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Good, but similar to many other bands... - 68%

robotiq, October 17th, 2020

The "Denial" EP is the only thing Crematory ever released officially (i.e., on a label). It is a solid little death metal record from the golden age of the genre. The musicianship has improved since their demos. At this point, the band were good enough to play the music they had probably always wanted to play; American style death metal with a slight Swedish tint. There are similarities with bands like Monstrosity, Malevolent Creation and Rottrevore (who were all in their prime at around this time). This EP sees Crematory join Seance as a Swedish death metal band bucking the local trends. "Denial" is nothing like as good as Seance's debut album from the period (the magnificent "Fornever Laid to Rest"), but is still worth investigating.

The problem with "Denial" is that it is Crematory. This band had already established a reputation for playing monstrously heavy death metal that sounded like it came from another world. Their two preceding demos ("The Exordium" and "Wrath from the Unknown") were astounding. "Denial" cannot compete with them. Crematory had become tighter, faster and more technical since “Wrath from the Unknown”, but they had also lost the soul of their sound in the process. This EP has none of the spookiness and ambience of those two demos. “Denial” is a prime example of a band getting worse because they were getting better, an inherent problem with death metal as a whole.

That said, this record isn’t stale and lifeless. Crematory are still pretty good. The main problem is the production which sounds light and fizzy. The drums, bass and guitar all lack the density of the demos. Neither can it compete with the sound of records like Monstrosity's "Imperial Doom". Crematory are caught between two worlds, lacking the magic of their old material and lacking the fuller sound of the American bands. Of the four songs here, the re-recordings of the two older songs suffer most. This version of "Chunks of Flesh" is weak compared to the version on "The Exordium". The hypnotic opening riff from the demo version has been tightened up here but it lacks any real weight and momentum. The same could be said about "Unconsecrated Ground", which cannot compete with the version on "Wrath from the Unknown". The two new songs are faster and fit better with this new Crematory sound ("Into Celephais" especially), but neither of them are classics.

Objectively, "Denial" is a decent slab of death metal that falls into the 'good but not great' category. The reason this is disappointing is because Crematory had already released 'great' death metal by this point. I cannot recommend this EP to anyone who isn't already familiar with those demos. Instead of listening to this, head straight for the "The Exordium" and then for "Wrath from the Unknown". Both are among the best and heaviest death metal around. For those interested in the American school of death metal of this period, "Imperial Doom" and "Fornever Laid to Rest" are considerably better than this. Once you've checked all these out, give "Denial" a spin.