stays quite consistent throughout the whole journey. The group's cover of Entombed's "But Life Goes on" is savagely redundant and pointless, however; they bring nothing noteworthy or peculiar to this poor choice of tribute. Other cuts overlap at times, but "Tales from the Tomb" still comes out tasty.
As I said, Evocation is another cultural export from Sweden that enjoys gnawing on flesh and killing indiscriminately, and that's pretty much the name of the game when dealing with "Tales from the Tomb." No tricks or unexpected stops come from the work of Evocation, and I find the record to be a satisfactory voyage despite it taking many bits and cues from several death metal classics without bringing anything to the table that would otherwise show Evocation ruling this domain of death metal. "Tales from the Tomb" is quite decent overall, although I feel like its focus dwells on the strength of some of its offerings instead of the whole package. Definitely worth purchasing if you can't get enough of this stuff.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Somewhere along the line, after the members matured and found they still shared the passion for Swedish death metal that they once excelled in for their 90s demos, Evocation got its shit together and decided that the time was right for another foray into not-fame and not-fortune that was the extreme music business. Perhaps the wave of nostalgia for the form that had been rearing itself in the 21st century had something to do with the decision, perhaps the band just took a listen to their early goddamn demos and recognized all the years they had thrown away, but it makes no difference. Their Evocation compilation had been released a few years before, and a 3-song demo of new material, and it was well beyond the hour to release the first, proper Evocation full-length: Tales from the Tomb.
Though it was 15 years since the band had dropped the original pair of demos in 1992, there is just not much that has changed here. It's still pure old school Swedish death from the pens of Dismember, Entombed, Grave, and Unleashed, with the thick and punishing guitar tone infused with big grooves, leaden dirt-nap melodies and the bruised, bloody throat of Thomas Josefsson, who sounds a little more caustic and snarling than a Lars-Goran Petrov. The album includes all three tracks from the 2006 demo, and a wealth more, including a rather obvious cover song. The cover and logo are excellent, which is not a surprise since the band tapped luminaries Kristian Wahlin and Dan Seagrave to create something just as memorable as many classic albums of the 90s. Whether Tales from the Tomb itself should be counted as a 'classic' of retrospective death metal is unclear. They weren't the first, but as they were formed in 1991 and already issuing good music a year after, do they really count as 'retro'? Perhaps only in the perspective of releasing actual albums so far beyond the fact.
But surely this is a damned good time if you've any love for the style at all. The swift decay of the "Eternal Lie" intro is breached by the forceful walls of melodic weaving that inaugurate "The Dead", a faster piece with a strong, haunting element to the bridge guitars and bass. "Chronic Hell" opens with an immediately catchy storm of melody at a mid pace, before the playful morbid saturation of the verse, and a similar accessibility can be found in the flesh carving "Breed", the creepy old school crushing ritual of "Blessed Upon the Altar", the dance party Entombed groove of "Phase of Fear" and the fairly catchy, uplifting melodic death metal insurgency of "From Menace to Mayhem". The band do re-create one of their early demo tracks, "Veils Were Blown", streamlining it with the remainder of the album, so you can clearly see how little they've changed outside of the production. "But Life Goes On" might seem like a redundant choice for a cover tune, since some would argue that Evocation is merely an Entombed cover band of sorts, but they handle it well and the raspier vocals seem like at least a small alteration.
It pains me to reiterate the point through so many critiques, but how you feel about Tales from the Tomb really depends on your level of hostility towards derivations on a theme. If you pine at the aural maw for further interpretations of records like Left Hand Path, Clandestine, You'll Never See... or Like an Everflowing Stream, and cannot get enough of this, then Evocation has your punch card to paradise, and are quite good songwriters themselves to boot. There are no disillusions about the intention here, this is an attempt to rekindle the morbid atmospheres once produced in the genre from that particular geographic locality, and a successful one. It may not tear one's face off as wonderfully as (ex-Centinex) Demonical's debut Servants of the Unlight from the same year, but its a great back-up and quite consistent and entertaining throughout.
When a reformed Swedish old school death metal band puts out its debut album [after a decade of hiatus], it was very natural for me to have this thick and heavy slice of Swedish offering. One look at the album artwork and it wont take much time for an old school death metal admirer to speculate the mastermind behind it. No prizes for you, if you guessed it was Dan Seagrave! It is a typical Dan Seagrave creation which is highly detailed [and highly admirable!]
The opening track 'Eternal Lie' unfolds with cavernous grunts and a bleak atmosphere in the background. The reverberating cavernous grunts leads into the next track 'the dead'[which was featured on 'Metal Crusade Vol. XIII'] The relentless drumming begins with churning guitar riffs and killer growls unleashing the band's fury, clearly declaring their intentions and making the listener to shed his inhibitions [If they had sneaked-up on listener's mind whether the band has lost its aggression on the account of band's hiatus]. 'The dead' is characterized with good tempo changes and paints a clear picture of what to expect ahead. 'Chronic Hell' is my 'pick of the bunch' from the album, the chugging guitars and tasteful drumming conflates this track into an invitation to frantic headbanging and ends with a decent solo. 'Greed' sparks off from where 'Chronic Hell' has ended. The main riff on this track is very catchy and ends with some obstreperous drumming. 'From Menace to Mayhem', 'Blessed Upon the Altar', are decent makeweights. 'Feed the Fire' brings back this album to life, an intense track with amazing solo and the fire-breathing vocalist's insistent demonic screams of 'Feed the fire.... Feed the fire' is a treat to listen. 'The Symbols of Sins' is another filler. 'Phase of Fear' is aptly titled as it has a phase which has some doomy moments and makes an interesting listen. 'Veils Were Blown' is another decent composition with a juicy solo and ends with a blood-chilling scream. 'But Life Goes On' is an Entombed track, covered with elan by Evocation. 'The More We Bleed' is the last and lengthiest track of the album, which starts off aggressively, has a lengthy instrumental passage with a doomy solo and eventually fades away into a droning noise.
Tales from the tomb surely gets my 'seal of approval' and sits pretty high on my 'list of metal albums with good re-listening value' This album might not have anything new to gasconade, but it is done tastefully. Another tributary flows into the mighty ocean of Swedish death metal...