Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Excavation - Dutch death metal bloodbath

EXCAVATION - Biography and reviews
If someone will ever talk about the best death metal scenes in the world he will probably mention the American and Swedish ones first of all. Then he may say something about the old British or Polish bands… but there’s one country that mustn’t ever be forgotten! I’m talking about the mighty Dutch scene, relatively small country, which spawned such amazing bands as PESTILENCE, ASPHYX, THANATOS, SINISTER, GOREFEST, GOD DETHRONED, BEYOND BELIEF and probably few more I’ve forgotten now. All these bands have been excellent and once and for all putted Holland on the death metal map. Of course along with such big names came also many less known acts, bands like BURIAL or DELIRIUM, whose full lengths didn’t get a deserved success plus many other bands, which have been releasing demo tapes and hoped to get recognition and deal with a good label, but sadly never have got it. EXCAVATION surely was one of the best demo bands from Holland in the beginning of the 90’s. Although the discography of EXCAVATION consists of only one demo and EP, both these recordings proved that the Americans haven’t had the licence to kill with death metal for themselves! EXCAVATION – which is a term for the exposure, processing and recording of archaeological remains – was formed in 1990 in Urmond. In the beginnings the band was a four piece: Menno Corbeek – Vocals, Siem (G. Simons) – Guitar, Henri Nenen – Guitar and Angelo Pibiri – Drums. In 1991 this line up entered KLANK Studio to record six songs for a debut demo titled “Gravemouth” (the demo was recorded without a bass). The SUFFOCATION / MASSACRE styled death metal the band performed got them good response and even an interest from such underground labels as CARNAGE Records or PUTREFACTION Records. But none of these offers were what the band aimed for, as they rather wanted LP! To make even stronger impulse on the labels EXCAVATION agreed to release a 7”EP for ADIPOCERE Records. “Psychotic Possession” single was recorded with a help of session bassist, René Rox (from Belgian thrash metal band called CHEMICAL BREATH – great “Fatal Exposure” album from 1992!), again at KLANK Studio between the 25-26 April 1992. Although the EP was terribly promoted, EXCAVATION managed to get interest and recognition and again some offers for the album – from such labels like LETHAL, TOMBSTONE…  The band started to write new material, also played few gigs, with bands like SAMAEL, CHEMICAL BREATH, GOREFEST, OBSTRUNCTION. But then something strange happened… As happened to many other promising bands at that time, for some reason (unknown to me!) EXCAVATION split up. First they changed the name to BEYOND and recorded another demo called “Promo 1994” with four new songs but then everything went quiet. I can only guess that the sudden lost of interest in death metal that happened during the middle 90’s could have been a major reason for it. Anyway, EXCAVATION / BEYOND ceased to exist and to my knowledge none of its members carried on in another bands. What a shame!

Gravemouth (demo 1991)
Recorded: Recorded at KLANK Studio. Produced & Mixed by Gert-Jan / EXCAVATION. Intro by F. Faber. Logo, Layout, Music & Lyrics by G. Simons.
Recording line up: Menno Corbeek – Vocals, Siem (G. Simons) – Guitar, Henri Nenen – Guitar and Angelo Pibiri – Drums
Anyone there who may fancy a classic American styled old school death fuckin metal from the early 90’s? Here’s something for you then… but be aware that EXCAVATION is from damn Holland, not USA ha, ha! It doesn’t matter of course where the band is from, as long as the music is fine… besides, Holland always had some of the best death metal underground bands in history! So, quality was almost certain here! "Gravemouth” demo was recorded in 1991 and production wise it surely lacks a bit of professionalism. It has typical harsh demo sound, far from polished and nice; it will make your ears bleed and head could explode, but you’ll like it and even ask for more. What else can you do, if you’re dealing with such a piece of rotten underground jewel? Personally I love the production of “Gravemouth”, so I cannot say anything bad about it – it’s just as death metal demo should be like. As for the music, well I already said that this is American styled death metal… Many riffs, also guitar sound and few other things, like some vocal parts remind me the mighty MASSACRE from their demos and the cult first album, just listen to the song titled “Damnation” and you’ll get my point! These riffs are just slashing and ripping through the ears without mercy and think of “From Beyond” as the close comparison (but also ASPHYX, as the crushing, slow beginning of this song reminds me of these Dutch masters totally!!!)! Of course no way is ever EXCAVATION going to be so great as MASSACRE – it’s not the same league – but still it’s more than just a decent listening, with catchy, moshable parts throughout the song. Definitely this is the highlight of entire demo. But there are also songs on the demo – or maybe just their parts – which are less convincing, like “Pray For Death” track, which I find as pretty average, and which has pretty annoying intro – probably from C-class gore movie ha, ha. The song is pretty fast in some fragments, grinding with an axe, but I rather prefer slower tempos, like the beginning of “Excavation”, which starts again like a good old ASPHYX from “The Rack” masterpiece. Unfortunately this soon changes into more SUFFOCATION-esque grinding, which is a shame, because it would be cool to get one massively slow, heavy track! “Dream Escape” could easily find its place on any of the early SUFFOCATION releases, while the title song is something quite unique, as it is almost 10 minutes long – what hardly any death metal band ever dared to do. The song itself isn’t discovering anything; it’s just plain, simple death metal, played mostly in mid paced tempos, but I have to say I quite like it and it doesn’t really feel like it’s that long. I guess it's one of the best parts of "Gravemouth"! But as overall, this EXCAVATION debut demo sounds totally fine to me… As I said earlier there may be some parts, which are a bit chaotic and not as good as others, but I can live with it.
Best song: “Damnation”, “Excavation”
Final rate: 70/100
Psychotic Possession (EP 1992 – ADIPOCERE Records)
Recorded: Recorded & mixed at the KLANK Studio on 25-26 April 1992. Produced by Gert-Jan / EXCAVATION.
Recording line up: MennoCorbeek – Vocals, Siem (G. Simons) – Guitar, Henri Nenen – Guitar and Angelo Pibiri – Drums, René Rox (session bass)
This EP turned out to be quite big surprise, when I heard it for the first time. The band was completely unknown to me then – it probably still is, as the amount of the information about EXCAVATION I have isn’t that big. Anyway, after the pretty good “Gravemouth” demo from 1991 these Dutch guys entered the KLANK Studio and did this 7”EP – hoping to get the dreamed contract for a full length (for which they already got few offers after the demo was released and before doing this single!). First things first though – I just love this old school, gory type of covers “Psychotic Possession” also have. Zombies feeding on other corpses – how lovely it is! The back covers shows five guys in typical death metal poses, but that’s also something I like a lot. Death metal t-shirts, leather jackets… Fuck yeah; maintain the tradition! Music wise, if I compare “Psychotic Possession” to “Gravemouth” demo I have to say that EXCAVATION has changed quite much. For some reasons (natural development??) the music on this EP seems to me to be less brutal, definitely not so grinding fast anymore and surprisingly brings more technical approach, that is dangerously close to thrash metal!!!! Yeah! When the intro silences and first riffs / vocals appear it becomes clear that the band went completely different path than I expected. If you think of such albums as “Beyond the Unknown” by INCUBUS or “Choir of Horrors” by MESSIAH, these may be some points of reference for you… Maybe also the early REVENANT, from their two EPs and especially Dutch BURIAL... It’s similar type of technical thrashing death metal, still very aggressive and brutal, but just more sophisticated that the gory style of SUFFOCATION / MASSACRE you could have heard on the first demo. Even the vocals of Menno Corbeek are different, not so harsh and guttural, but more like a cross between growling and screaming – again pretty much typical for the thrash / death bands. Other thing is that this guy did excellent job and his vocal parts are really cool on this EP – especially in the second track, when we spits out the words fast like a lunatic. Of the two songs that “Psychotic Possession” has, “The Prophecy” stands out as the one, which is much faster and unrelenting, surprisingly it really reminds me of another Dutch band, called BURIAL, whose demo and “Relinquished Souls” album are real forgotten jewels. The title song is pretty technical and almost melodic in few parts, but still very aggressive and harsh. The production is surely better here than it was on the first demo, but it’s not too polished either; actually it just sounds like a well recorded demo, with dynamic production and all instruments well audible (great bass work here!). Honestly there isn’t much more to write about this EP – it’s just about 10 minutes short and doesn’t really bring anything you haven’t heard before, but the music of EXCAVATION is solid and entertaining, so I can honestly recommend it to everyone, who enjoys good old death metal.
Best song: “Psychotic Possession”
Final rate: 75/100

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