Evoken Reissue Embrace the Emptiness 2LP on Season of Mist

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

So there had to be some measure of self-awareness at work back in 1998 when New Jersey death-doomers Evoken titled their hour-long debut album Embrace the Emptiness, right? I’m not sure even the band could’ve known just quite how much that would become the ethic by which just about everything they did following would abide. I was fortunate enough in my time to play a couple shows alongside Evoken, and whatever room they were in, they never failed to cast a dark, ultra-bleak pall over the place. Just astoundingly heavy and astoundingly miserable in a way that sometimes gets lost in bands of their ilk in favor of theatrical melodrama. No way. Evoken were always onto a rawer vision of the form.

Season of Mist has Embrace the Emptiness as a 2LP up for ordering now. If you didn’t see the date above, this record turns 20 next year. If you’re unfamiliar, I’ve included a YouTube stream below. It kills.

From the PR wire:

evoken embrace the emptiness

EVOKEN reissue classic album ‘Embrace the Emptiness’

EVOKEN have announced the re-issue their much sought-after debut album ‘Embrace the Emptiness’ (1998) as a limited vinyl edition via Season of Mist. The album is available as a limited pressing of 666 hand-numbered copies on 180 gram black double vinyl. Pre-orders are available at the Season of Mist E-Shop.

EVOKEN’s debut album ‘Embrace The Emptiness’ is an underground doom metal classic. It’s seven tracks are absolutely crushing without sacrificing an ounce of melancholic and melodic beauty. ‘Embrace The Emptiness’ is the true essence of classic deathly Doom.

Track-list
Side A: Intro / Tragedy Eternal
Side B: Chime the Centuries’ End / Lost Kingdom of Darkness
Side C: Ascend into the Maelstrom / To Sleep Eternally
Side D: Curse the Sunrise

‘Embrace the Emptiness” Recording line-up
Vince Verkay (ex-FUNEREUS): drums
Nick Orlando (ex-FUNEBRARUM, ex-FUNEREUS): guitars
John Paradiso (GRIM LEGION): vocals, guitars
Steve Moran (ex-RIGOR SARDONICOUS): bass
Dario Derna (KROHM, ex-FUNEBRARUM, RITUAL CHAMBER, VETUS OBSCURUM): keyboards

https://www.facebook.com/evokenhell
https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=evoken

Evoken, Embrace the Emptiness (1998)

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Evoken, Atra Mors: Through the Dark Gates

Posted in Reviews on August 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Now in their 18th year (20th if you count their beginnings as Funereus), Lyndhurst, New Jersey, death/doom outfit Evoken remain both an anomaly in their surroundings and crushing in both their sonics and their atmospherics. Their new album, Atra Mors, is their first since 2007’s A Caress of the Void and marks their debut on Profound Lore, following a 2010 I Hate Records split with Beneath the Frozen Soil (review here). For anyone who has never encountered the band before, they are unrelenting in their doomed miseries. The music, even when it moves fast, is lurching, lumbering under the weight of its enveloping sadness. We think of this sound now as classic, and Evoken’s work within it is a part of the reason why. Death/doom acts are few and far between on the East Coast (believe me), but though Evoken were preceded by the likes of Winter, the fact that original members John Paradiso (vocals, guitar) and Vince Verkay (drums) have been able to stick it out through the years and ensuing trends while remaining loyal to the band’s original mission – not without expanding the creative scope – has led to a growing respect for what they do that Atra Mors can only further. The album itself is eight tracks and 67 minutes, broken down so that pairs of extended tracks are broken up by interludes that presumably are meant to allow the listener a chance to catch their breath before being submerged again in Evoken’s wrenching abysmal churn. A look at the tracklisting makes the structure clear:

1. Atra Mors (11:54)
2. Descent into Chaotic Dream (11:14)
3. A Tenebrous Vision (2:19)
4. Grim Eloquence (9:40)
5. An Extrinsic Divide (10:11)
6. Requies Aeterna (1:59)
7. The Unechoing Dread (9:47)
8. Into Aphotic Devastation (10:07)

Both of the interludes – “A Tenebrous Vision” and “Requies Aeterna” – are instrumental, ambient works that serve to further the bleak dreariness of the mood and bridge groups of longer cuts. Their effectiveness in this regard proves them all the more necessary. At a total 67 minutes, Atra Mors is encompassing on a level that, frankly, is surprising.

With extensive keyboard work from Don Zaros featured alongside Paradiso and Chris Molinari’s guitars, Evoken’s reveling in pomposity is writ large across Atra Mors, and whether it’s the strings on “Requies Aeterna” or the sustained ringing notes of the opening title-track, they’re responsible for much of the album’s melodic underpinning. While Paradiso keeps his vocals either to low, deathly growls or spoken word-type recitations, Zaros’ keys give the material a richness that adds complexity to the overarching darkness of the songs. He drops out periodically to enhance the drama – doing as much through silence as he does with his instrument – but there’s no question Atra Mors couldn’t be nearly as successful as it is in conveying its wretchedness without him. That’s not to say the guitars are entirely lacking melodic flourish, but in kind with David Wagner’s bass, they’re so entrenched in low end as to barely let light escape. The keys are understated at times, but their contrast to the rest of the music – and how well that contrast is ingrained in the overall sound of the album – is essential. That’s no less true as the drudgery of “Descent into Chaotic Dream” gives way after seven minutes in to a release in the tension of true death metal groove, complete with double-kick from Verkay and a head-down chug to match. As I said, even fast, Evoken sound slow, but they move between the death and the doom in their death/doom with marked fluidity, breaking suddenly at 8:50 to an open-spaced guitar line that leads back to the lumbering dirge of the song’s beginnings, which is topped with one of the album’s best and most emotionally visceral guitar solos – echoing tones playing out an ethereal blues that soon gives way to the no-less-mournful piano warble of “A Tenebrous Vision.” Either I’m imagining things (possible), or there’s an effect on there to make Zaros’ lines sound like they were recorded 100 years ago. It’s not fake crackle, but there’s something there, severe and older.

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Martyrdoom Festival to Make Brooklyn Debut in June

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 6th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

You know what’s more fun than adding the word “doom” to parts of other words? Nothing, that’s what. So when I saw the news that good people at BrooklynVegan, Catharsis PR and elsewhere are behind a new fest — and that they decided to call it Martyrdoom — well, the wordplay was just the icing on the extreme metal cake. Doomcake. There — I told you it was fun.

Here’s the info and poster for the fest, ripped from the headlines over at BrooklynVegan:

Signature Riff, BrooklynVegan, Order of the Serpent, and Catharsis PR are proud to announce the inaugural Martyrdoom fest! The two-stage Brooklyn metal extravaganza will feature exclusive area performances from Dead Congregation (Greece), Grave Miasma (United Kingdom) and Cruciamentum (United Kingdom), along with rare appearances from names like Sanguis Imperem (California), Kommandant (Illinois), Prosanctus Inferi (Ohio), Anu (North Carolina), Encoffination (Georgia/California), Father Befouled (Georgia/California), Perdition Temple (Florida), and Evoken (New Jersey), and will go down across two stages at Public Assembly on June 30th. Tickets are on sale NOW and will set you back $20 in advance and $27 at the door.

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audiObelisk: First Batch of Roadburn 2011 Streams Posted Online

Posted in audiObelisk on May 4th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Whether you were there or not, part of the Roadburn experience each year is reliving it (and hearing the bands you didn’t get to see) with the flood of live audio streams that always emerge after the festival is over. As with last year, the fest was kind enough to grant me permission to host the links to the streams where you can listen, so here’s the first bunch. Some killer sets here from Acid King, Naam, Stone Axe (I’d recommend starting there), Evoken, Hooded Menace et al. Hope you like it heavy.

Acid King – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703686#ondemand.44703686

Naam – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703729#ondemand.44703729

Trap Them – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703723#ondemand.44703723

Stone Axe – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703718#ondemand.44703718

Hooded Menace – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703708#ondemand.44703708

Coffins – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703693#ondemand.44703693

Evoken – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703697#ondemand.44703697

Grave Miasma – Live at Roadburn 2011
http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/ondemand/44703701#ondemand.44703701

Special thanks to Walter and Roadburn for the many kindnesses they’ve shown The Obelisk, this among them.

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Roadburn 2011 Adventure Pt. 7: Was it Illusion?

Posted in Features on April 16th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

7:26PM – Saturday – Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Caught the beginning of Evoken doing my beloved Garden State proud with their monstrously-paced death-doom, then decided to come back to the hotel for some respite, to empty out the camera, have another Palm Dobbel and regain consciousness. I don’t think I’ll have time to organize photos and put it online now, but I’ll get it written down, anyway, and post it later.

Since this series seems to have become as much a chronicle of my fucked up sleeping patterns as of Roadburn 2011, I’ll say I was barely conscious at 3:45PM this afternoon when Candlemass took the stage for the 25th anniversary show they were supposed to put on last year. I’d woken up only 55 minutes earlier, jumped in the shower and ran out of the hotel (well, okay, I walked quickly) to get to the main stage in time.

Well worth the effort. They started out with Robert Lowe on vocals and did a couple songs before bringing out Johan Lundquist to do the 1986 classic Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in its entirety. I’ve never seen Lundquist before, either on stage or on DVD – he might be on that 20th anniversary thing they put out a couple years ago, I can’t remember off the top of my head – but he fucking killed it. He wasn’t about to hit the super-high notes in “Solitude,” but he sounded great anyway, and had a stage presence that really helped pull off the drama in the material. Leif Edling looked proud, and rightly so.

They pulled in a decent bunch of people to start, but it was a long set at about two hours (they ended early of their appointed 135 minutes) and the crowd thinned out some by the end. Nonetheless, those who stuck around definitely appreciated what they were seeing, and I was among them, having stayed for the whole set to see Robert Lowe come back out for more songs, bring out Lundquist again and the two of them front a cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and Candlemass’ own “Darkness in Paradise” from Ancient Dreams. Lundquist and Lowe were both reading from a lyric cheat sheet, so there was a lot of dramatic pausing to look down – Ian Gillen tells a fantastic story about the tactic in an interview about his time touring with Black Sabbath for the Born Again album – but as they informed from the stage, Candlemass had never played the song live before, and it was something special just for Roadburn. The whole set pretty much felt that way.

Staying for their whole performance meant missing Black Math Horseman for the second year in a row, which is a bummer, as I was a fan of their Scott Reeder-produced album, Wyllt, but I had appropriate enough accompaniment for my sorrows in Candlemass’ classic doom. When they were finished, I shuffled over to the Green Room – or, once again, the hallway outside of it – to see a couple minutes of White Hills’ blown-out psych. They sounded pretty good, but I have the feeling a show of theirs in New York would be intolerable for the assholes it would draw. At Roadburn, everyone’s kind of on the same team. Team Weirdo.

Once finished with that, I grabbed some food in the catering tent. It’s easy to forget you’re hungry when you’re busy, and I’d gone downstairs for the hotel breakfast at about 8AM (obviously before falling back to sleep until almost three this afternoon), so I wasn’t starving, but I figured a couple beers were in my future – and I figured right, as it turns out – so eating was the right idea. I made it quick, though, to get back to the main stage in time to catch the start of Weedeater, which I was glad to see. Guitarist Dave “Shep” Shepherd showed no signs of lingering effects from his recently broken hand in his playing, and they as usual were in top form. Drunken shenanigans abounded and good times were had. I’d already seen them this touring cycle, but they still ruled.

Thinking rightly that Evoken would be crowded in the Green Room, I headed over there early to get a decent spot and watch them get going. The drummer from Winter, who it should be noted was in his skivvies by the end of their set last night, stood fully-clothed by the side of the stage to watch them as they set up, perhaps in a showing of underappreciated-East-Coast-death-doom solidarity. Maybe he was just lost trying to find the can. I’d like to think it’s the former.

Soon it’s back over to the Green Room for Ramesses (very much looking forward to their set), then Stone Axe in the Bat Cave if I can get in there and Shrinebuilder in the main stage if there’s time, Ufomammut playing all of Eve in the Midi Theatre, and Swans back at the 013. Going to be a busy night, a lot of moving around, but I’m feeling good despite the allergies, and this being the last night of Roadburn proper, I know it’ll be worth it when I’m reliving this in my head for the rest of this year. Note: This morning, I reserved a hotel room here for 2012. No regrets.

More pics after the jump. You know the drill by now.

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Evoken and Beneath the Frozen Soil Split CD: How Slow Can You Go?

Posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Some bands you just know are going to be unrelenting, and that’s certainly the case with long-running New Jersey mega-doomers Evoken. Their last outing saw them reissue their first demo in the form of Shades of Night Descending on Displeased Records, and now they follow that with four new tracks on a split with Swedish outfit Beneath the Frozen Soil on the I Hate imprint that also released their excellent 2007 full-length, A Caress of the Void. Beneath the Frozen Soil were also last heard from in terms of new material in ’07, when they released a split with Long Island, NY, sludgers Negative Reaction. Maybe they just have something for the East Coast, but either way, the pairing with Evoken makes more sense sonically, as Beneath the Frozen Soil are closer to them in sound and overall feel. What that means as regards listening is that the split is consistent in terms of flow, and if you’ve ever heard anything from either of these two bands, you already know the extremely oppressive nature of their output.

Evoken are positively volatile. Their six-piece lineup (which, near as I can tell, sometimes includes founding guitarist Nick Orlando and sometimes doesn’t) is brutally heavy and agonizingly slow, topped with the unearthly growls of guitarist John Paradiso, who only veers from the guttural to embark on the occasional echoed whisper (see the closing movement of “Omniscient”) or dramatic spoken part (“The Pleistocene Epoch”). If all of their albums weren’t over an hour long, I’d be tempted to call Evoken’s four-track contribution to the Beneath the Frozen Soil split full-length at over 42 minutes; in any case, they’re certainly not lacking in conveyance of aural hopelessness. Drummer/founder Vince Verkay makes the most of his nearly 20 years of experience in the band, easily taking on the task of grounding the 13-minute “The Pleistocene Epoch” – which would confound many – and knowing when to step back and give the guitars room, as on “Vestigial Fears.” Keyboardist Don Zaros provides some respite from the crushing sounds, but between the guitars (Chris Molinari makes three), Verkay’s morose pacing and the added thickness of Dave Wagner’s pace, Evoken are near-lethal in their miserable cohesion. They finish cold (of course) on “Vestigial Fears” and close their portion with “Into the Primal Shrine,” – their only cut under 10 minutes at 7:21 – which is instrumental but for a few non-verbal growls from Paradiso spread across the earlier moments.

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Where to Start: New Jersey

Posted in Where to Start on January 13th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

If all you know of my beloved Garden State is the smell of the Turnpike, Bruce Springsteen, guido stereotyping and the airport, you’re missing out. From the very beginning of stoner rock, New Jersey was right there making landmark contributions to the genre, and as the most crowded, most densely-populated state in the union, there’s always been a special brand of annoyed attitude that comes out of New Jerseyan bands that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s like the music is calling you out on your bullshit.

Of course I’m talking about the Red Bank scene, which is unquestionably the state’s biggest contribution to the canon of underground rock, but even that’s not the end to New Jersey‘s influence. As a lifelong resident and vehement defender of the state in the face of embarrassing reality shows and the rest of it, I humbly offer this list of NJ bands for anyone looking for a place to start in discovering the scene:

Monster Magnet: They’re quintessential stoner rock. Spine of God from 1992 is one of the most pivotal albums from the genre and if I didn’t mention them and it first, this entire list would be a sham. Tracks like “Zodiac Lung,” “Nod Scene” and “Spine of God” are absolute classics and unparalleled by either psych- or riff-obsessives.

Halfway to Gone: Their sound had no shortage of Southern influence, but the crunch they brought to it couldn’t have come from anywhere but the Northeast. 2002’s Second Season stripped down the songwriting from the first album and showed a meaner side.

The Atomic Bitchwax: Their 1999 self-titled gets a lot of play because it boasted Ed Mundell from Monster Magnet on guitar, but to me, the band really came into their own when Core‘s Finn Ryan replaced Mundell on 2005’s 3. Start with that, or if you’re craving Mundell, its predecessor from 2000, II.

Solace: I know I’ve said a lot about Solace lately, but that proves all the more why they need to be on this list too. Their first two albums, Further (2000) and 13 (2003) are killer, but 2010’s A.D. blows them out of the water. Best thing to come out of Jersey in a long time.

Evoken: Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum from all this guitar rock, Lyndhurst‘s Evoken make some of most grueling, most punishing funeral doom ever. Their earlier work had rough production, so I’d say start with 2007’s A Caress of the Void and work your way back. Slowly, of course.

For further reading: Various side-projects and offshoots of the above. Bands like A Thousand Knives of Fire, Core, Gallery of Mites, and so on. Also worth digging into are Lord Sterling (now defunct), abrasive duo Rukut, the righteous heaviness of Clamfight, A Day of Pigs, The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels, and many more.

If I forgot anyone or anyone wants to really go to bat for that first Bitchwax, leave a comment.

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