Friday, March 21, 2014

Grotesque - The Black Gate is Closed

Released in early 1989, The Black Gate is Closed is the second demo from one of the earliest Black/Death Metal bands from Sweden, Grotesque. One might not recognize this as the same entity that spawned Incantation or the more widely available In the Embrace of Evil. However, it actually sounds like the logical predecessor to the Gardens of Grief E.P. from At the Gates.

The production is completely different from the band's better-known material. Unlike their later recordings, which possessed a razor-sharp guitar tone and more treble overall, the sound here is dominated by bass. The guitars sound rather blunt and everything comes together to create a dull wall of sound.

Though two of these tracks appear on later recordings, they are hardly recognizable. "Blood Runs from the Altar", in particular, seems to have changed quite a bit from the version on this tape. The riffs are played in more of a traditional Death Metal way, as opposed to later on. As well, the vocals are much deeper and somewhat reminiscent of the Black/Death Metal bands from Brazil, such as Vulcano. The drumming is more militaristic and rigid, unlike the style utilized on Incantation. The blast beats are very stiff and give the songs kind of an oppressive feeling.

The Black Gate is Closed was quite a bit ahead of what the other bands in the Swedish underground were up to, at the time. It sounds more evil than Bathory's Blood Fire Death, released the previous year, and is almost more intense than anything Nihilist was up to at the time. The sound may be a little shocking to those only familiar with Incantation, but it is still a solid piece of Death/Black Metal.