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Death/doom with momentum - 75%

we hope you die, July 21st, 2021

In the wrong hands this brand of overtly depressive death/doom – one where the tempo rarely rises above 100bpm – would be cause for boredom. But on their latest EP ‘Chronicles of Pestilence’, Sweden’s Evocator manage to maintain a consistent aesthetic throughout as well as holding our attention by structuring these tracks with a clear forward momentum, a handful of intriguing tangents, compelling in their musical modesty but in context working to build to clear dramatic finales. Finales which feel earned given the length of each track and the patient layering of ideas and tones that bring us to a semblance of conclusion.

At times the simple doom riffs are enhanced by screeching sirens of dissonant, tremolo picked chords that persistently rise above this most basic of foundations. This provokes comparisons to Svautidaudi if they were stripped of their cyclical industrial drum patterns. Here instead these cavernous, rising guitar leads are placed in the stripped back and sparse landscape of minimal death/doom. We call them guitar “leads”, but they are defined primarily by their textural qualities over anything melodic, operating on the most basic of ascending note patterns. But the rhythm guitars beneath pile on the reverb thick, finding themselves dragged along by their own momentum, granting longevity and depth of meaning to otherwise rudimentary chord patterns.

Drums offer an understated performance, but their contribution to achieving the overall depressive atmosphere should not go unnoticed. Chiefly because when the word depressive gets thrown around it is often too close to “boredom” in the common lexicon. Not so here. A persistent momentum and forward motion is maintained in these three lengthy tracks. This is not by virtue of any complex fills or distractingly regular tempo changes. Evocator do mix up the pacing, but this is built gradually over each piece to the point where the double bass drums and heightened intensity feels earned. Vocals follow a similar philosophy, offering a dual attack of guttural growls and high end screams. But both are able to match the heightened melodrama as each piece reaches its climax.

Each track is centred around a simple, marching doom riff that tonally has more in common with black metal. This aesthetic is enhanced as new riffs are introduced by way of commentary, layering on the minor key harmonies and using the size and inertia of the doomy guitar tone to enhance the drama of the smallest shift in pitch. And if shifts in key or rhythm are in short supply, as in the closing number ‘Boundless Miasma’, Evocator opt to simply cut the drums and distortion out completely in the form of a clean guitar interlude. The tricks are old, the textures and mood a little underdeveloped, but for music that wears its depressive creds on its sleeve it remains ahead of the curve.

Originally published at Hate Meditations