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A Stylish Hole on the Listless 90’s Metal Canvas - 92%

bayern, June 25th, 2017

The band debut produced such an impression on me some time in the mid-90’s that I instantly forgot who the hell Artillery were; it erased all traces of memory from the Artillerists’ exploits all the way to their last “inheritance”…

Kidding of course, but “Excursion Demise” remains one of the most treasured “excursions” for me around the technical thrash/death metal “theme park”, a great addition to the amazing year that 1991 was, the last bastion for the old school. Certainly, it was preposterous to expect that all these practitioners, who made that year so memorable, would carry on in the same unflinching retro metal fashion during the new decade having in mind the quickly spreading aggro/post-thrash/groovy epidemic. With very few exceptions these bands surrendered to those new sounds, most messing it up really badly.

Others begged to differ, though, and Invocator were one of those “old dogs” who used the numetal gimmicks to their advantage. Most of the metal heads I know prefer the album reviewed here to the debut; in fact, they find said debut way inferior to this tightly “woven” opus. For a while this was beating me why as I couldn’t quite see through the instilled thick groovy, heavy miasma this album was exuding in spades on the first few listens. I missed the blistering speedy “skirmishes” and the dramatic death metal-ish accumulations from the first “excursion”. And truth be told, apart from the gruff death metal vocals I couldn’t see any other similarities between the two works.

Until one night in the late-90’s, as I was wondering what to listen to, I wanted something that I didn’t know by heart, and something that still offered room for exploration beyond my prejudiced perception that it wasn’t as good as the band’s debut or another previous opus due to a radical shift in style… As I was browsing through my collection, I spotted Invocator, but then the greatness of “Excursion Demise” came forward, and I listened to the album in its entirety although I knew it so well. I was about to continue browsing, but then something compelled me to lend an ear to the album reviewed here which I was sure wasn’t going to last for more than one/two tracks at the most. Well, I ended up listening to the whole saga, and finally managed to hear what my friends were talking about all this time.

What they wanted me and other stubborn, conservative fans to do is to look beyond the modern elements and perceive what has actually occurred here. With the incessant speed and the death metal additives removed completely, or at least to a large extent, the band had the chance now to display their bigger technical proficiency, and leave room for those intricate passages to develop more fully. And this is exactly what has happened, and the opening “Through the Nether to the Sun” isn’t a bad statement at all with its modern heavy riffage, the delectable more technical licks, the omnipresent bass, and the several faster-paced escapades. The model established by this first showing is seldom broken although “Desert Sands” speeds up admirably distantly recalling the debut’s mellower moments. “Condition Critical” is a great combination of modern and classic sounds, with speed and slow riffage taking turns the eventful cannonade bringing the guys in the vicinity of the progressive metal circuit. “Breed of Sin” is a short bursting technicaller, a masterpiece of spastic amorphous thrash which is superseded by the equally as impressive steam-roller “Doomed to Be”, another seamless blend of speedy riff “salads” and more laid-back quasi-groovy rhythms, plus a brilliant galloping exit. More hard-hitting thrash with “Lost at Birth” which could have been a leftover from the debut, and more blistering stomping technicality on “Land of Misery” the band weaving intricate multifarious tapestries without a single note above the mid-pace; a feat achieved on the groovier ship-sinker “The Afterbirth” and the more melodic, more volatile closing title-track.

Yes, the guys did succeed in translating their original style to the 90’s demands. They definitely sacrificed some of their old tricks in the process, but emerged almost equally as victorious bending the groovy rules to their liking, embellishing them to a more attractive “physiognomy”, presenting them as their own even, if you like. This opus was also the beginning of the modern technical thrash movement which very soon gained inertia in the face of Aleister’s “Tribal tech”, Ktulu’s “Orden Genetico”, Donor’s “Release”, and of course Forbidden’s “Distortion”; and later reached something of a belated culmination on Sadus’ “Elements of Anger” and the Dutch Tefilla’s “Grievous Anguish”. This wave looked like a pleasant alternative to the stripped-down, simplistic sounds permeating the aether at the time, but unfortunately it lasted for a very short time as both Donor and Aleister were gone by the mid-90’s, with Ktulu and our Danish friends here embracing the modern numetal fashion much more tightly, losing their identity in the process. For Invocator this happened with “Dying to Live”, a paradoxical title on all counts having in mind the clumsy, sleepy groovisms it contained, the guys having forgotten about any more technical surprises, also removing thrash from the equation for a large portion of the time; a really sad epitaph to their “flirtation” with the metal scene…

It wasn’t over for them yet, though, as the guys came back at the dawn of the new millennium, and their fourth instalment was a passable modern thrash/death affair, not on the high level of their first two showings, but still far from a flop, and nothing like the compulsory run-on-autopilot veterans’ comeback efforts that the 00’s were offering aplenty at the time. The “Alterations from the Past” compilation released in 2014 was a great way for the guys to introduce their early delivery to the new metal fanbase, and with the nostalgy and the fond memories cleared out of the way with it, there’s no more logical next step from the band’s career than another deadly “excursion” around the “debris” of the good old thrash/death with a stylish modern twist.

Most Of The Speed Is Gone, But Still Enjoyable - 82%

grain_silo, July 2nd, 2011

“Excursion Demise” is by far the fasted album ever recorded in my opinion. So how did Invocator follow up their thrashing debut? A solid kind of thrashy album called “Weave the Apocalypse”. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy this album, but I just have one question: what the hell happened?

This album is still one of my regular listens, but compared to “Excursion Demise” it doesn’t sound like the same band. A LOT of the speed is gone, the vocals aren’t even close, and it has a much heavier, thicker production.

As far as speed goes, some of the songs still deliver. “Desert Sands”, “Doomed to Be”, “Lost at Birth”, and “Breed of Sin” are probably the fastest songs on here. Even they have their mid-paced sections in them. Another quality this album possesses is what some people might refer to now as “core” elements. These are all not bad. Although the breakdown in “Doomed to Be” could easily be karate-moshed to, it's after it’s done the thrash comes back and destroys the rest of the song in a good way.

The production is a step-up from the debut. The guitars are much heavier, the drums aren’t as thin sounding, the bass is still kind of weak, and the vocals are just….odd. In “Excursion Demise”, he went for a death metal raspy kind of voice that sounded very unique to me. In this, he’s kind of just yelling. I still enjoy it but it took me a while to embrace it. The music definitely makes up for the vocals.

I would give it a much higher rating, but there are just too many fillers. The last 3 songs are completely forgettable and contribute nothing to the album.

If you liked “Excursion Demise”, you might like this. I say that with a lot of uncertainty because it took me a while to like it. I would still recommend it.

Best tracks: “Desert Sands”, “Doomed to Be”, “Lost at Birth”, and “Through the Nether to the Sun”.

This is thrash and WWE is real - 36%

HangThePope, September 29th, 2006

I'll admit I did start drooling when I first heard samples of this because of the Exhorderish Guitar tone but having listened to it properly I realised. It's just another band who has fell into the trap of listening to Pantera and going starry eyed. A complete groove out after the Atheist tinted death thrash of "Excursion Demise" and like post Cowboys Pantera, half the time this bores you to tears, the other half makes you want to pull your hair out in irritation.

I'm actually doing an injustice to Pantera saying that because in places this gets so fucking annoying it actually makes me pine for Far Beyond Driven and The Great Southern Trendkill, It's that bad. The songwriting here is just nonexistent & most of the songs just go nowhere. They drift, they meander, they plod, they sometimes dart away but they never compel you to "bang your head against the stage like you never did before" with any decent riffs. They've kept small traces of Atheist influence in small 10 and 20 seconds patches on some of the songs with technical riff shifts and jazzy licks but there mainly just there to stop you nodding off and to try and prove they're "Technical".

The vocals are the most grating thing here tho. My god this guy annoys me so much, I can't listen to this anymore because I start plotting a horrible murder for payback. He actually sounded pretty decent on "Excursion Demise" with maniacal death vocals but here his style is so fucking monotone and braindead. He rants in a Phil Anselmo/Kyle Thomas style with no variation and I'm taking 25 points of the total score because of them.

The drumming is one of the few redeeming factors here as the guy basically does the best job he can, considering he's on a groove album, and it's well produced. He only ever catches fire and plays fast for about 2 to 3 minutes of the whole album. The guitar tone does impress as well, slightly with it's exhorder bulk to it but the distortion is watered down to groove monkey status.

Apart from the fact every track sounds pretty much the same I'd say the least worst and remotely interesting are "Desert Sands", "From My Skull It Rains" & "Breed of Sin". The fact the themes and overall mix is so weird and unknown, in a similar way to Demilich's "Nespithe" might intrigue some of you, but for me it's just another thing nipping away at my skin.

This band never had much ideas up their sleeve. More evidence is the way they completely ripped off Agent Steel's "It's Not What You Think" on the title track to their last album "Through The Flesh To The Soul". Your research of this band should begin and end with "Excursion Demise".

Masterpiece of heavy riffing - 98%

natrix, April 18th, 2004

Invocator creates a thrash masterpiece with the album, but beware, this is a different form of thrash than you're used to, and may be too "groovey" for some. Having said that, if you like Exhorder, Pantera, or Metallica, you'll probably find this album to be great. Indeed, it blows the shit out of anything that Pantera has ever done.
So what do we get? What makes this album such a great thing? Answer: nearly everything. When I say that, keep in mind that the vocals are pretty strange and take some getting used to (hence, I had to suptract a point). Other than that, I can't find a single weak moment on this album (except parts of "Condition Critical" which apart from having a good riff in the beginning, goes onto kind of a political/hardcore-ish thing, especially the chorus--another point lost).
Guitars are similar to the Metallica tone, but much more varied. I can't really describe what's going on here, because Invocator uses a varitety of shifting, semi-groovy riffs, but at times you'll also hear some Morbid Angel and Suffocation influences a few times. Also, in "Desert Sands," there's a weird little tremolo solo that reminds me of Pestilence. There's a lot of twisted riffing going on as well, with serpentine tones and a few squeals.
The drumming on here is really good, coming from Per M. Jensen (yeah, he's played with the Haunted and Nightrage). This man clearly knows how to use fills and the occasional strange beat very effectively. His playing is incredibly tight and powerful, which brings to mind Gar Samuelson (on Peace Sells...)and Dave Lombardo.
If you like Exhorder's Slaughter In The Vatican, but can deal with a more streamlined and less-rude version, this will be up your alley. It's a total about face from their first album, but Weave the Apocalypse is something that is totally different and a true testament to Invocator's mastery of heavy riffing.

Slower, but still great. - 85%

ABHORRED, December 24th, 2003

Well, this album may not be as "unrelenting" as it's predecessor, but it's certainly packed with enough diverse riffs to keep even the most casual fan of this genre interested. Full on Tech-Thrash ala Coroner is hard to come by on "Weave The Apocalypse", The songs are more akin to the likes of a more "groove" oriented Atheist. Conventional Thrash is evenly dispersed throughout 30 second to 1 minute intervals, with the occasional breakdown.

Invocator's mission here was not to astound the listener with blazing speed, but to make them really LISTEN. There's so much on this record to be taken in, I found it hard to do after only a few spins. Certain songs did stick out initially as favorites, though. Two of them being "Doomed To Be" and "Land Of Misery"

The clear and stout production really helps out the cause of this album tremendously, as every note by every instrument can be heard perfectly without any sort of interference from others. However, if I had to say one instrument was dominant in the mix, it would be the drums. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because the drums are beaten with masterful precision by.... Well, if I could find their names anywhere in the CD insert, I'd tell you. Whoever he is, he's very good. If you really care that much, look on the biography page.

Bottom line: Great album, just a bit long at over 50 minutes.