Convulse – Evil Prevails (Svart Records)

Friday, 22nd November 2013
Rating: 8/10

Retro death metal from veterans long removed from the scene – who could’ve guessed there was still more left to mine in that vein? Convulse gets right back to business, cranking out vintage 90s death metal with everything you’d expect. There are a few nifty surprises for those willing to listen, however. Evil Prevails could have been a big hit in 1994, but how audiences will receive it today will rely heavily upon how fond they are of the early 90s Scandinavian sound.

“Unholy War” tries to establish some interest with an upbeat intro after an unremarkable opening track, but quickly falls back into similarly generic fare. Halfway through though a warm, dream-like interlude takes over. This is emblematic of Evil Prevails on the whole – unexpected shining moments of satanic luster wrapped around largely by-the-numbers sections of love-it-or-hate-it 90s death metal.

If that’s your thing, there’s plenty to love on Convulse’s return. “World Downfall” kicks in with a leering minor-key intro that looms and sways with Hypocrisy-like swagger before kicking in the door with a awesome, crushing chorus. Up next is album-highlight “God is Delusion,” which plays like a funeral service for the innocence of humanity, with two and three-part harmonies of mournful doom swinging and straining upon foundations of dirgey bass and expert off-time drum fills.

Acoustic and classical guitar sections are sprinkled throughout to good dramatic effect, such as on the sinister, bass-driven “Days are Dark,” allowing Convulse to put their own mark on tracks that at times might sound too much like old Morbid Angel. Intent on ending strong, “Oceans of Dust” showcases some of the albums most vicious guitars and bludgeoning drums side-by-side with great, otherworldly melodic strains.

Convulse don’t seem to have much rust on their blade given the nearly 20 years since their last release, but they do tend to return to familiar territory a little too often in order to fill out the runtime. It’s a shame they didn’t have more tracks like “God is Delusion” and “Oceans of Dust” stashed away somewhere. That could have been a truly monstrous return.

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