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Review: Convulse - Deathstar

Label: Transcending Records
Year released: 2020
Duration: 40:52
Tracks: 9
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: August 25, 2020
Reviewed by: Luxi Lahtinen
Readers Rating

Rated 4.43/5 (88.57%) (7 Votes)

Convulse are among the most important Death Metal bands to come from Finland, and yet they never really got to capitalize very much on that legacy. Among the likes of Sentenced, Demigod, and Amorphis, they pretty much invented what we know as Finnish Death Metal in the '90s, and with their much revered debut, World Without God, they practically put Finland on the map in the Metal underground. Sadly, that initial wave was a short-lived one, and all the bands that were in it either faded away or drastically changed their sound. Convulse opted for the latter with their follow-up Reflections, which implemented more progressive and death rock elements to their sound, but despite its quality, it wasn't well received by fans and the band folded shortly after. Around 18 years later, they reformed and released Evil Prevails and Cycle of Revenge during their second run, the former of which was a return to their roots that garnered some positive attention and the latter an attempt to revisit the soundscapes of Reflections that was once again dismissed by fans and nearly ended their story for good.

This brings us to their upcoming fifth album Deathstar, available October 30th of this year courtesy of U.S. label Transcending Records. Rather than cycle back to aping World Without God again, the band has decided to forge ahead with the more progressive aspects of Reflections and Cycle of Revenge, further refining them and mixing in their Death Metal roots to create the most iconoclastic album of their careers, and perhaps their best one to date.

Opener "Extreme Dark Light" sets the tone for the rest of the album with its crunchy rhythms and hypnotic atmosphere, and from there it's almost evenly split between rocking, deathy tracks like "We Sold Our Souls for Rock'n'Roll" and "Make Humanica Great Again", stranger numbers like the schlager-influenced "Chernobyl" and the melodic title track, which borrows the few good ideas from Sepultura's later works and actually does something worthwhile with them, and the proggier numbers like the melancholic "Whirlwind", the moody and complex "Light My Day", and the gorgeous album highlight "The Summoning", which may be the best damn song they ever wrote. There's a surprising amount of influences going on all over this record, and it may be too left-field for a lot of people to consider purely Metal, but every song on here is riddled with deceptively intricate songwriting and clever musicianship that'll have your head nodding along in no time. None of this would fly if the band had gotten sloppy over the years, but they're tight and proficient players that are clearly putting their decades of experience to good use, and Rami sounds awesome with his trademark grunting occasionally mixed in with soft, almost spoken-styled singing.

There are people that'll never accept anything Convulse has done after their debut, and if you're one of those people, this probably won't be for you. For anyone else, this is a catchy, complex, and occasionally mystifying record from the first notes of "Extreme Dark Light" to the closing acoustics of "The End", and you'll be finding yourself hitting the play button again several times over. An excellent album from one of Finland's finest.

Other related information on the site
Interview with vocalist and guitarist Rämi Jämsä on March 5, 2016 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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