Monday, October 31, 2011

Grotesque - In The Embrace Of Evil (1996)

In the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve, I present you with this fine slab of chaotic evil. Sweden’s Grotesque should not need any sort of introduction but alas, even in this day and age there are a handful of scenesters and poseurs out there in the Metal community that are not as well versed in the Tome of Metal as they should be. This excludes a handful of metal-bros and metal-sisters I know (you know who you are!) as well as the rest of the IllCon collective here of course. Simply put, Grotesque was the band that spawned At The Gates. That’s really all you need to know. OK, fine. I’ll elaborate a bit, I suppose...

Grotesque w
as formed in 1988 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Members included Offensor, Insulter, Goatspell, Necrolord, et al. If you don’t know their real names and or the bands that they would eventually help form or collaborate with, well you suck donkey balls off a giraffe’s anus, seriously. Bad imagery, sorry! Eh, not really...

In either case,
Necrolord, aka Kristian Wahlin, is the infamous artist whose artwork graced the covers of many bands including Bathory, Emperor, Necrophobic, and Dissection to name a few. Goatspell, aka Tomas Lindberg, went on to appear in At The Gates, Infestation, and The Crown. Insulter was a member of Liers In Wait and Diabolique. Offensor was in Runemagick at one point. So with that said, it is evident that Grotesque was hugely influential in the Gothenburg/Stockholm scenes. More importantly is that their series of demos and EPs would still prove to hold significant relevance even to today’s extreme metal scene. In The Embrace Of Evil is a compilation of this earlier material and was re-released together with At The Gates’ Gardens of Grief EP in 1999 on Black Sun Records.

The release opens up with an ominous, eerie, doomy, church-bell laden, goat-raping, beast of an intro. The next track however begins with some of the best riffage I have heard. The vocals on this first track simply kill and the song itself sets the precedent for the rest of the album to follow. The vocals are simply some of the most disturbing I have heard performed, especially on the latter half. I personally think this was one of Tomas Lindberg’s best performances. Despite the fact that Grotesque is labeled as ‘death/black metal,’ the music is clearly rooted in thrash. There are hints of death metal especially in the Incantation EP material but the music could easily be considered black metal due to its overtly satanic and evil pervasiveness lyrically. There are a couple of acoustical passages that are cool, but also included are some really disturbingly awesome intros such as the Tibetan monk-like chanting on Church Of The Pentagram which is even cooler. There's even keyboards in a song or two! I think...
Seriously folks, there's a little bit of everything for everyone on this album. OK, maybe not everyone but you get my point, hopefully.

Black, death, or thrash, however you want to call it, from the beginning of the opening track titled Thirteen Bells Of Doom to the final track
titled Ripped From The Cross, this is one chaotic, spastic, dark and thoroughly enjoyable release! There is not one song on here that isn’t fucking great! To quote Metal-Archives member Scissors, “It doesn't get much better than this. This is one of the greatest bands ever.”

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