Reviews

Convulse, Evil Prevail on Evil Prevails

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With the recent deluge of long-defunct death metal bands getting back together to cash in on their fanbase for cold, cynical reasons (like paying their mortgage or getting school clothes for their kids. Fucking sellouts!), the biggest surprise may be how decent most of the new material has been. Though our fear was (and is) warranted—most of these bands made these muddy and brilliant albums when they were in their late teens and early twenties, usually two-plus decades into the past—the grimy, sulfur hearts of their units has been successfully revived. Finland’s Convulse are a great example of this: following Autopsy’s lead, they changed little but managed to twist enough to make them sound alive. Evil Prevails, their first record in damn near twenty years, is fine old school death metal with a few surprises. Like many of the comeback releases from the last five years or so, it confidently stands with the band’s best and most adored material.

The irony with nineteen and twenty year olds churning out filthy death metal obsessed with mortality and decay is that they’re ripening young dudes; the guys with leathery faces and thinning hair better represent the music many of these bands made in their twenties. Evil Prevails demonstrates this beautifully. It’s a raw, cagey DM album with lulls for the occasional acoustic outro and (!!!) breakdown. But it doesn’t come off as a sad attempt to recapture their youth: it’s filled with fetid riffs, curdled growl-barking, and capable but never flashy drums. In other words, it’s real old school death metal at its best. Part of the reason the whole OSDM thing never took off was that most of the guys they were ripping off were technically still around. And now they’re getting back together, they can directly school the awkwardly scraggly kids playing chunky riffs through intentionally lousy-sounding equipment. No better time for Convulse to come back than now.

Standouts like the theatrical “God is Delusion” and the sneakily-included breakdown in “World Downfall” light up the album’s first half, while closer “Oceans of Dust” sludges its way through five-and-a-half minutes of unsanitary death metal at both its slowest, doomy trudge and jittery, verminic scurry. Evil Prevails is packed with dissonant harmonies and chunky, tunneling riffs. Bands like Convulse are doomed when they try to bring too much new in, as part of their initial appeal was that they were so straightforward and bare bones in their DM approach. It is absolutely nothing new, but it’s old done correctly. Their comeback does not disappoint, and shines a fresh light onto a very old, very well-tread genre. By exhuming the corpses of bands like Convulse, you’re getting a more accurate take on what they started with. They know stasis, they know rot, they know decay. Now they’re back to tell you about it.

Convulse’s Evil Prevails comes out November 1 on Svart. You can stream the track “Unholy War” here and pre-order the album here.

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