Home > Music > Grotesque – In The Embrace of Evil (1996)

Grotesque – In The Embrace of Evil (1996)

Is there a better way to start off your year than with the band that eventually became At The Gates? Probably.

For that alone, Grotesque is historically notable. Furthermore, guitarist Kristian Wåhlin (aka Necrolord) went on to become one of the most influential illustrators in metal. The demos and EP that this compilation showcases occupy an odd middle ground between older, “primitive” forms of extreme metal and the more elaborate songwriting that At the Gates would employ on their early albums. No, we haven’t talked about bands evolving into more complicated forms enough. Luckily for us, Grotesque was actually quite good at evolution…

The first I heard of this band was actually “Incantation”, which first grabbed me with its dynamic range and relatively complicated song structure more than its profuse blasting. Little of the songwriting on this album goes as far as this seven minute epic, but it’s still a good example of what to expect. Grotesque also has the consistent advantage over those formative ATG works in the strength of its production, which is simply louder and more aggressive than successors. To be fair, this compilation had some remastery to its credit, but the overall production style is rather more to my tastes than the thin and dry tones of The Red In The Sky Is Ours. Arguably, the musicianship lags behind the songwriting, since the riffs and drumming, especially on the first half, drift out of sync (and occasionally in overall tempo) more than is professional, although those who like their extreme metal extremely raw will probably appreciate such.

The fact this is a compilation surely alters your listening experience compared to, for instance, listening to the original Incantation EP from which part of this was sourced. Three different production styles make themselves apparent on this work, and they apparently don’t correspond perfectly to the order these tracks were initially released or recorded. I tend to prefer the guitar tone on the earlier, sloppier section of the album to the chalkier middle, but that’s just an opinion and should not be over-considered. Also notable is the appearance of two straight up rerecordings at the end, roughly contemporaneous to this album’s release and the breakup of ATG. Stylistically, they fit in pretty well, and I believe that the actual composition of “Ripped (From the Cross)” predates that of anything else on here. It’s a nice bonus that gives me some insight into what this band was trying to do, even given the assuredly meatier production 1996 was able to give it.

So because of huge Swedish-shaped chunks in my metal listening (into which bands like Entombed, Dismember, and Carnage, amongst others, would fit nicely), I don’t actually know how well this sort of content fits into the influences of local metal musicians, but for a while it was my go-to album for inserting extended and elaborate compositional ideas into a straight up “brutal” framework. It still holds up today, if you ask me.

Highlights: “Angels Blood”, “Nocturnal Blasphemies”, “Incantation”

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  1. 2017/06/12 at 18:20

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