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Evoke / Mordbrand - 70%

Phuling, November 21st, 2010

I have to be perfectly honest and say I can’t recall myself to ever have heard Evoke before, but if I’m to believe the label behind this release it’s a classic act. This split contains their I am… my own god demo from 1994 for the first time on vinyl. The original release apparently sold a thousand copies, so I guess I really have missed out on something others already know of. I do however find it a little strange that it’s re-released as a split instead of an EP on its own, but oh well…

Their side of the vinyl starts off quite clearly old school death metal right from the get go. The riffing bears the mark of heavily doom inspired death metal at times, which also results in a doomy atmosphere. But occasionally they whip out a thrash riff, some semi-gory death, old Morbid Angel oozing song structures and whatnot. So it’s safe to say there’s a whole lot going on here. And what also strikes me are the obscure and melodic guitar leads moving the tunes forward, which in its heavy variant reminds me a whole lot of what Dead Congregation are up to nowadays. Just listen to Fade from reality and you’ll know what I mean. Vocally it also relies more to the doom side of growling, feeling somewhat similar (albeit a little more high pitch) to that of Mad Max in the early Worship recordings. But just as the doomy atmosphere is about to completely overshadow the death side of their music, Obscure thoughts starts off with blunting brutality, instantly drawing the North American scene to mind. Evoke manage to bring all these variants and influences together in a pretty nifty package, which of course is a little on the crude side when it comes to the production, but I suppose that’s only to be expected since it’s an old demo recording. But oh well… still some good shit.

On to the Mordbrand side, which is yet another band I was previously unaware of. This is however a new constellation, but with an old-timer behind the mic. The vocals are handled by Per Boder, the vocalist from the obscure, but legendary, old Swedish act Macabre End/God Macabre. But just as quickly I realized he must’ve joined the band after this recording, since he’s not credited for it, so I suppose the other two lads are more interesting, both of which are also to be found in the crossover/crust/grind act Karensdag and a thrash band called The Law (although they’re most definitely unknown to me, I have a hard time digesting thrash).

One of the first things that strike me is the hilarious track title Big trouble in little Chinese graveyard, and then I realize the track list is all messed up. There’s one track list on the back of the album cover, which is wrong, and there’s another track list on the sleeve, which is also wrong. Stuff like that just bugs me, although I suppose it has no real meaning to the review. But anyway, first up is the previously mentioned song; Big trouble in little Chinese graveyard. My initial thoughts go toward Autopsy and other such Nort American acts, like for instance Impetigo on occasions. It’s a dirty, raw and sloppy kind of death metal, where gore and horror is key. The very same approach (the dirty and raw one) feels evident in every aspect of their side of this green vinyl (which means I got one of the limited copies as a promo). The production is quite crude, and early on I felt myself kind of bugged by the treble, in particular since the cymbals are a bit too screechy and scrambling. But all’s fair, it levels out eventually and leaves us with a murky sound, fitting the overall atmosphere. There’s nothing wrong with the instrumental handling; they do their slow to mid paced death very well, but there aren’t any real shining moments when it comes to riffing. Nothing really hits me, and sticks with me, once the vinyl stops spinning. I think some of it’s due to the actual production being just a wee bit too crude, not giving the riffs an actual opportunity to stand out. Vocally it’s gory, and yet equally as raw as everything else, fitting perfectly in with the early gory glory death their tunes resemble. It’s nothing standout-ish, but it’s most certainly not bad either. I’m just not really feeling it…

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