Reviewed: January 2000
Released: 1999, Shadow Play Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Ember hails from Illinois and is a totally new name to me. This MCD is an anthology of all of their recordings to date.
The first five tracks, recorded in late ’98/early ’99, make up “Concession”. The music sounds like a cross between black metal, punk, and a bit of traditional metal. The guitar work and drumming are pretty solid, and the composition is a bit interesting and a little odd. Tempos vary, and riffs are in abundance to keep things flowing nicely. And some of the riffs are damn fine! These guys sure as hell don’t follow any formulas for their songwriting. One thing I really like is the combination of two different riffs played at the same time, like early At The Gates. I only wish every band would do this! Vocalist Peter sounds pretty rancid…close to black metal, but not quite there. He sounds rather hoarse, or maybe he’s got a throat infection. He screams as if his knee cap is being pried off with a flathead screwdriver! He reminds me of both Mille Petrozza (Kreator) and Paul of Human Remains, but yet has his own identity. The music is aggressive most of the time, but can switch to being dark and evil. And they incorporate some melodic guitar parts too. The production is pretty raw, but I like it. Of course any time the drums sound natural I give two thumbs up. But I think the chaotic element of the band is strengthened by the rough production. The title track, “Concession…”, is the best track out of the five, although “The Shedding” is a close second.
The next five tracks are taken from their demo titled “The Gate”. Four of these tracks were recorded in 1997, while the other in 1998. The music is similar to “Concession”, varying from blasting speed to slow doom. Again the production is rough, but there’s nothing wrong with that! For demo material, I would expect a lot worse. Some of this material sounds similar to Swedish melodic death metal. The last three tracks on this MCD are taken from Ember’s 1995 demo entitled “Within the Realm of the Snowqueen”. Although this material is quite a bit older, the same style and sound are present. The production on this demo is even more primitive, but again, it still sounds good. The only thing lacking is a second guitarist. Overall, if the sound quality was the same on all songs, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in age between tracks. Does this mean the band has not progressed? No, it means they have had a clear musical vision and have retained their style and sound even through lineup changes.
Ember seems to have their act together as far as presentation also. Their logos are simple yet aesthetically pleasing. The artwork on both of their demos is dark and gloomy looking, which maybe doesn’t go with the music, but hey, it looks killer! The artwork for this MCD made me expect a gothic metal band. Once again, the artwork doesn’t fit the music, but it is eye-catching. This MCD is very professionally done. And the inclusion of both demos is a damn good idea. Again, I only wish other bands would do this! Artwork, lineups, and recording information for each demo are included in the booklet, which is cool. Really the only thing this booklet lacks is lyrics. But overall there is no doubt that the band has much respect for their fans.
It takes a little while for the CD to grow on you, but even so, I wouldn’t consider Ember a groundbreaking band. But what I hear is some good music from a band that has lots of potential. And I must say that there is not one band in my collection that sounds like them, so Ember presents a different style and sound to my ears. Ember’s web site is www.impaled.net/ember, however all that is accessible at this moment are the sound samples.
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