EPITAPH - Seeming Salvation (THRASH Records - LP 1992)
Swedish death metal! Is there anything better than that? I think not! I love this music, I love this sound and always preferred the Scandinavian bands over American death metal for instance (with few exceptions obviously!). And Epitaph was one of my favourites back in the early 90’s! Of course I liked Dismember, Grave, Desultory, Entombed or Necrophobic the most, but at some point I also bought (blindly, without knowing anything about those bands, but I loved the artwork haha) licensed cassettes with such albums like “Passage of Life” and “Seeming Salvation” – both on Loud Out Records – and for me these smaller and lesser known bands were just as great as the big names everyone knew. They were both clicking all the right boxes about “what I like in the Swedish death metal”, and more so, there was also this feeling of satisfaction that I got two bands, which none of my friends knew about, so I could brag about finding new death metal killers haha! Anyways, it’s now over 20 years later and I still come back to these albums quite often. I have that original LP of “Seeming Salvation”, released on Thrash Records, which I bough around 2005 for quite small price – and laugh seeing how much people want to pay these days not only for the original CD or LP, but even for the repress CD. It is just hilarious! I am not even sure, if this album is worth so much? Probably not, because let’s be honest – it’s great record, but nothing really special or groundbreaking for the Swedish death metal in general. It’s not “Left Hand Path” or “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”, if you know what I mean. Epitaph were just adopting to what other Swedish bands already created. Sure, they had a great demo “Disorientation” from 1991 (also released on the split LP with Excruciate) and this full length is also killer, but in the scale of the entire scene, they were just as common and typical as most of the other bands. There was nothing what would really differ Epitaph from the likes of Cemetary, Mastication, Excruciate and so on. Which is nothing wrong, as now we all love these bands even more than we did twenty years ago haha!
So, let’s see what is this album like. One thing, which I think did not survive the test of time is the production of “Seeming Salvation”. I think this is one of the weakest Sunlight Studios recorded albums. The sound is quite clean, maybe too clean, the guitars are thin as fuck and just not aggressive at all. Of course Epitaph had that characteristic guitar tone, which most of the Sunlight bands had, but these guitars are not heavy enough and not so downtuned as on the demo or as most of the other Swedish bands tuned. For example it doesn’t sound as aggressive as “Passage of Life”, which was recorded in similar time.
But I have to admit that I love “Seeming Salvation” despite all its drawbacks. Musically, this is just a killer record, from start to finish it offers great melodic, atmospheric death metal songs and even though I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times, it still doesn’t bore me at all. Epitaph had good skills to come up with great, memorable songs and infectious melodies that shall stick in your head for good, but at the same time you will bang your head like crazy, because this is still a ravaging death metal. Yes, melodic stuff, but Epitaph was not forgetting about having many killer, vicious parts and incorporated even some blasts here and there, so it’s very diverse material. It begins with “Chastity”, which is sort of doomy intro with spoken words. It smoothly transforms into the title song, which is a classic stuff, comparable to Cemetary, Desultory, Gorement or Excruciate. It is all midpaced, with great guitar work on the harmonious riffs, also with nice melodic leads, but still keeping that aggressive side intact. Meanwhile the next song “Prey to Dismay” belongs to the most noticeable as well as diverse pieces, as you have there some blasts in the opening part, which suddenly changes into a slow, doomy and melodic theme. And again there’s this great guitar solo and even a nice acoustic piece in the middle… This song has just everything what I like about Swedish death metal, so yeah, for me it’s one of the best songs on the album. If you like more aggressive stuff, then I recommend you track called “The Twisted Grace”. It’s damn killer song, with few faster parts, but again with a necessary dose of harmonic riffs here and there. Or “Self Inflicted”, which is also very obscure and brutal. These two are definitely the most aggressive tracks here.
Obviously I can mention more songs and each would have something characteristic about them; there are some, which are more focused on the aggressive death metal, some other are more doomy and melodic… but the whole album is just a very good listen. “Seeming Salvation” may have its drawbacks, but when speaking of the songwriting, it’s very proper and well composed album. All songs are killer, in my opinion, even if quite predictable and typical, but maybe Epitaph just picked up all the best ingredients of killer Swedish death metal and glued them together?? So, it’s great, classic album for me and for sure it’s in my top then of Swedish death metal of all time.
Standout tracks: “Prey to Dismay”, “Seeming Salvation”, “The Twisted Grace”
Final rate: 85/100