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I don't think there were that many new bands and albums, which came out in new millennium of 2000's that made such a big impact on the death metal scene as Repugnant's "Epitome of Darkness" did. Sincerely I think this band and album, together with Daniel Ekeroth's "Swedish death metal" book is responsible for influencing a bunch of youngsters to play this obscure style with passion and style, which haven't been seen since the early 90's! Repugnant and "Epitome of Darkness" probably also directed them to take the image of cult horror movie freaks, with all the empty tombs, zombies and stench of cadaver around it, by writing some cool, horror lyrics and using an adequate front covers (best are hand painted, not a photoshop shit and which include as many corpses and graveyard crosses as possible, as well as some guts and other disgusts). And let's not forget about dressing up in the old school death metal way, possibly with some corpse paint. Arghh, but I'm not going to complain on that - Repugnant did show how a real death metal should sound and look like and if it provoked many youngsters to form their own zombie crews, then why not? I think this band did something not many wanted to do at the time and this is why I praise them! And I they have some followers, then personally I can only be happy about it, as I love such style.
And "Epitome of Darkness"... Well, I absolutely loved "Hecatomb" EP, which to this day belongs to my favourite death metal releases of all time. But I've waited for a full length impatiently also, hoping to get smashed with a bigger dose of morbid death metal. The album has been recorded already back in 2002 and I have no idea why, but it took them four or five year to release it! What a blasphemy - which pisses me off even more because at the time of the actual release of the album Repugnant has already split up! Anyway, I managed to get the vinyl copy as soon as it was released, wonderfully released with two fuckin' huge posters and great layout!
Music wise this is old school and traditional to the bone death metal with a slight thrashing influence of the 80's / early 90's. If you exhume old albums such as "Seven Churches", "Hell Awaits", "Left Hand Path" (as well as Nihillist demos!), "The Awakening", "Endless Pain", "Horrified", "Scream Bloody Gore" or "Severed Survival" and mix them up, then you may get a picture of how does these morbid tunes sound like. I'm telling you, it's amazing. Already the 100% analogue production brings the chills, it's so raw, energetic, warm, but at times it's noisy and slightly chaotic, but it's not the usual death metal sound, especially if you listen to the guitar leads, as some of them almost sounds like they have been taken from the 70's rock albums (sound wise). And if you add some punk primitiveness to it, then you won't be mistaken, really! Here's one thought though - I actually like "Hecatomb" production more, I find it as more aggressive and vicious.
The songs that complete "Epitome of Darkness" will catch your attention straight away! If not due to great riffs or the whole morbid and obscure feeling, then maybe due to some fine, catchy choruses when - I bet - you'll scream from your lungs all those lyrics like "Nosferatu, inside of you", "voices of the dead, chanting inside your head" or "eating from the coffin, eating from the grave" or whichever else, as basically each song has some old school hooks! They're going to catch your attention and stay in your head, possessing your mind until you get mad and start to dismember some corpses. I love the riffs and some songs are true fuckin masterpieces, in my opinion. "Hungry Are the Damned", "Premature Burial", "Voices of the Dead", "From Beyond the Grave" or "Eating From a Coffin" are possibly the best tracks on the album – notice though that I actually listed half of the whole tracklist, but that doesn't mean the other half is much worse, no! There's also such slab as Morbid cover ("Another Vision") and "Spawn of Pure Malevolence" from the first demo... Probably "Mutilated Remains" is the least interesting song on the album, but that's maybe because I like the version of it from "Draped in Cerecloth" demo more.
To resume then – here’s an album, which has great obscure, evil and dark feeling which is infectious. At some parts it's mercilessly fast and relentless, and sometimes it's slower, more mid paced, even with some melodic guitar leads... Those guys did compose some blasting songs and the vocals of Mary Goore are perfect, on the edge of black metal screams almost, but fitting the dirty style of Repugant just perfectly. I love it. I just have no idea why didn’t it get the proper recognition straight away on the day of its release and why did Repugnant have to split up? It’s just fuckin’ shame they didn’t go with the blast and didn’t do something more with it. The only positive aspect of it is that I can listen to the vinyl at any time… and if you didn’t get it at the time of its release, then you may easily buy the repress on the picture LP, although it hasn’t got the posters. Anyway, these zombies are fuckin’ cool.
Standout tracks: "Hungry Are the Damned", "Premature Burial", "Voices of the Dead", "From Beyond the Grave" or "Eating From a Coffin"
Bands mining the raw, old school death metal vein are hardly short in supply these days, so you're going to have to play pretty fucking hard to make a wave. Repugnant do exactly that, and are one of, if not the finest bands paying homage to the older bands. Whereas your average old school Swedish death metal worship band will go straight for the Entombed, Dismember or Unleashed school, Repugnant blow the dust off Morbid, Merciless and Nihilist (even covering the obscure "Another Vision" from Morbid).
Epitome of Darkness is a collection of gnarly, savage, thrashing death metal, with distinct horror themes and an ever so slight tongue in the cheek. The production is suitably raw, with a hard edged guitar tone sounding as though it were secreting from age-old speakers, encrusted with a thick layer of dust, stale booze and cigarettes. The bass is right up in the mix, going hand in hand with the guitar tone for a crushing wall of sound, which coupled with an organic-sounding drum kit results in near apocalyptic levels of mayhem. The vocals are between the thrash and death styles, with a lot more in common with the late 80's style than the "cookie monster" growls that would later hit the scene.
The album kicks off in great style with "Hungary are the Damned" a doom-style intro leads into an explosion of madness, continually pummeling you and we have the ridiculously brilliant "Nosferatu, inside of you" line. The lead tone throughout this album is godly, with an otherworldly 70's vibe to it, reminding me of B-Horror and Sci-Fi films at times. "Premature Burial" is another ass-kicker, in the middle a bass line leads into a head-thumping riff and singer Mary Goore utilizes a vocal effect similar to what Morbid Angel used in "Where the Slime Live". The album is stacked the brim with violent odes to horror and death, but the absolute standout has to be "Eating From a Coffin" with a chorus you can't help bellow along to, this track seeps stomach-busting riffs and skin scathing leads all over the place; awesome.
If I'm being honest, I think this is one of the finest death metal albums to come out in the last ten years. Repugnant sneer and cackle behind a giant, defiant middle finger waved in the face of mainstream music and modern production. Excellent homage to the greats who defined a genre, however Epitome of Darkness doesn't end at merely homage. Get this now.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
Welcome to a putrefacted world of mutilated beings and endless cemeteries, morbid ones. Are you morbid? I sure hope so, otherwise you're in for an experience which will rape your mind into oblivion, as this great work of putrid death engulf your very being and turn you into one of us, the damned!
As the innards of your skull attempt to comprehend just what it is that you're being assaulted with as you spin this record, a sudden urge will appear... The mind turn blank, the arms lift slowly into the air, and then... A headbanging session ensues, with screams, growls and shrieks from beyond the grave, horns thrown in the air, air guitar playing, pounding rhythms on your thighs, or whatever is close to you which is suitable for poundage. You're now one of the damned, lusting for gore and fresh meat to appease your morbid hunger!
Anyway, this is actually a hard rocking record of death metal, while continuing the morbid necrotic legacy laid down by the forefathers of extreme metal in the 80's, it doesn't go much beyond the metal-territory of 1989 and forward, perhaps only in some lesser details of composition and production. This is essentially an elaboration of death metal as it did sound in Sweden in the times as Nihilist just started out, when Morbid, Merciless and Treblinka reigned in the early demo-sphere, before the era of Sunlight and chugging crust-oriented riffs.
In performance, it's somewhat thrashing with a swing-attitude at times, heavy audible bass lines and a little-bit-faster than mid-paced drumming, only to in the next moment jump into a pounding frenzy of riffing and blasting rhythms that are relentless in nature with a purpose of just being violent and evil - and, of course, keeping your head banging until your neck snap. There are also many thrilling guitar solos spaced out throughout the album, blistering fast and full of morbid emotion. Every musician on this record, confident in their craft, are giving us a stellar performance, tight without feeling confined, relaxed without being sloppy, confident in essence. But there's one thing which make it excel beyond what is actually performed, and that is the production job, courtesy of infamous Tore Stjerna (aka. Necromorbus). While you still can distinguish the elements of the record one from another, the mix is done so that it all comes together as a perfect unit... This is perhaps the greatest mix he has ever done, maybe because it was recorded in another studio than his own and engineered by another man, bit still. I digress.
In the end, all I can tell you is that this slab of metal is the perfected state of death metal as it was in conception, attitudes taken mainly from the Swedish scene, but also from the classic American (Possessed, early Death and Autopsy), and if you're a fan of old school death metal, this is a record which you will spin more than occasionally. You can't really say there's any high lights on the record, they all grew to perfected fruition in time, but tracks which most likely will come to your attention the first time around are "Draped in Cerecloth" as well as the cover "Another Vision", a track which was supposedly written by the new guitarist of Morbid, Zoran, in '88, and only ever performed live.
To bring things to an end, Repugnant are now dead and defunct, but the vision is still very much alive with plenty new bands growing in the wake of this macabre beast, the spawns of pure malevolence are festering in rotten slime down in the underground, in a world of twisted metal maniacs and morbid freaks alike, and you never know when another superlative monster like this will resurface again, but I'm sure they will, and conquer our souls once more. But until then... Keep the ill-green light glowing inside your rotten corpses, and while you pray at the altars of madness, pray for a fast coming of the re-releases of the old limited material of Repugnant as well as the new LP-version of this record from Soulseller records! This is not but an epitome of darkness, but also one of death metal, a morbid vision continued... now raped in sepulchral rot.
Now this is classic Swedeath at its finest, no doubt about it. My love for the classic Swedish scene is unending, however I never thought I'd see anything released that could pull me away from Like an Everflowing Stream or Where no Life Dwells, but I'm glad to say I was wrong. Towering over recent death metal releases as Deathevokation's The Chalice of Ages and Dead Congregation's Graves of the Archangels, Epitome of Darkness is easily the most crushing death metal release of the decade. Even the former's namesake has a hard time keeping up with the unadulterated speed and brutality displayed by Repugnant.
This Swedish quartet has brought together members of death metal masters General Surgery, Insision, and the almighty Dismember themselves. Repugnant has managed to craft one of the single best blends of classic Swedeath and a modern tinge. The production is perfect, even the bass is audible. Johan and Tobias share the axe duties, creating some scorching riffs and perfectly performed solos, all while Tobias belches out some of the most perfect death metal vocals I've heard in some time. The lyrics are pure gore in poetic form, nothing to focus on, but damn do they fit the music. The rhythm section is perfect, nothing overly technical but brutal as hell.
As for the songs themselves, everything is worth a listen. Over the first eight songs, you are bombarded by riffs from every direction with absolutely no reprieve. Premature Burial, Draped in Cerecloth, and Sacred Blasphemy are all killer tracks, and the best of the bunch. However the ninth and penultimate track is where things really get kicking. Another vision is an obscure Morbid cover from 1988, which never appeared on any release - and that's a damn shame. The tracks open with some haunting guitar work, and then fifty seconds in - your neck snaps. A blistering riff follows the song most of the way through, topped by Tobias' verbal spew. As usual, the lead work is perfect. Someone seriously needs to go dig LG out from the rubble that is the last few Entombed albums and get him to release this song. As you have come to expect, by this point the neck track, Mutilated Remains, is just icing on the cake. Another speed freak of a song, it will most certainly put the nail in your coffin - if you have lasted this long, that is.
Epitome of Darkness is without a doubt one of my favorite death metal releases ever. I couldn't ask for anymore from a death metal album, as close to perfect as it gets. Now someone come help me scoop up the remains of my neck.
I just received this album from Soulseller Records the other day, and I didn’t know very many people at all who had heard it but everyone who had heard seemed to say great things, and I offer nothing different. This death metal album is like nothing you’ve heard, which was pretty incredible. There are lots of similarities to Possessed and Celtic Frost riffs, and the expected Swedish death sound without sounding like a blatant rip-off, but without sounding like any new band. The guitars don’t rely on the low end, but are extremely heavy and swampy. And the guitar leads are all eerie contributions that get underneath your skin when you hear them.
The drums are pounding and intense, and they provide a lot. The bass sound is lethal and ugly, and these qualities from the guitar, bass, and drums together make this album gritty, ugly, primitive, barbaric, and perfect. But the icing on the cake is Mary Goore’s vocal attack. It’s not a typical death metal approach, and there is something unnatural about it, you feel like you’re listening to screams of the undead. The songwriting is a great formula that flows consistently throughout the album but never comes close to boring you. Every song has a catchy chorus and deadly riffs that make it memorable. This album will captivate you, inspire you, and show you the real potential that death metal has to be great.
It seems like a small miracle that we can finally hold this precious jewel in our grimy hands after being forced to wait well over 3 years for it. This is the rare sort of CD that can instantly renew one's excitement and interest in a genre where unoriginality, commercialism, plagiarism and outright boredom seem to be the specialties of most bands.
For those that aren't familiar with Repugnant, they were pure death metal--dark, aggressive and mercilessly heavy. You can even label them "old school" if you need to but it's not really necessary. They somehow managed to combine the best elements of three eras of Sweden's underground history (late '80s, early '90s and late '90s) on this album without even sounding blatantly Swedish, which is perhaps the mark of true brilliance. This makes the contributions of most death metal bands seem laughable (most of which are).
Instead of recording at one of the well-known, over-utilized Swedish studios, they chose the obscure Acetone Studios in Stockholm and the result is just about perfect, being extremely raw and heavy, just the way it is supposed to be. Four newer songs are included on this CD (including an obscure Morbid cover dug up from who knows where) as well as six older ones that appeared on previous releases. I would've preferred to see 'Gates of Hell' from the 2nd demo appear here instead of 'From Beyond the Grave', but that's just me.
Most people who have followed Repugnant's brief career will know that the band split up a couple of years ago. In some ways, it's a shame that this release is destined to be overlooked by many, even by those who claim to worship real death metal. However, instead of facing the possibility of future stagnation (or all-out failure) that most bands do, they called it a day and left us with this absolute masterpiece.
There will be nothing better released this year. The only future release I can see possibly topping this is the eternally-delayed Sadistic Intent album. Until that one arrives, 'Epitome of Darkness' is it.