Ebony Tears - _Evil as Hell_
(Black Sun, 2001)
by: David Rocher (
Ebony Tears' evolution is an intriguing one indeed. After their 1997 debut effort _Tortura Insomniae_ [CoC #30] saw them sharing the grounds with the ever-increasing plethora of prolific Gothenburg-tinged death metal acts such as In Flames, their second release, the cryptically-titled _A Handful of Nothing_ [CoC #42], saw Ebony Tears, by then reduced to vocalist Johnny Wranning and axeman Conny Johnson plus two session musicians, veer west towards the Bay Area's thrashing tones. The nice, melodic violin, which was pretty much a golden facade tentatively embellishing some rather tame riffing on _Tortura Insomniae_, was now only to be heard on the weird, squeaky track "Erised". And now, behold! Two years after _A Handful of Nothing_, Ebony Tears are back again, meaner than ever, and _Evil as Hell_ itself! The Swedes have obviously beaten their former violin player up with his instrument, thus getting rid of both these whimsical elements, leaving them free to concentrate on all-out, totally cathartic thrashing songwriting. While the now four distinctly tearless ebony thrashers don't actually display the same groundbreaking songwriting genius as Meshuggah on _Destroy, Erase, Improve_ or Fear Factory on _Demanufacture_, they prove to be remarkably effective when it boils down to dishing out a raucous mixture of thick, chunky rhythms and distinctly-not-nice, tortuous and aggressive material, which is somewhat reminiscent to me of a band such as Wicked World signees Corporation 187, or Wranning and Johnsson's former thrashcore project Dog Faced Gods. Although _Evil as Hell_ does suffer from a form of sameness syndrome in the long run (which, incidentally, can also be said about _Corporation 187's debut _Subliminal Fear_), the individual tracks are catchy as hell, and stand out enough to be both entertaining (the opener "Deviation" is guaranteed to get the virtuoso air-guitar meister in you riffing away) and memorable. All in all, despite some flaws in the "variety" department, this raging forty-minute chunk of meanness is well worth a listen, but fans of Gothenburg trademark melodies and aesthetic, violin-driven death metal should definitely proceed with caution! [Brian Meloon: "Ebony Tears have joined the ranks of the bands who had a great debut album and then went downhill into banal mediocrity. Imagine Darkane minus their melodic and interesting sections, and you have this album. Sure, this is a good album technically: it's got good playing, good production, blah blah blah, but underneath, it's a bunch of boring, uninspired crap."]
(article published 10/19/2001)
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