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Not just the old bands with their cult recordings get compilation releases, but also newer acts have their songs compiled into the a single CD / LP. In case of Unconsecrated it might be slightly weird, as all the band’s recordings are still available here and there, so I don’t really understand why did they decide to release “Awakening in the Cemetery Grave”, but who cares… I actually am quite happy about it, as I never had a chance to listen to Unconsecrated before, but was told several times that it is a good Spanish band and if I like Graveyard, then I also should check them out. Well, honestly I didn’t bother so much at first, but once I saw that this compilation is out – and it collects all the songs, which Unconsecrated had recorded – then I thought “why not?? Let’s give them a try” and purchased a CD. Well, I must say that I do not regret that, as the music is really cool. And also I really like the way “Awakening in the Cemetery Grave” has been released. I mean the front artwork from one of the main artists of the old school death metal of the present, Mr. Daniel Devilish, looks just stunning, it is superb vision of the dead walking around in the moonlight in hunger for fresh flesh and blood. Definitely this artwork is one of the best I have ever seen (the LP should look AMAZING!) plus I must also add that Unconsecrated logo is also one of the best I have ever seen. Already that makes me like this band hehe. But the booklet has obviously all the details for each recording, which “Awakening in the Cemetery Grave” compiles, plus the original artworks, lyrics. Yeah, Chaos Records did good job with the whole stuff and I am glad that they didn’t make it look like Entrapment’s “Irreligious Abominations” or Torture Division CDs – which have very simple and basic layout, without any extras or whatsoever. Luckily it’s not the case with “Awakening in the Cemetery Grave”.
Unconsecrated has so far released three materials: "Slave to the Grave" (EP 2010), "Dark Awakening" (Demo 2007) and "Unconsecrated Cemetery" (Demo 2006). In total there’s 73 minutes of music! Style wise it is old styled death metal and one of the songs is titled “Recremated by the Sunlight” hehe. Does that give you some clues? Yeah, the two most recent releases sound quite Swedish, but also have many old school US and British death metal influences around, what is normal I guess. Only the first demo sounds slightly different, it definitely is least exciting and sometimes even boring, if I can say so. They (the band) were more like a simple US / Dutch / UK oriented death metal in the old vein, but something doesn’t click on this demo. "Unconsecrated Cemetery" at times sounds just dull and I don’t like the drum machine from it, which gives the whole recording very homemade sound, which is not a problem, but with those guitars and drum machine it hasn’t got any energy, aggression and the feeling of actual band playing, there’s nothing organic about it. The vocals also were not the best, I must say. The demo contains eight songs recorded, so quite many and I didn’t like it so much, but generally the songwriting is not terrible. One can listen to it, but without much enthusiasm. And the Unleashed cover was done very well.
“Dark Awakening” demo is better to my taste. It has much more dirty and rawer sound, but more powerful and energetic and one, which actually is quite organic. It reminds me a good US death metal band, almost Autopsy in many ways. Also, if you hear the opening riff for “Path of the Ancient Gods” then you’ll also realize that Unconsecrated must have been really influenced by Autopsy and early Death a lot. Anyways the demo is good. It has six tracks and each is just a fundamental old styled death metal and you’ll definitely like it, if you like this sort of playing. I’m glad to say that everything what I didn’t like on "Unconsecrated Cemetery" has been improved on “Dark Awakening” and that means not just the production and the music, but also the vocals, which are harsh and good growls as I like (only they were still using the programmed drums, but they sound not so bad here!)! Sure, one may say that comparing this stuff to some of the releases from other bands it may sound slightly mediocre, but it doesn’t mean that it is weak. Definitely Unconsecrated did a good job for this demo. There are few killer riffs or fragments and as overall I liked it. But it’s not my favourite of all Unconsecrated’s outputs.
It’s the "Slave to the Grave" EP, which I like most. Unconsecrated got really great sound on it, one which is actually very Swedish and can be compared to such Swedish bands as Facebreaker, Tormented, Entrails, Paganizer, etc, but also the music, which Unconsecrated has composed for this EP is totally Swedish sounding, but that is not a problem, as they (the band) have done very good job here. I like the songwriting, each track is just killer and also the vocals are really, really good. I can definitely say that the Spanish band has been progressing a lot since the first demo and their music was constantly changing, but went in good direction, I think. It gets better and better and more lethal than before, so what else can you wish for?
At the moment I can see that Unconsecrated is on hold, which is sad news, but I hope that it won’t be for long and whatever reasons have pushed the band members to stop their activity will end and that the band will come back soon. Definitely such recordings, as those, which are on “Awakening in the Cemetery Grave” make me hungry for more and prove that it was a very good band. Come on then, cabrones, get to work!!!!!!
Releases such as Graveyard‘s The Altar of Sculpted Skulls display the spread of Swedish death metal, a style that is no longer bounded by geography or the location of a band. Chaos Records this year presents yet another Spanish band’s works, Unconsecrated, in the form of the compilation Awakening in the Cemetery Grave, which contains the discography of this Swedish death metal-influenced band so far. The themes of death, zombie and horror are clear from the album artwork as well, courtesy of Daniel Devilish, who has also handled artwork for other Swedish death metal bands such as Blood Mortized and Entrails. Unfortunately, too many bands of late are attempting the old-school Swedish death metal sound, and it would certainly take much for Unconsecrated to make themselves stand out from the rest.
The album kicks off with the cheesy Intro track containing haunting sound samples to set the atmosphere, which has been done to death by so many other bands that claim horror influences in their songwriting and creative process, but as the first riffs greet the listener on Buried in the Crypt, their Swedish musical roots become immediately clear. And these are of course that gritty rhythm guitar tone and the riffing and chugging style of guitarists Dave and Overlord, which point towards Swedish death metal legends like Entombed and Nihilist. The songwriting style though takes a more aggressive and somewhat more complex route, and it is at such moments when influence from bands like Grave and Dismember show up. The horror theme throughout the album are constantly brought up time and again, and also pretty effectively, such as the haunting leads on Slave to the Grave, easily sending chills down the listener’s back, especially since the band often includes such moment when least expected, catching the listener off-guard. There is also that usage of sound samples to reinforce that atmosphere, such as on Path of the Ancient Gods, which though cheesy, still works in the band’s favour.
Drummer Jacobo often attempts to bring in a more aggressive edge in his drumming, but there are moments when these falter slightly, resulting in a rather messy and inconsistent rhythmic pattern in the music. The leads can also be rather unstructured and messy, with guitarists Dave and Overlord seemingly focussing solely on playing fast on their solos, leaving out any sense of melody, like on Exhumating Profaned Flesh. Fortunately these moments are rather few, and the energy that is present in the band’s execution of the music makes up for such instances.
Old school Swedish death metal has been done to death (pun not intended), and Unconsecrated‘s Awakening in the Cemetery Grave unfortunately does not contain anything that is new or fresh to attract those who are already sick of the genre. However, Awakening in the Cemetery Grave is evidence of the band’s ability to play in this style, and this compilation could very well be value for money with the quantity of music that is contained on it, but there is nothing that one can find here that cannot be found on classics, making this a rather standard and straightforward Swedish death metal release.
Awakening in the Cemetery Grave is a comprehensive collection of both Unconsecrated demos that were released together in 2008 as a full-length, and the band's 2010 EP Slave to the Grave, so for many new to the Spaniards, it would prove a decisive entry into their universe of Swedish nostalgia, a completeness and convenience you've got to admire. Over 73 minutes of material, including an appropriate cover of "Dead Forever" from their undoubted influences Unleashed, and I have to say I rather like the band's simplistic undead artwork aesthetics, both on this release and the constituent demos and EPs. Classy, effective, and leaving no vagaries to the prospective audience about what this band does, and what they are getting into.
Where Unconsecrated becomes a more difficult sell is in its blatant lack of novelty, since there are scores if not hundreds of European bands plying the same late 80s/early 90s Swedish terrain with little reinvention of its intrinsic elements, the familiar crunch of the guitar tone and the moody atmosphere created through the contrast of such thick rhythm guitars, forceful but hollow gutturals and eerie lead sequences. I suppose the most direct correlation would be to Entombed, a hybrid of Left Hand Path and Clandestine in particular, with the Slave to the Grave materials like "Buried in the Crypt" sounding closest to the latter. Of course we could bring in parallels to Dismember, Grave and Unleashed, but the phrasing of the chord sequences most reminded me of the pervasive sense of evil found on aforementioned albums. The one difference might be the vocals, which have a more distinctly downcast brutality to them; and also, when we travel back a little further with the 2008 demos, they seem to have adopted a more decidedly more old school Floridian flair to the writing with more tremolo work and riff-writing akin to early Obituary, Autopsy and Death.
In other words, Awakening in the Cemetery Grave is not shy about revealing this group's points of transition where certain influences began to override others. It helps that the production here is almost unanimously clear and compact without bordering on over-polish. The earlier demo recordings have a drier tone to them, while the EP seems more slavish and saturated to the massive guitars. This band is also quite good at coordinating its intro and instrumental sequences, using a lot of choirs, symphonic touches and even beautiful and exquisite acoustic guitar passages ("Breath of Desolation"). Their instrumentation is competent all around, even if it never breaks beyond the bounds of its niche or attempts to incorporate added levels of complexity in the composition of the guitars. Granted, the riffs never quite feel essential nor as memorable as the albums that no doubt influenced Unconsecrated, but surely if you're just in the mood for more of what you are used to then it should suffice.
And that's really the point that will make or break this release in the eyes and ears of many death metal fans: can you stay up night after night experiencing the same slasher or zombie horror film plots and still enjoy them? Do you still get excited at the very notion of albums like Clandestine, Indecent & Obscene, Slowly We Rot, Where No Life Dwells, Severed Survival and Into the Grave? If the answer is yes, then it might be hard to find any substantial fault with Unconsecrated. They're fluent in the this cornerstone of the genre, they provoke the atmosphere of the past, the lyrics are decent, and the writing is varied enough that they don't continuously bleat out the same rhythms ad infinitum. I didn't personally get as much out of the songs here as I have from the classics, or even from a number of other contemporary necromancers mining the style's burial grounds, but the Spaniards aren't bad, and at least they and the label are giving you a good deal.