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God Macabre - The Winterlong Review

by Matt Hensch

Any death metal artisan worth his or her salt knows Sweden's death metal sphere spewed forth some of the finest albums the genre has ever released; it should be common knowledge by this point. Among the classic legacies and triumphs of At The Gates, Grave, Entombed, Dismember, Necrophobic et al. rests a plethora of forgotten fossils lost in the deluge of time. God Macabre's "The Winterlong," the band's first and only record released in 1993, though largely forgotten, maintained its status as a lost gem among the other widely-acclaimed opuses that overshadowed it. The short but sweet legacy of God Macabre tastes fresh and valid many years after its birth, even rivaling the grander outputs of several of its stylistic siblings in grades of texture and design. It is a stunning, stunning piece of death metal; complex and varied, yet unyielding and intricate.

God Macabre specifically manifests itself here in an aesthetic sphere very much similar to the works of many of the band's aforementioned cohorts. "The Winterlong" stands out due to the integrity of the group's primitive, explosive style that hits homerun after homerun while expanding the notional themes of this style of death metal resourcefully. Many of the riffs strike chords similar to other guitar sequences of the time; the straightforward blasts of breakneck arrangements dripping with the remnants of melodic surfaces and blitzing lashings and beats corresponding to the works of Discharge. What makes the record stand out is the sense of integrity and richness within God Macabre's assault, as the anthems are clever and unforgettably inspiring slabs of ruthless and catchy death metal stuffed with wonderful riffs and a raw, unbeatable sense of concentration while maintaining brutality and hot-bloodedness.

Yet the record incorporates mild traits and themes that greatly enrich the consistency of God Macabre's design. "The Winterlong" boasts slow, melancholic passages within the gloomy atmosphere that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Amorphis release and mellotron sections that add atmospheric depth to the band's many masks. God Macabre's style is clearly extraordinary, one that naturally sways from excellent riffs to memorable choruses and despondent harmonies-perfect examples include "Ashes of Mourning Life" and "Into Nowhere." The growling vocals and performances are equally energetic and enticing; God Macabre sounds raw and animated, cooked in an authentic sound quality customary of the legendary work of Sunlight Studio.

"The Winterlong" itself exists as an axiomatic echo of God Macabre's undersized existence, an affair that lasts for just under twenty-eight minutes. In 2014, Relapse Records unearthed the piece with a bonus track, "Life's Verge," and "Consumed by Darkness," an EP released by a former incarnation of God Macabre in 1991. Both add-ons-the unreleased track and the three anthems from the EP-are absolutely wonderful and unique, and further augment one of Sweden's finest forgotten gems. It's an essential piece of death metal history for enthusiasts hunting for the great classics of a bygone era and another guaranteed snapshot of the superiority of one of the most astonishing metal scenes to ever grace the world.

God Macabre - The Winterlong


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