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Grotesque - In the Embrace of Evil
Review: Early Satanic metal from the pioneers of At the Gates addresses the same concepts that evolved black metal but takes a much more death metal interpretation through polyrhythmic phrasing and structuralist architectures. This album unites a session of early material and two later recording sessions, meaning that it is a time lapse double album of a band emerging from itself - it grows and it mutates, erratically, but beautifully, into a direction visibly incendiary in inspiring At the Gates.
The first part of this album showcases frenetic and violent early songs in the crossover of percussive speed metal with early death metal riff styles and structural variations, especially in the tendency of Satanic bands like Slayer to use strange pieces of songwriting to build logically communicative top-level architectures. Unsurprisingly, the first half of the album bears a great similarity to pioneers Slayer as well as Sepultura EPs of years past; its songs are fast but extract turns of melody and structure and the art of recombinance to reveal an inherent pattern. Similar to middle 80s works of thrash-influenced metal where chorus lines determined major song rhythm and thus a predictable sequence of emphasis points for any phrase, this music rages along nicely with a somewhat confused but aesthetically coherent and structurally focused textural evolution.
The stylistic change to follow appears as obscure but makes sense given the pattern of thinking suggested by the composition of the first half of the album, which aimed at making fluid fast music with slowly but inexorably shifting organic substructures. A slow melting and recombination of momentum in each riff allows a melody to gel from the associative structures of the song, but the abrupt narrative of violence in embedded rhythms gives the music its underlying strength and encodes an artistic portrayal of an abstract perspective on human aggression. Beautiful in ways that never reach the aesthetic, this is although in many ways unimportant still a beautiful example of the variation and integrity of expression of evil will through music.