Eucharist’s A Velvet Creation is an album from 1993 that I missed, although in fairness it appears that it was also missed at the time. Originally released in 1993, (I tried very hard to confirm the actual release date, including emailing Regain Records, the successor to Wrong Again Records who first distributed this, but to no avail,) the album was re-released in 2001, and when an album gets a reissue less than a decade after it came out it’s either because the album is explosively popular and warrants re-issue, or the original pressing didn’t get distributed very well and a different label wants to take a shot at it. This record falls firmly in the second category.
“Greeting Immortality” opens on some lovely interlacing acoustic guitar lines. It gives the impression of a record that’s going to be more “melodic” than it actually is.
This Production Is Awful
As soon as you hear the first obviously triggered snare sample you can easily imagine why this did not capture the imaginations of its local scene. In terms of production, this record sounds dead as hell. The guitar tone is high-gain but very dulled, with basically no high-end bite to speak of, which makes the playing itself sound soft. The bass seems to be yet another victim of being plugged directly into the desk, it also sounds incredibly flat, although it may also just be significantly too quiet. It feels absolutely ridiculous that having the bass be this low on a professional studio recording was ever considered the standard. Why? I’m begging for answers.
As well, there’s considerable gated reverb on the snare, and reverb on the vocals, which gives the extremely dull guitar sound more of an immediate presence, making you focus on them, and making a good vocal performance feel very distant. Sometimes, as a guitarist, you listen to metal albums and think “ok, maybe you can turn the gain down just a LITTLE bit,” but listening to A Velvet Creation will quickly remind you why you almost never end up doing that, as these flattened, completely anemic guitar tones fill up most of the audio space and dare you to be excited about them.
Anyway, Returning to “What is Melodic Death Metal?”
In my article about the early history of “MDM Before Slaughter,” I identified that what birthed the genre, the concept of MDM was that bands were not merely playing melodic riffs, but that they were building their identity around them in an obvious fashion. I say this because melodic riffs had always been a part of death metal before the emergence of MDM. Even before Symbolic, to use a prime example, Death had frequently used melodic riffs on tracks like “Zombie Ritual,” on Scream Bloody Gore and the verse riff of “Lack of Comprehension” from Human.
In spite of that, what made the original “Death Metal” category separate as it emerged in the US was the ugliness of the sound, especially in comparison to the dying days of thrash metal, when bands were upping their production values while also putting out some of their most technical work. The same ugliness was apparent in the early Swedish Death Metal scene which combined extreme metal influences with a notable tinge of punk and hardcore, easily evident on a track like Entombed’s “When All Life Has Ceased.”
However, we return to my original point, that a degree of melodic influence had always been somewhat apparent in Swedish DM, especially on an album like Dismember’s Like An Everflowing Stream and its opening track “Override of the Overture,” and its chorus.
What made the Gothenburg sound” distinct from the “Stockholm sound,” aside from production style, was the fact that instead of using diatonic melody as a tool of contrast, or an occasional seasoning, it was the pure focus. Dark Tranquillity’s Skydancer and In Flames’ The Lunar Strain feature almost entirely minor scale/aeolian mode riffs, and this is an approach reflected in both groups’ earlier demos.
What Does That Have To Do With Eucharist?
Eucharist does not fit that style, precisely. While I’m loathe to attribute any band’s lack of fame or financial success to their artistic decisions rather than economic factors surrounding the group, Eucharist’s A Velvet Creation is what I would call a slightly-more-melodic variation on the Stockholm sound than something that requires a new category the way that Skydancer or Lunar Strain or Terminal Spirit Disease clearly do.
This album is in a no-man’s-land between the Stockholm and Gothenburg approach to death metal. It doesn’t fit cleanly into either category. While that doesn’t make the album any less worthy of study, as a separate issue I simply did not find this record very compelling. Since the group leans more heavily on riffs typical of the uglier Stockholm style, one I’ve never really loved, I had a hard time digging in, and that was made even harder by the production choices made here, which stylistically suit neither the Stockholm nor Gothenburg sound. This album pretty much bored me, but not in the frustrating sort of way that lead me to write so much about Sacrilege. I don’t know.
Conclusion: Consider this album on its own merits, but do so yourself. I really don’t have anything to say about it on the whole. It really doesn’t make me reconsider what I already wrote about the early history of MDM.