Convulse - Evil Prevails | Review

Like many of metal's underground forebears, it's thanks to the internet that cult Finnish death metal band Convulse's reputation has increased dramatically since its original demise in 1994. With fans rediscovering the band's bestial debut, 1992's World Without God – along with a well-deserved reissue of the album by label Relapse in 2010 – Convulse finds itself in the position of being more respected than ever.

It's no surprise then to find the band back in action. Original members Rami Jämsä (guitars and vocals) and Juha Telenius (bass) were joined by a couple of new recruits for live dates in 2012, and the band released the two-song Inner Evil EP in January this year. Now, close to two decades since it last released an album, Convulse is set to return with a new full-length, Evil Prevails. The album is heavy on the macabre musical atmospherics and lyrical savagery, and brings plenty of old-school Scandinavian pummel. Nothing surprising in that, of course; no one expected Convulse to return with an album replete with über-technical wonderments.

Vintage brutality and the stench of 90s butchery is expected, and that's exactly what's delivered. Gut-punch lurches of grinding riffs, thrash-worthy soloing, and cavernous vocals play out over blast-beaten terrain on tracks like "We Kill Our Kind" and "Reborn in Chaos". Gentler acoustics feature on "Unholy War" and "God is Delusion", and "Oceans of Dust" and "Days Are Dark" make space for doomier, groove-heavy rampages too.

Evil Prevails might well signal Convulse's full resurrection, but there's little evidence of any maturing or progression, as such. Still, that's no bad thing. Jämsä's growls are as throat-scouring as they ever were, the guitars are downtuned to fittingly gruesome degrees, and the album's production is certainly the band's best yet – all dank and dark analog annihilation, with a black metal rawness in its tremolo-ripping parts.

The songs themselves feature gritty harmonizing and plenty of skewed melodies plucked straight from the 90's, and while that means Evil Prevails isn't innovative whatsoever, you can safely mark it down as an album that doesn't tarnish Convulse's reputation in the least. It's a firm reminder that no school is keener on dispensing lessons in auditory violence like the old one.

Craig Hayes 

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Craig Hayes is music writer based in Aotearoa New Zealand. He is a contributing editor, reviewer, and writes a monthly metal column at North American site PopMatters. He contributes loud words elsewhere around the web, on sites such as Metal Bandcamp and Backlit, and at home in NZ, he is a freelance writer and radio producer. Craig favours sounds from the metal, experimental and noise scenes, and has a crippling love of Krautrock, vintage progressive rock, and proto-metal too. You can find Craig losing followers daily on twitter @sixnoises