Revisiting: Cemetary An Evil Shade Of Grey


Some albums have an inherently nocturnal mood to them, a form of parent moods to all others; Cemetary combines the sensation of doom metal with a heavy metal twist with the lighter and more ethereal vein of death metal to create an album of suspension of the world to venture into an exploration of nocturnal, ambiguous and excitingly lawless worlds.

Like the primeval forest, the world of thought outside of what Society demands must be true is an unnerving place full of possibility and danger, and Cemetary tempers this with a more traditional heavy metal compositional style but uses some of the death metal method of song structure as a means of emotional conveyance, much like opera does in theater. Songs break to reconstruct themselves, and then burrow deeper into a circular wending of riffs that culminates in a collision of internal forces which forces the dormant mood to the surface, by reflexive contrast relegating the previous sensations of personable melancholy to the background and uncovering a more unsettling feel of indirect, invisible forces at work.

Featuring use of a left-hand technique that seems to achieve a two-note vibrato for a further ghostly sound, these songs betray an Iron Maiden-styled heavy metal background in both progression and harmonic structure, but augment this with extensive internal evolution in the death metal style. Many will recognize this band (and fellow travelers Tiamat) as the inspiration behind Opeth, who realized if they kept the death metal to choruses and added some bouncy self-pitying pretentious folk rock for the verses they could convince the basement NEETs of the world to pompously parade around telling others how Opeth was perhaps too deep for them, by reflex incarnating themselves as agents of profundity. Cemetary avoids that fate with a simple pragmatism in that its destabilizing obscurity and isolated emotion pairs itself with good times heavy metal, converting both so that the familiar becomes self-critical and the darkness warms so that it gains a friendly touch. This gives the album a perfect mental feel for an evening with friends and a pipe of dark tobacco, perhaps Dunhill Nightcap or one of the dark flakes that conceal their high strength behind matured harvest flavors.

As in a good tobacco, the power of An Evil Shade Of Grey blooms from within the darkness, appearing first as a light alternative but then taking on a demonic sense of perverting the familiar into the uncertain. This bloom then matures in its own darkness, and reintegrates with the more friendly sounds, creating a continuum which releases expectations and allows the blended moods of solitary introspection and vigilance against imminent camouflaged threats to become themselves a type of familiarity. Through that device, this simultaneously conventional and oddball album achieves a deep subconscious effect on the listener, like all good death metal unfolding so that past riffs shift context dramatically and create the sense of discovery for the listener.

Most remember this album for its selective use of acoustic guitar in with the death metal riffs, and its parallels of listenability and challenging emptiness, but its surface traits only serve to propel it deeper into its own brooding ambiguity. An Evil Shade Of Grey recently celebrated 23 years since its introduction, and remains as perfect for nighttime perambulation and contemplation as it did then, joining albums like the first Darkthrone and early doom metal in stimulating both the mind and the heart in a study of the dark spaces of existence.

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8 thoughts on “Revisiting: Cemetary An Evil Shade Of Grey

  1. Anthony says:

    Agree 100% This is one of the best Swedish death metal albums, and I’ve done more than my fair share of nocturnal perambulation with it as a soundtrack. The only flaw I can find with it is the weird pick-scratching-the-string noises that happen occasionally but often enough to be bit distracting.

    1. Robert says:

      I agree. The engineer should have cleaned up the guitars a bit. It is quite annoying and I’ve noticed the pick-scratching more on this album than any other death metal album. You can somewhat hear it in Scott Burns early production but it’s not as obvious as this.

      Brett, please add this album to the DLA. It is definitely worthy.

      1. 123 says:

        Other albums that should be added to the DLA:

        1)Molested – Blod-draum (
        2)Purtenance – Member of Immortal Damnation (
        3)Miasma – Changes (
        4)Shub Niggurath – The Kinglike Celebration (Final Aeon on Earth) (
        5)Mortuary Drape – All the Witches Dance (

        1. Why?
          There are enough “meh” albums in the DLA as it is for the sake of covering “musical avenues from back in the day”. Why introduce more B-C class albums?

  2. Meek Metalhead says:

    Swedish and Finnish death metal were good at creating moods, thats for sure.

    Will there be more (re)visits of bands that had lots of promise, but either called it quits, or went the watered down rock music route?

    1. Will there be more (re)visits of bands that had lots of promise, but either called it quits, or went the watered down rock music route?

      Yes, but probably not by me. Others need to support the site at this time because I am devoting most of my time to the Other Site.

  3. Egledhron says:

    An evil shade of grey, you say? How about fifty of them?

    That joke was terrible, I apologize. In all seriousness though, this album and Godless Beauty definitely deserve more recognition.

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