Century Media Records
June 26th, 2012
Release length: 57:15
If you’re a fan of Evocation, then chances are you already have this recording in its initial form. If not, now is your chance to own it. However, the good majority of this compilation comes down to whether you prefer the raw, original material, or if you enjoy a remastered, modern quality based off the master tapes. Only The Ancient Gate and Promo 1992 have been updated, and honestly it’s done quite well. Much of the noise has been reduced, though it’s clear they still are coming from an analog source. The drums sound as pristine as ever, the vocals are sharp and crisp, and the guitars sound a little more on the clear side, but not much of the bite has been taken from them, or the rather dominant bass guitar. The creepy atmospheres are still largely dominant through both recordings, and the groove found in some of the riffs still has the same hard hitting impact.
The Ancient Gate does end up sounding quite different, losing some of the eeriness that the initial recording had, but overall still sounds great and comes off like a modern underground offering. “A Wind Has Risen” is still a strong atmospheric introduction of wind blowing, and the bass introduction of “Desolated Spirits” shines through a lot better than before. There’s no denying the click of the bass kick really stands out and asserts a little more intimidation into the mix now, especially in that song, but “Through the Darkened Peril” and “The Ancient Gate” are infectious offerings any Swedish Death Metal fan is going to love. The Promo 1992 tracks don’t fare too well, especially in the drums thanks largely to the lighter audio quality and the cymbals pulled to the forefront with a hazey sound against the assertive and loud click in the kicks. The bass guitar really stands out in volume, and feeds into the lighter tone during some of the technical sections, which ends up hurting things a little more, especially when the material becomes chaotic like on “On a Journey to Heaven.” Thankfully not all songs are as hectic as that, and others like “Where the Headstones Shine” and “Spiritual Affinity” are still fantastic headbang worthy cult classics with restrained but rich groove-filled Death Metal, though the additional keyboards on the first of the two towards the end are definitely way too loud.
While the demo’s have been remastered, it’s obvious the rehearsal recordings have not. Track ten and on start the previously unreleased material here, made up by rehearsal recordings that are clearly just a cassette recording device capturing the band pacticing some of the tracks that show up in their demo material. These raw offerings carry a bit of a muffled tone to them, but overall still end up surprisingly clear. These also feature some talking at the end of a song here and there, an extra bit not edited out by the label that helps the performance feel fluid and natural. Unfortuantely, it doesn’t seem to be the entire recording, and that would be nice to have, but closing on a newly recorded song is a good way to wrap things up. “Genesis” isn’t too intense, but still heavy with a mid-tempo pace that gives way to some slower material that focuses on some largely held melodic leads used for atmosphere. The rhythm will have you bobbing your head along, but it doesn’t really offer anything too unique for the Swedish Death Metal approach other than utilizing a stricter guttural vocal style compared to the previous recordings included on the compilation. Overall it’s a good song, and one fans of the style will find a little more accessable.
Supposedly the final pressing of this compilation will also feature three live bootleg videos. Unfortunately, the promotional copy that I received doesn’t have these with it, so I can’t really say whether they are good or not. But, in the long run, fans of obscure Death Metal recordings, or just the early nineties sound of it, should definately take notice. Evoked from Demonic Depths – The Early Years may essentially be a reissue with bonus material, but Century Media did a nice job with it by remastering from the master tapes, though it didn’t end up working in favor of the release when it came to the Promo 1992 tracks. But, the additional raw rehearsal cuts, even though there clearly was more to this tape than what is present, as well as the bonus song “Genesis” more than make up for the fact that devoted Evocation fans will wind up having to pay again for something essentially already in their collection. If you’ve never heard the band, or these recordings before, this is definitely a compilation worth checking out.
The Ancient Gate:
01. A Wind Has Risen – 1:06
02. Through the Darkened Peril – 3:28
03. The Ancient Gate – 3:37
04. Desolated Spirits – 3:23
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.