I just love the Scandinavians. They just know how to play metal the way I like it. That chainsaw guitar, the capability to write meaningful songs and generally keeping alive a scene that has been around for thirty years and keeping it fresh and exciting. In this case, we have the mighty Evocation, whom after a five year hiatus return to blow you away with The Shadow Archetype.
Evocation started pretty late in death metal, 1991, and black metal was emerging as the scene that caught peoples’ attention. Ultimately it was too much for Evocation to face and they disbanded a couple of years later. Dead Calm Chaos came out of nowhere in 2005 and since then Evocation have defined their sound with each release, and with The Shadow Archetype, Evocation have surpassed even themselves and released an album that I know will be on my album of the year list.
Things have not been easy for Evocation of late though, as it has taken five years for this release and the reformation of the band when it was split in half after founding members had departed. Doubts were raised as to whether Evocation would continue, but I tell you, they have made the correct choice and have released their best album to date by far.
Metal Blade, one of the pioneer labels keeping metal alive, now have Evocation on a world wide deal and Evocation will use their backing to promote this masterpiece of melo-death metal to the masses and push to the forefront of the scene. The album as a whole is based on psychologist Carl Jung’s take on the individual and their various personalities. “The Shadow Archetype” is the darkest one and one that the individual does not divulge to others as it represents the dark force of human nature.
After the intro of “Into Ruins”, “Condemned to the Grave” stomps its way through the speakers and the first thing that is apparently clear is the production and sound of this release. Each note, each instrument and vocals have been made to sound powerful and heavy, but each role plays it’s part to make the whole record complete. The harmonies, melodies, rhythm section and Thomas Josefsson vocals are just perfect in the mix. Thomas’ vocals must have a special mention here as they are his best I have ever heard him and are guttural but almost clear and just fit this and every track perfectly. The riffs of Marko and Simon work incredibly well and its clear to see that Simon has brought death metal of today in the riffs, whereas Marko is still reminiscing of the glory days of old. The mixture works perfectly and let’s hope this standard is maintained throughout the album.
“Modus Operandi” is next and again it’s a melancholic riff that opens up proceedings before speeding up, courtesy of session drummer Per Moller Jensen. Per is a veteran of the scene and pounds his drums as if there was no tomorrow and does his reputation the world of good on this record. Gustaf Jorde’s bass is prominent throughout this song, more so than others on this album, particularly throughout the melodic guitar leads.
“Children of Stone” starts with a doomier riff and then Thomas’ growls are just exceptional. I love a song when it starts of like that, when a growl sets the tone and you know it’s death metal all the way. The riffs and drums speed up and I couldn’t help but bang my head like no tomorrow in approval. The structure and time changes of this song are just exceptional and every note, vocal and sound is just perfect. This is probably one of the best examples in the album of how Evocation mixes things up for all fans of speed, melody and straight forward death metal.
“The Coroner” is one of the fastest tracks on the album and one to get the pit started. No blast beasts here, just fast drumming and a stunning riff during the chorus, which have to be heard to be believed. Evocation goes for the heavy sound rather than blast beats and this is the best example of how to be heavy without blasting at 100mph. A stunning track and vocal performance again from Thomas, just makes this song breathe and for the listener to raise their horns in appreciation.
How can this album get any better? Well, we now have the title track, “The Shadow Archetype” and after the intro we have one of the best riffs of the whole album. I can’t stop banging my head and raising my horns as I write this. There are only so many times I can use the word “perfect”, but the drumming and the chomping opening riffs got this neck windmilling and myself smiling. The double bass of Per again, the vocals of Thomas, the guitar riffs of Marko and Simon and Gustaf keeping everything together makes this a worthy title track.
After an acoustic solo of “Bind Obedience”, “Survival of the Sickest” with all of the aforementioned pleasantries is very close to being an Amon Amarth track, but I am sorry as I feel this is just simply better than Amon Amarth. I don’t know how many times I broke my neck to this song. You can’t help yourself but be immersed in this brilliance.
“Sulphur and Blood” sees Evocation use more harmonies and melancholy courtesy of Paradise Lost, but the grinding riffs are just mesmerising. “Imperium Fall” is the fastest track on the album and this is one to pick up the pace in a live environment and get the pit started.
“Dark Day Sunrise” is the album closer and I just pictured myself with the band on stage with my horns in the air appreciating what I was witnessing. The harmonic, stomping, chopping riffs and double bass work of this track is just, well you know, perfect. This is a fitting way to end the album and has Evocation showing their gratitude for the listener appreciating their music and for sticking with them. As the song fades into the distance, you can’t help but reflect what truly is an outstanding album and, as previously stated, one that will certainly be on my album of the year list.
Evocation are not a band to get pits with every track but just offer pure head banging, horns and beer-fueled metal. They have the listener appreciate a band that have had their fair share of hardship over the years but are still doing it for us fans. For me, Obituary has their Cause of Death, Autopsy has their Mental Funeral, Entombed have their Left Hand Path. I think it’s safe to say, Evocation have their The Shadow Archetype. How will they top this? I leave it to you, Evocation.
The Shadow Archetype is out now