Released: 2007, Cyclone Empire
Before the so-called Gothenburg sound was considered overused...and in fact before it was even established...there was a period in the late 80's and early 90's when the wreckage of Carnage and Nihilist resulted in the formation of the pioneers of the Scandanavian death metal scene - Entombed, Dismember, and Unleashed. Along about that same time another similar group known as Evocation was founded in the city of Borås. They recorded two demos in 1992 - not surprisingly, the first was recorded at Sunlight Studios and produced by Tomas Skogsberg, who wrote to the major death metal labels of the time, promoting Evocation as "the best demo band he had ever recorded." Unfortunately, the demos, while receiving some interest from the labels, did not result in an album and Evocation split up in 1993, with vocalist Tomas Josefsson going on to play bass in Cemetary and then-bassist Christian Saarinen going to play keyboards in Lake Of Tears. Evocation was dead and buried, but like the subjects of any given number of death metal band songs, were due to rise from the grave. In 2001, Breath Of Night records contacted the band and acquired the rights to their two demos, releasing them together in 2004 as a full-length album titled simply EVOCATION. The release garnered plenty of interest from the metal media and inspired the band to reunite and write and record a new album in 2006, which brings us to the 2007 release of TALES FROM THE TOMB.
Now, why go through all that history lesson for a band who hadn't previously released a "real" album? It's because in staying "dead" all that time, Evocation essentially function as a time capsule - a throwback to the days of thebeginning of the "Sunlight"-sound, back when monster releases like Entombed's LEFT HAND PATH and Dismember's LIKE AN EVER-FLOWING STREAM had just been loosed on an unsuspecting public. TALES FROM THE TOMB sounds exactly like it had been recorded in that brief, glorious period before there were a million clones of At The Gates and before Entombed morphed into a death 'n' roll outfit. The album is - simply put - pure, undiluted, unapologetic, aggressively raw early Scandanavian death metal at what is damn close to its absolute best. Everything - the downtuned electrical-buzz-laden guitar distortion, the furious riff asault, the powerful drumming, the vicious deathgrowls, even the new logo and the cover art (done, naturally, by the legendary Dan Seagrave!) - makes TALES FROM THE TOMB seem less like a 2000's release and more like something that was discovered after being locked away in a hidden vault somewhere beneath the basement of Sunlight Studios for the past sixteen years. Superb tracks like "The Dead," "Chronic Hell," and "From Menace To Mayhem" serve up the brutality with more menacing hooks than you find in a butcher shop and cuts like "Breed" and album closer "The More We Bleed" hammer into your skull with unrelenting fury. A nod to the originators of the style even goes out in a dead-on cover of the Nihilist/Entombed track "But Life Goes On," sounding every bit as good as the original if not even better. No question about it, this is just plain awesome old-school Swedish death metal from beginning to end.
It's not exactly "innovative," no, though it can be argued Evocation were effectively there almost from the beginning and thus can be considered part of the founding wave of Scandanavian death. For fans of Nihilist/early Entombed, Dismember, and early Grave, this is an absolute must-have.