Released: 1998, Wicked World
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
First of all, very attractive digipak I must say! So what does Earache's sub-label Wicked World have to offer here? A demo version of The Haunted's "Shattered", that's what! Great song, cool version, but what pisses me off is that there are two unreleased songs from The Haunted that should be on this compilation: "Burner" and "I'll Be Damned". These tracks didn't make the album and were NOT put on the Japanese version of their debut (I found this out the hard way…now I'm $35 poorer). Why the hell Earache didn't put these two tracks on this compilation is beyond me. Knowing them, they'll re-issue The Haunted's debut in a year with those two songs as bonus tracks, basically so everyone can go buy the album again…aaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!!!!
This compilation basically sees Earache jumping on the European melodic death/black metal bandwagon. You can expect killer album cuts from big name Swedish acts In Flames, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, and Eucharist, all four tracks of which present superb musicianship, songwriting skills, and originality. Katatonia also appear with an anguish-ridden track of cold, depressing death metal with clean vocals. Good stuff for you atmospheric doomsters! Black metallers Thy Serpent and Dimmu Borgir appear with some high quality, well-produced, keyboard-backed black metal, the former reminding me of Samael. December Wolves, another black metal band, belch forth an unmastered track or pure hate and aggression…not too original nor inspiring. Gandalf re-recorded "Carry the Torch" from their 1994 demo for this compilation, and it perhaps represents a heavier version of In Flames.
Demo tracks appear from Gardenian, The Elysian Fields, Naglfar, and The Crown. Gardenian play typical Swedish melodic death metal with a slight touch of cool female vocals. The Elysian Fields seems to be yet another run o' the mill black metal band, until the violin, clean vocals, and melodic guitars collide in the middle of the song. Great move. Naglfar play a combination of black/melodic death metal. Good stuff, but not totally amazing. The Crown blast-beat their way through an intense, yet unoriginal, song of hatred. Primordial appear with a nice darkened slab of atmospheric metal. Imagine a cross between Opeth and Anathema. Deranged offer a change in pace with their Suffocation/Cannibal Corpse style brutal death metal. Excellently played, but I've heard it all before.
This 79-minute compilation is Earache's best in a long, long time and it makes a nice companion to the "War Dance" compilation. It provides a great sampling for those unfamiliar with the bands at hand too. It has a fair amount of unreleased material, which always makes a compilation worthwhile, although they could've done better with The Haunted!