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Eucharist

Eucharist
June 22, 2014, 08:42:20 PM
While the DLA doesn't outright condemn this band, it seems it is excluded from the 'pantheon' of greats. And yet, I cannot get enough of their first album 'A Velvet Creation'. Most songs are well constructed and are centered around a main theme supported by meandering but relevant explorations. The handful of shaky arrangements are overcome by the expert ear for melody on display. This release was light-years ahead of its contemporaries, including In Flames, Dark Tranquility, even Unanimated. Why 'A Velvet Creation' never became a household name among melodic death aficionados is beyond me, but it probably had something to do with the muffled guitar tone and the unstable line-up. This unfortunately meant that Eucharist's above-mentioned less-than-stellar peers provided the template for future melodic metal, killing a nascent subgenre before it could ever reach maturation (some might consider TRitSiO the zenith of this style, and it was clearly enormously influential on it, but I would say that album is more closely aligned with traditional death metal due to the preponderance of non-diatonic riffing).

While Eucharist's debut is an essential part of the collection of anyone even remotely interested in melodic metal, their second outing 'Mirrorworlds' is an interesting listen but not much more than that.

You can download the band's discography off of their website in MP3 192kbps:
http://www.artnoir-productions.com/eucharist/

Re: Eucharist
June 22, 2014, 08:44:29 PM
As a side note, does anyone know why the name 'Eucharist' was chosen? I've read all the interviews I could find, but there is no mention of it.

Re: Eucharist
June 25, 2014, 05:29:34 AM
At the Gates' The Red in the Sky is Ours is much more superior as a whole to Eucharist's work.  And it has nothing to do with it being "closer to traditional death metal". It is about arrangement.
That album BREATHES. It transpires life. What I mean by this is that the stops, the pauses, the use of monophony, homophony and polyphony at selected places for specific effects, the changes in signature or alternation of sycopated with non-syncopated passages in a coherent manner was done to an effect greater than any of its peers. It is difficult to put it clearly without having to goal into excruciating detail, but it is not only about "proper" arrangement, it is about a certain inspiration that gives songs a certain life-like quality.

I don't know of any metal album that comes close to touching what TRitSiO did.  It is the closest Death Metal has come to assimilating classical music thinking into itself. It is not "classical interludes" or some "baroque patterns" or even the use of "strings". It's the kind of thinking in composition. The use of binary form in passages with some connecting sections that are not repeated. Repetition occurs, but not really in a pop way. Repetition of main parts occur in classical music as well. In this At the Gates album, there are no "choruses". 

As in good classical music, there is also no dominant aspect. Is the melodic aspect the most dominant? not really, it is ever-present, perhaps, but not the core. Is it the rhythmic aspect? no, it isn't but it's key to its success. Is it the wild yet rudimentary (by modern standards) drumming? no, but its efficiency and its not doing more than necessary is also important to the final goal. Also, the music is not dominated by any particular instrument section: by vocals, by guitars or by the drums. But each of them is absolutely essential in an almost equal way (alright, the vocals maybe a bit more peripheral).
This classical thinking at its core is what most metal fans (even the ones who worship this album) seem to be unable to grasp.

Quote
(...) when you make music everything has to be integrated, and that you are not able to detect the different elements. (...) Music is about integration. (...) all the different elements are connected. (...) there is no independent element. That tempo is not an independent element, that expression is not an independent element. That everything is constantly and permanently connected.
Daniel Barenboim
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCwthMqPGYo

Re: Eucharist
June 25, 2014, 07:39:36 AM
Perhaps my language was ambiguous. I am not claiming that A Velvet Creation is superior to TRitSiO -- the latter is clearly the more accomplished and more innovative work. I am simply pointing out that even though At the Gates' first album is regarded as a melodic death metal album, it has an entirely different approach to so-called "heavy metal death/black metal" bands like Sacramentum, Unanimated, Sentenced, and Eucharist.

TRitSiO has an almost unhinged quality that is reminiscent of moments of clarity and beauty amid the fractured psyche of a someone driven to madness by the modern world; in a word, manic. I find that I have to be in a particularly receptive mood to really appreciate this album.

Eucharist's debut filters melancholy emotions through a desire for something greater. It is more controlled and refined, which makes it a more palatable listen than AtG's debut. However, A Velvet Creation lacks the daring of its predecessor which ultimately consigns it to a lower echelon. Nonetheless I'd consider it a A- album that deserves more attention than it gets.

Re: Eucharist
June 25, 2014, 09:52:44 AM
Quote
Eucharist's debut filters melancholy emotions through a desire for something greater. It is more controlled and refined, which makes it a more palatable listen than AtG's debut.

This is where I completely disagree.
Palatable -> for some people, sure. Its harmony is more consonant.
More refined? no, not really. That is what I mean when I say metalheads do not understand the extent of the prowess of TRITSIO.  My above description and arguments were not philosophical or poetic, like what you said about it:

Quote
TRitSiO has an almost unhinged quality that is reminiscent of moments of clarity and beauty amid the fractured psyche of a someone driven to madness by the modern world; in a word, manic.

You're talking about impressions. I'm talking about composition.

Re: Eucharist
June 25, 2014, 07:07:06 PM
I agree that "A Velvet Creation" is a great album.  Definitely carves out its own niche, and requires full attention to absorb.  I would say it's more  ivory-tower-type music than AtG.  It offers a distinct and beautiful imaginative vision, but it seems less applicable to real life, and seems a little  youthful and unexperienced.

Re: Eucharist
June 26, 2014, 02:09:19 AM
More refined? no, not really.
Once again the ambiguities of language are obfuscating what I am trying to say. The word refined can refer to "developed or improved so as to be precise or subtle", but the definition I was going for was "elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste". Going by the latter definition, I would say Eucharist's aesthetic is much more refined than AtG by virtue of their ornate melodies and overall atmosphere of stateliness.

Quote
You're talking about impressions. I'm talking about composition.
Are not emotional/existential impressions the whole point of composition?

Structure and technique are only meaningful insofar as how they are put to use in communicating an experience, ideal, emotional revelation, etc. The form of a composition is subordinate to what it is trying to communicate.

No doubt there is a kind of 'mathematical' aspect to music appreciation, but if that's all you listen for, you're missing the forest for the trees.

Re: Eucharist
June 26, 2014, 02:21:57 AM
I agree that "A Velvet Creation" is a great album.  Definitely carves out its own niche, and requires full attention to absorb.  I would say it's more  ivory-tower-type music than AtG.  It offers a distinct and beautiful imaginative vision, but it seems less applicable to real life, and seems a little  youthful and unexperienced.

Interesting point -- I would tend to agree. I think this stems from the fact that Eucharist are rooted more so in the more escapist viewpoint as espoused by classic heavy metal, than they are in the realism-meets-mythology of death metal.

Also, you are right about them being youthful and unexperienced. I believe all the members were around 16-17 at the time of the album's release; some of their songs were written at an even younger age.

Re: Eucharist
June 26, 2014, 03:21:02 PM

Quote
You're talking about impressions. I'm talking about composition.
Are not emotional/existential impressions the whole point of composition?

Structure and technique are only meaningful insofar as how they are put to use in communicating an experience, ideal, emotional revelation, etc. The form of a composition is subordinate to what it is trying to communicate.

No doubt there is a kind of 'mathematical' aspect to music appreciation, but if that's all you listen for, you're missing the forest for the trees.

Ah, don't jump from tree to tree.
We both agree on the immense expressive power of early At the Gates.

I mentioned the technical and nuanced aspect of The Red in the Sky is Ours only because you were trying to say that Eucharist is more "refined" (yes, you said it after my initial response, but an implication of the sort was there from the beginning).

If we will talk about refinement, we are talking about technical devices and how they work to express things, correct. Eucharist doesn't seem to me as powerful or as versatile as early At the Gates.
They do seem more accessible and plain, though. More innocent, in a way. That being said, their music is really enjoyable.

Re: Eucharist
June 27, 2014, 07:24:02 AM
Once again the ambiguities of language are obfuscating what I am trying to say. The word refined can refer to "developed or improved so as to be precise or subtle", but the definition I was going for was "elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste". Going by the latter definition, I would say Eucharist's aesthetic is much more refined than AtG by virtue of their ornate melodies and overall atmosphere of stateliness.

What do you mean by "atmosphere of stateliness?

Re: Eucharist
June 27, 2014, 01:35:33 PM
Eucharist sets up rhythm more like a doom metal band. They remind me of Skepticism: create vast spaces, let guitar phrases intrude.

That's similar to what Immortal and Darkthrone did, except for them it was constant ambient drumming. This cut guitar free from drums, which enables more rhythmic variety.


Re: Eucharist
June 28, 2014, 02:58:15 AM

That's similar to what Immortal and Darkthrone did, except for them it was constant ambient drumming. This cut guitar free from drums, which enables more rhythmic variety.

The aim of Darkthrone is different. Eucharist is a Death Metal band, I don't think the solution for making the guitars and drums independent of each other is to relegate the drums to a machine-like function. I think that for simplicity, they are disconnected. Not because Eucharist is providing a clear refinement superior to At the Gates' use of percussion.


I've been practicing Kingdom Gone during this last month and I've noticed how effectively the drums are used in relation to the guitars to this effect. If anything, this album provides a template for freely flowing instruments that nonetheless coalesce to form a solid whole.

What happens in TRITSIO, and the reason why it is a step up from the demo, is that the drums take on a role as important as the guitars rather than a mere complement.  The guitars and drums are only tied in the sense that they must match beginnings and endings. Other than that, the drums are used effectively to bring dynamics to the music. Next time you guys listen to the album, try and make out how, when and WHY the drum patterns change in relation to the riffs. You'll notice that the patterns and changes in the drums take the front seat when the guitar riffs repeat or use more same-length notes, specially when at a slow speed. And the drum pattern will become flatter and less jumpy when you have guitar riffs that introduce more rhythmical variety. But the same exact feeling is never allowed to linger for long, thus you are never stagnant. At the same time the overall idea is preserved clearly and if you are paying attention closely you'll noticed it is never really broken into unrelated random riffs.The biggest divergence happens with transition riffs which are like taking in a breathe between two sections.


Right at the beginning of Kingdom Gone, for example, the same riff is repeated by the guitars 4 times, with one guitar strumming 2 chords as the other one repeating the first and main expression of the motif over each single chord. What happens in the drums is that for the first 2 instantiations of this riff, it plays a simple pattern on the toms, for the second pair, it plays a second pattern involving mid-paced double bass and the snare that makes this sound more crowded. When the 5th repetition arrives the guitar which was playing chords joins the one outlining the motif one time, on the 6th repetition the drums change again to a pattern that releases the tension of the previous pattern and one of the guitars plays the motif a fifth(interval) higher than the original pattern only to return to a unison for the 7th repetition of this riff.
This is only the beginning, this sort of patterns and non-conformity with the application of classical binary form with very smooth transitions is found throughout the whole song in different ways.
This first part I described is what I would call section A. They often use this "da capo aria" form ABA', where the A' is obviously an incarnation of the A section but also noticeably a variation of it, with At the Gates providing the variation by providing a different "tale".

Re: Eucharist
June 28, 2014, 06:30:27 PM
The word refined can refer to "developed or improved so as to be precise or subtle", but the definition I was going for was "elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste". Going by the latter definition, I would say Eucharist's aesthetic is much more refined than AtG by virtue of their ornate melodies and overall atmosphere of stateliness.

What do you mean by "atmosphere of stateliness?

This makes sense to me. The overall style/aesthetic of the Eucharist album is certainly more orderly, stately, rigid, contained or whatever other word you want to use. At the Gates has a more frantic and and desperate vibe to it aesthetically but this is executed with a higher degree of technical/musical proficiency (as fenrir rightly pointed out). It is easily the more accomplished and matured album of the two and brings to mind works such as Obscura or Hvis lyset tar oss in that both spirit and technical prowess should coalesce to transcend the stylistic limitations of the genres they originate in.

Re: Eucharist
June 29, 2014, 09:42:38 AM
The word refined can refer to "developed or improved so as to be precise or subtle", but the definition I was going for was "elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste". Going by the latter definition, I would say Eucharist's aesthetic is much more refined than AtG by virtue of their ornate melodies and overall atmosphere of stateliness.

What do you mean by "atmosphere of stateliness?

This makes sense to me. The overall style/aesthetic of the Eucharist album is certainly more orderly, stately, rigid, contained or whatever other word you want to use. At the Gates has a more frantic and and desperate vibe to it aesthetically but this is executed with a higher degree of technical/musical proficiency (as fenrir rightly pointed out). It is easily the more accomplished and matured album of the two and brings to mind works such as Obscura or Hvis lyset tar oss in that both spirit and technical prowess should coalesce to transcend the stylistic limitations of the genres they originate in.

Thanks for the clarification. I don't see how I did not understand what he meant with "stateliness"... :)
My argument remains the same, that that does not make it necessarily more refined, but rather safer-sounding, only.

Re: Eucharist
June 30, 2014, 02:13:32 PM
At the Gates used more impulsive rhythms with abrupt changes.

The tendencies that some have noted for the drums to quiet down during busy guitar parts but pick up during the repetitive ones would be familiar to any jazz listener, and by jazz I don't mean the lite-jazz-fusion crap that numu metalcore bands pick up on, but the old stuff. I think it's even older than that: constant drumming is generally brain dead, so musicians use it selectively, but it can't make a suitable sonic appearance when something else is the focal point.

Eucharist go for a very formal and logical sequence of introduced material that is the antithesis of the more chaotic lunge that At the Gates takes. It creates an austere and distant feeling like that in many prosperous middle class homes, and introduces a deathlike absence into it.