Slaughter of the Soul‘s 20th Anniversary of Awfulness

"Mud cake" - delicious.
Article by Daniel Maarat

Twenty years ago to the day, At the Gates completed their descent into Fredrik Nordström-produced, commercial pop garbage with Slaughter of the Soul. Since the Death Metal Underground does not celebrate mediocre Eurotrash speed metal (Go listen to Artillery instead), we will be blowing out the candles for a more significant release for the underground featuring many of the same musicians.

Grotesque – Incantation (1989)

The "In the Embrace of Evil" compilation contains, amongst other things, the entirety of the Incantation EP.

Grotesque’s legendary Incantation 12”, 45 rpm EP turns twenty-five this year. The only studio release of the progressive black death madhouse features the twin guitar and songwriting talents of Kristian “Necrolord” Wåhlin (perhaps better known for his contributions to the visual arts) and Alf Svensson. The melodically flowing compositions and shifting time signatures present on At the Gates’ The Red in the Sky is Ours (see former editor and continuing author David Rosales’s excellent article) appear in a more bloodthirsty, thrashier form on the first three songs. Following those are two earlier compositions of simple but very well done speed metal ensure the appreciation of even the most Neanderthal headbangers.

Most probably first heard Grotesque on the Projections of a Stained Mind Swedish death metal compilation or on the remixed and rearranged In the Embrace of Evil career anthology from 1996. In the Embrace of Evil has been quietly reissued this year by Hammerheart in a limited digipack format and Candelight in the standard jewel case with the original mastering intact for the first time. There is no ridiculous overuse of dynamic range compression for the sole benefit of losers with Apple iPhones and earbuds excruciating everyone else. Buy the CD, not the hipster reverse needle drop LP; In the Embrace of Evil was only released on CD back in the mid-nineties and an LP pushing fifty minutes in length can only have poor, distorted sound. Hear Grotesque’s journey from Satanic, Sepultura -worshiping first wave maniacs to black leather trench coat-clad, death metal exceptionalism.

19 thoughts on “Slaughter of the Soul‘s 20th Anniversary of Awfulness”

  1. vOddy says:

    After hearing Metallica in the car of my friend’s dad, I realized that music could be interesting, and thus I got in to melodic death metal.

    People kept praising Slaughter Of The Soul, but even my stupid young self could tell that it wasn’t really that good. There’s just way better music to listen to.

  2. neville says:

    Thanks for the note.

  3. Poser Patrol says:

    Very interesting. You can hear a direct lineage between this and Gardens of Grief.

    What’s the word on Wahlin’s other band Liers in Wait?

    1. Daniel Maarat says:

      Uh Incantation is from 1990.

      1. Poser Patrol says:

        …and Gardens of Grief was 1991. What’s your point?

        1. Daniel Maarat says:

          Misplaced comment. Not supposed to be a response.

    2. Daniel Maarat says:

      Necrolord is the overlord. Liers in Wait is more Morbid Angel and Deicide influenced (no direct aping like Luciferion) compared to The Red in the Sky is Ours’ Immolation.

      1. Poser Patrol says:

        I’ve had the mp3s of Spiritually Uncontrolled Art for a number of years and I revisit it every now and then but nothing really sticks. I just gave the EP another listen and it’s the same story: very frantic and schizophrenic sounding, but nothing really rises above the bedlam to latch on to.

        I was just curious if other folks thought there was something there.

        1. Daniel Maarat says:

          It’s not as great as Incantation or The Red in the Sky is Ours but Necrolord’s backwards riff salad guitar heroics are still worthwhile. Honestly even The Red in the Sky is Ours is a let down from the ridiculously great Incantation title track for me.

        2. Anthony says:

          I like it quite a bit actually. I don’t find it schizophrenic at all. It’s certainly weird and frantic, but I find the fun of that release to lie in seeing how the chaos eventually resolves itself, which it (usually does) quite nicely. It reminds me a bit of Crimson Massacre’s sole LP in that respect.

          Necrolord was also in a similarly out-there band called Decollation who only did one EP. It’s a bit more restrained than Liers in Wait, but certainly comparable. There’s also a fair bit of Nocturnus in it. The vocals tend to turn people off. They’re similar to the shouts on Suffer’s album.

        3. Nuclear Whore says:

          I feel the same as you.

  4. TomBombadil says:

    This is great, thank you. TRITSIO was the first album I encountered that I encountered that at least in parts managed to realize my dream of playing no riff more than twice in repetition and still make a coherent piece of music. This Grotesque album is quite pleasing to listen to as well.

  5. fenrir says:

    Alf Svensson <3

  6. Charlie says:

    Always bashing the popular but alsways watching tranny porn secretly.

  7. morbideathscream says:

    The Grotesque material is superior to anything they released under the at the gates moniker. Listened to slaughter of the soul once and that was enough. Don’t like the melodic Gothenburg death metal sound in general. The material on in the embrace of evil is essential Swedish death.

  8. DropsofAcidicBrainMatter says:

    It would be a good time for a writer to revisit Merciless – The Awakening, it is fucking infuriating how that album is passed over with a quick glance in the Swedish Death Metal book.

    1. Daniel Maarat says:

      The author praises the album, he just says it’s musically thrash metal. He’s right. It’s like how Mayhem’s Deathcrush is a fusion of speed metal and hardcore punk rather than Bathory.

    2. morbideathscream says:

      The Awakening is indeed an underrated Swedish death gem. I believe that album has a favorable review in the old anus archives if I’m not mistaken

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