Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Convulsed - Reflections (1994)

I actually prefer this album to 'World Without God'. I know all of the 'OSDM' dorks who weren't even born when this was released will get their precious little butthole's all angsty and out of whack, but I couldn't care any less. The fact is, I wasn't one of the many folks who were whining and pissing and moaning when bands like Entombed and Pungent Stench began to incorporate a little rock & roll into the mix. I grew up listening to The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath as much as I zoned out to the sounds of Carcass, Bolt Thrower and Immolation. For me, classic rock and death metal were both essential to my aural diet and when some of the more extreme bands started to incorporate those slightly lighter elements into the equation, I was all for it. Sure, I was a little bummed when I noticed that Entombed hadn't released another full on death metal album and of course not everyone who went down this route came out a winner (Carcass), but I certainly wasn't against a little experimentation, so long as the band in question knew what the fuck they were doing. Convulsed (as was seemingly the case with most early Finnish death/grind bands) knew exactly what they were doing and the end result is something that I find to be infinitely more fulfilling than their earlier,  derivative and rather bland traditional death metal material.

I like the fact that the music on this album never seems to take itself too seriously. There's a jovial and whimsical vibe to each track that brings to mind the work of fellow Finns, Amorphis and Xysma, both of whom (along with Disgrace) followed a similar, if not the same path as Convulsed with albums that delved further and further into mystical and hallucinogenic wonderlands that were bound to alienate the more "militant" death metal minds.

It's rather unfortunate to me that with the newfound fascination for all things ancient and decrepit, Convulsed have undergone the obligatory resurrection only to return to the more generic style of their first album, obviously in an attempt to capitalize on everyone's "old school" needs and desires. Bad enough that they bailed after this album with no hope of any further exploration of the strange new land they had discovered through its creation. Fortunately for me, they had created and released this album so that I may return to it from time to time and get my psychedelic fix when needed. You wouldn't be far off the mark were you to compare this to Afflicted's 'Prodigal Sun' as both bands had a knack for the ethereal whilst retaining much of their original sound.

It's easy to forget how much of a great time the 90's truly were for music. Sure, if you were solely subjected to what was being churned out by the mainstream media, than maybe it wasn't so great (though I'll take Jane's Addiction and Soundgarden over Lil' Wayne and Pink ANY fucking day of the week), but if you were hip to what was going on beneath the surface (and I don't merely mean listening to death and black metal), there was a whole universe of abstract and interesting things going on. The 90's were perhaps the peak of musical experimentation as evidenced by stellar releases from Disharmonic Orchestra, Today is the Day, Brutal Truth, Neurosis, Melt Banana, Monastat 7, OLD, Godflesh, Meathook Seed and so on. The list is, thankfully, endless, and among those sonic pioneers who bravely went where no musician had gone before were Convulsed and I for one count 'Reflections' among the classic releases of that decade.

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