I still remember the day I ventured into the world of Swedish melodic death metal. The time, the mood, the buying of so many albums. There was At the Gates‘s Slaughter of the Soul, Dark Tranquillity‘s Projector and Damage Done, In FlamesJester Race and Clayman, The Haunted‘s debut and Made Me Do It, and Amon Amarth‘s Fate of Norns. All purchased and consumed within weeks of each other. I was fucking hooked—ignoring reason (and my food budget) to please my insatiable craving for everything this genre had to offer. From raspy, rumbling barks to crushing, neck-snapping riffs to thick, moody atmospheres, these records had my fists pumping and my mind spiraling down the darkest chasms of my subconscious. This year finds one of the greats of that original Swedish melodic death metal era making a return, even if their first full-length never saw the light of day until 2007. Releasing their debut at a time when many of the genre’s forefathers were on the up-and-up may suggest that Evocation aren’t even one of the “greats” or even one of the “founding fathers” of the genre. But, in order to avoid yet another “Big Four” in metal, let’s get on with Evocation‘s newest record, The Shadow Archetype.

Though Tales from the Tomb hit the shelves in the early ’00s, Evocation has actually been a thing since 1991 (the band broke up in 1993 and reformed in 2005). When that little record finally did drop, everyone found it riddled with Entombed, Grave, and Unleashed deathisms; rather than the melodic Evocation we know today. It wasn’t until 2008’s Dead Calm Chaos that the band found it’s stride, then they hit it hard with 2010’s Apocalyptic. After imitating Amon Amarth a bit too much on 2012’s Illusions of Grandeur, the band took five years to refocus and restructure. The result was Per M. Jensen on the kit and the band’s desire to return to the sound that made Dead Calm Chaos and Apocalyptic so great. The Shadow Archetype is here to settle a score and prove, once and for all, the hand the band has lent in keeping the genre alive.

“Into Ruins” gets The Shadow Archetype going in classic The Haunted fashion. After its gentle The Dead Eye build, follow-up track “Condemned to the Grave” blows sharp, red-hot shrapnel across a city-block of innocent bystanders. It’s got a catchy chorus, dive-bombing Witchery riffs, and Tjompe’s classic barks. But “Survival of the Sickest” utilizes its instrumental introduction with greater effect. “Blind Obedience” is a superb album interlude, filled with emotional sound-clips and layers of beautiful acoustic guitars. But then “Survival of the Sickest” follows it up with an attitude taken straight from the moodiest numbers on With Oden on Our Side. Though this track is heavy Amon Amarth, it works and adds a great vibe to the back-half of the album.

The other Amon Amarth-like tracks on the album are “Children of Stone,” “The Coroner,” and closer “Dark Day Sunrise.” But these tracks focus on that band’s ability to use simple guitar leads as the foundation, the walls, and the roofing. On the surface, these tracks are nothing more than a catchy chorus and sweeping, melodic guitar leads. But, when you slap on some dramatic builds and snare-snapping hits from Jensen, and you have some of the most memorable tracks on the album. The closer, in particular, is my favorite of them all. It has everything I could ever want from this album and it closes it perfectly.

Unfortunately, numbers like “Condemned to the Grave,” “Sulphur and Blood,” and the title track are so simple they disappear under the weight of the stronger tracks. Which is a bummer for “Condemned,” considering it’s the track that gets things started. Then there’s “Imperium Fall,” which has the opposite problem. It stands out like a sore, Entombed thumb. Don’t get me wrong, it rules, but it’s odd when compared to the rest of the album. The other issue with The Shadow Archetype (and one that I feel comes as no surprise) is the ear-fatiguing compression. Every track, but the DR11 “Blind Obedience,” is skull pounding. But, if you know the band, love their music, and need more of it in your life, these will be easy negatives to overcome.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: evocation.se | facebook.com/EvocationSwe
Releases Worldwide: March 10th, 2017

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  • Francesco Bordoni

    The cover looks like a creepier version of the art from Negura Bunget’s “Zi”

    • DrewMusic

      Indeed, kinda like how their sound is like a creepier version of (insert influential metal band here.) It’s good, sure, it’d probably slay live and could certainly serve as solid background tune-age, but I’ll take original beasts like Negura Bunget over essentially death metal circus animals any day. Yeah, it sounds good, but it also sounded good that time _____ did it.
      Rabble rabble rabble.

      • Francesco Bordoni

        Dude, calm your tits, I was talking about the album art. Negura Bunget isn’t even death metal.

        • DrewMusic

          Oh, internet, place of conversational tone-deaf gun jumping… I agreed with your 2 cents, then threw my own in, tits a-calm the whole time. I will embrace you into them soothingly if that’s what the situation requires.

          • Francesco Bordoni

            If you want a hug I’m your guy broseph

          • DrewMusic

            Woohoo, hugs all around! For succesfully steering this back in a positive direction, I reward thee: Behexen, Vredehammer and Belenos are all sweet bands I’ve recently discovered and now love, if you haven’t heard of any of them I strongly encourage you to check ’em out. Hope you dig at least one of them!

          • Francesco Bordoni

            Know them, know them and will surely check them out! Positivity! Booyah!

  • CaffeinatedHeadBanger

    I am Groot

    • Absolomb

      I’m glad someone saw that!

  • Tyr

    Treebeard? Whatever those things were from LOTR.

    • Wilhelm

      Ents

      • Tyr

        Thank you.

  • dblbass

    Trying to see if you guys like this album. And from the 6 comments that are here before mine…I still got no idea. Damn. Guess I’ll have to check it out for myself.

  • PLB

    I agree with the rating. Not gonna lie, never heard of evocation before they started to appear in my “release radar” playlist on spotify but I feel the band is getting so close to awesomeness that it’s disappointing how it all pans out. The song embedded in the review is a great example, as well as “the coroner”. You have to sit through an average song to reach the awesome riff/melody at the end. There are more examples on the album, wish they could work more more around these instead of playing hard to get.

    Edit: typo and and grammar

  • Excentric_13073

    Anybody? Nobody? … OK, I’ll do it.

    This album is too loud.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Whaaattt?

      • Wilhelm

        They are referring to the mastering process that compresses dynamics and drives the volume up.

        • Diego Molero

          Whaaattt??

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I was joking dude :)

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It is loud.

  • JL

    this is a 4/5 album. it’s great through and through. on my aoty list for sure

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Feels like the loudness war is lost at the moment…

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    Their 3rd album, “Apocalyptic” is a ripper! The opening track “Sweet Obsession”, is one of my favorite album openers of all time. FANTASTIC!! Their album “Dead Calm Chaos” is very solid as well. “Illusions of Grandeur” was ok, but a definite step down from their previous 2 releases. Hoping this new one kicks it up a few notches.

  • Elton Chagas

    Nobody mentioned Sulphur Aeon here. Disappointed with you guys.