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I could say a lot of great things about The Ending Quest and all the demo recordings if I were to do a review solely on the material, but there's a lot in this collection I can't overlook that I'm sure a lot of other people will. The Ending Quest was one of my favorite death metal albums for the longest time, their demos from before that album were excellent as well, but the Promo 95 and live recordings turned out to be pretty forgettable.
My first recommendation to anyone about this release: track down the Necroharmonic release Darkness of the Dead. Dan Swanö's remastering sounds okay at first, until listening back to any earlier mastering. It's basically just a boost in the low and high frequencies, which weren't really necessary. He seemed to accentuate everything like high end hissing that didn't need to be in it, and.. I kid you not... go to 2:02 of the “Exhume to Consume” live Carcass cover... you can hear a Microsoft Windows noise. He also cut short the first second of the drums in “My Ending Quest,” which just confused the hell out of me when I first heard it.
The demo tracks honestly sounded a thousand times better on the Darkness of the Dead release, and at certain points you can hear the extremely bad limiting that makes you wonder if he even listened back to anything before sending it to be pressed. Halfway though the demo recording of "The Memorial" the volume just shoots down for a few seconds inexplicably, which didn't seem to be a problem on any other release. I was constantly noticing "changes" in the album as I had my first listen though, and I don't think any of them were intentional changes so much as ignored mistakes.
What I was originally most excited to listen to before I got this album was the Promo 95 tracks, since only “Profound Harmony” had appeared on Darkness of the Dead. Before this release, I had been searching everywhere I could to try and find this demo tape or even a download of it somewhere with absolutely no luck whatsoever. Honestly, “Profound Harmony” is the best track from the demo. The other two tracks were sort of a disappointment and made me feel like I had seriously wasted my time searching for these songs all those years. The live tracks are basically just blasted out room mic live recordings, cool to have as a completist, but not something you'll go back regularly to listen to.
After being extremely excited to see a complete collection of all things Gorement, this was a giant disappointment. While Necroharmonic did an amazing job providing a collection of rare tracks, Century Media couldn't even come close. The tracks that are left out of the Necroharmonic release aren't much of a loss at all, and overall made me shelve Within The Shadows of Darkness relatively quickly. If you're new to Gorement, the changes might not seem as terrible, and if you're looking to hear every single thing they've done, you may want to check it out. But if you're getting this expecting anything improved from previous releases, you're going to be disappointed. Also, Dan Swanö really needs to listen to shit before he sends it off to be pressed.
Finally, finally, fuckin finally! How long could I wait for Gorement vinyl to come out? Shit, it seemed like eternity. At first I was thrilled that Necroharmonic released the compilation titled “Darkness of the Dead” on CD back in 2004, which quickly became my “must have” purchase, especially as the first press of “The Ending Quest” goes for hilarious money and the demos and EP are also very hard (and expensive) to get. This compilation obviously had a lot of sense and I did enjoy it a lot. But ever since Necroharmonic announced they will do a vinyl version (and before that it was Blood Harvest, who also wanted to do that!) I was crossing the fingers, waiting for it patently. The time has passed and nothing was happening, no vinyl anywhere… And suddenly I was attacked by the info that Century Media is doing another compilation, this one titled “Within the Shadow of Darkness – The Complete Recordings”. Hmm, at first I didn’t really know what to think about it. You know, how many times and in how many different versions can you release the same songs? But then it turned out that the LP of Necroharmonic was cancelled and Century Media will release all those old recordings on vinyl, but under different title and with new layout, doing also the CD version at the same time. OK, now it makes sense I guess, although I was kinda sceptical about the whole idea at first. Not for long!!! Once I got the LP of “Within the Shadow of Darkness – The Complete Recordings” in my hands I smiled and screamed, happy not just to have those Gorement recordings on LP, but also seeing how great job was done for this compilation. Necroharmonic did everything right and did good job for the “Darkness of the Dead” CD, but Century Media did something even better, something very unique and now I dare to say that this LP belongs to favourite vinyls in my collection!!!!! Ha, even The Crypt Productions will have difficulties beating it, even if I really love their works also.
So, what makes “Within the Shadow of Darkness – The Complete Recordings” so special? Obviously it’s the music in the first place, but not only that. The whole packaging of this vinyl is just fuckin impressive! I really love the new front artwork – it looks superb! There’s a poster of it also, so you can see every damn detail of this front cover and man, it does look killer. At least once I’m happy that they didn’t use the original cover from “The Ending Quest” in the front. But “Within the Shadow of Darkness – The Complete Recordings” is not just a massive 100 minute long Swedish death metal experience, but it is also a deep investigation of Gorement history. The booklet for the LP (and I guess the CD also) contains very informative and lengthy liner notes from Patrik Fernlund about each of the recordings, which are on this compilation. You’ll get to know everything! Obviously they all are coming with the original artworks, demo booklets, old band photos, recording details, lyrics… And then there’s damn long and interesting interview done by Nicolas Constantini, the guy, who did killer book titled “Encyclopedia of Svensk DödsMetall” (RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!). They talk about everything what deals with the past of Gorement. And this is exactly the reason, why I love such compilations and why they, if done right, make so much sense. It is a great tribute to the classic death metal band and the whole movement. Just like when I was masturbating (no, not really hehe!) when I was listening to compilations LPs from the likes of Nirvana 2002, God Macabre, Uncanny, Furbowl, Abhorrence, Pandemonium, Centinex, etc now I also do so with “Within the Shadow of Darkness – The Complete Recordings”. In many ways this Gorement compilation do not lacks anything. It is perfect in every detail. Especially as also musically it gathers all of the band’s recordings: “Human Relic” demo 1991, “Obsequies…” demo 1991, “Into Shadows” EP 1992, “The Ending Quest” LP 1993, “Promo 1995” (very rare to find)... Plus the CD version has a bootleg live recording from 1991. The LP hasn’t got them, but luckily they’ve added the double CD (!!!!!!!!) to the LP version, so you can also listen to the whole stuff on the compact disc. Ha, would you believe that?
Few words about the music? Let’s go…
When I listen to “The Ending Quest” I am just thrilled by this album. I mean I love Swedish death metal ever since around 1991-92, when I got to know Dismember and Entombed first and this feeling is still there and “The Ending Quest” is just a classic example of this kind of playing. What’s more I dare to say it belongs to the top five of my all time favourite Swedish death metal albums, along with “The Nocturnal Silence”, “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”, “The Winterlong”, “Left Hand Path” and “Dark Recollections”. Everything about this album is just superb and I love every bit of it, starting with the killer production – what I find as funny is that the band members say that they were not happy with it and that the producer was an asshole, etc… Ha, I know that the musicians may think differently than fans, but I love the sound of “The Ending Quest” and it is just classic Sweden, even if the whole album was recorded in Germany! But it sounds just like Cemetary, Epitaph and all other such amazing Swedish bands from this time and of course there is also a very strong influence of the early Paradise Lost – undeniably Gorement liked their doomy tempos and melodies and did something similar in their music. And this music is just classic, very melodic, very passionate and emotional, but also very aggressive… There are some of the best Swedish melodies I ever heard and some of the most thrilling songs. Even such piece as “Silent Hymn (For the Dead)” sounds absolutely stunning. Originally they wanted to add some female vocals to it, but the producer didn’t agree and said differently... Ha, I like this song the way it is. The album collects some early Gorement songs – from demos and EP – plus has few newer ones, so it is like a good collection of all that Gorement had best to offer at that time. Well, when reading the liner notes there were some very interesting things about the whole composing and recording process of “The Ending Quest”, so give it a read and listen to such killer songs as “Into Shadows”, “Sea of Silence”, “The Memorial” and “My Ending Quest”.
Then there are all those cult demo releases: “Human Relic” from 1991 (which originally had the same artwork as Morbid Angel on “Blessed Are the Sick” (hehe) and “Obsequies” from the same year… The first demo is obviously good, but the vocals on it are just hilarious. The story says that the band was so unhappy with the performance of their then vocalist, Mikael Bergström, that they had to put some effects on his recorded vocals, so they would sound any decently. And yeah, you can definitely hear that, as the growls sounds like someone played the LP on the slower RPM. Nowadays it obviously has its charm and the effect is not as terrible as you would think, but I guess the band must have been really unhappy with it, when they’ve recorded the debut demo. And this is why they quickly fired Mikael Bergström and soon hired Jimmy Karlsson to do the second demo, “Obsequies”, just six months later. Again it was a very good demo, but for me the best of Gorement was yet to come; the 7”EP “Into Shadows” is just superb and definitely it belongs to my favourite 7”EP singles of all time. The band already had their sound developed into more atmospheric and sometimes almost doomy, with more those Paradise Lost influences, which I mentioned and on this EP they basically have the sound already similar to the one from “The Ending Quest” LP.
Finally the LP has the mysterious “Promo 1995”, which was done right before Gorement changed the name for Pipers Dawn and started to play some gothic / doomy stuff. Well, you can hear the problems with identity and uncertainty for what direction they should go next as each of the three promo songs sounds differently. One sounds like Cathedral and Convulse on their second album, another one is just a plain rip off of Paradise Lost’s “Icon” and “Draconian Times” and one more song is more like the older Gorement stuff. There’s a lot of confusion really here, but the whole material wouldn’t be that bad, if it wasn’t for the vocals, which sounds quite weak. Jimmy tried some cleaner sounding vocals, more like something similar to Nick Holmes and especially Johan Liiva, but he rather failed in my opinion. So, Gorement ceased to exist after this recording for the same reasons for which so many other bands from that time have split up – change of the musical direction, getting bored with death metal and disappointment with how everything went with their debut LP. Oh, what a pity, but from the other hand I wouldn’t want Gorement to suck the dicks like Wombbath for instance did with their second album “Lavatory”.
Uh, it’s time to finish this review. And let me just say that releasing such compilations as this one has so much sense nowadays. I mean obviously there’s a lot of interest in the old death metal scene, but even without that it should have been done, to memorize and pay tribute to the great scene and great bands. Gorement definitely deserved that and this compilation LP is just a must to have in collection, LP version especially, as it just looks (and sounds) superb. Century Media did it in the only reasonable way, with so much info and story in the booklet that it is also a lot of reading, not just listening. I love it.