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~reviewed by Matthew
Where as bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Thorns Of The Carrion, and the like are submerged beneath the currents of literal Romanticism and are prone to portray beauty through an admirable sympathetic tragedy, one band in particular take cues from the motifs of Naturalism. Within such art, the uncaring aspects of nature are stressed and celebrated in a nihilistic yet reluctant misanthropy.  There is no god, no hope, no choices as death is an inevitability, perched at the edge of life, knowing it impossible for humanity to escape from its patient grasp.  Such a psychology of fear and impending doom is brilliantly expressed through the music of Evoken, a supremely underrated cult act from New Jersey.
Baring the funereal dirges of Skepticism, I doubt there is a band on this planet as emotionally devastating and abysmally dark as Evoken.  With one 1994 EP and a single full-length entitled Embrace The Emptiness under their belts, this band has quickly established a tight following of loyal fans in the darkest corners of the doom and gothic metal genres.  Though having such an intense and awe-inspiring sound, it is truly a shame that this band hasn’t acquired a worldwide fan base.  Dark music fans need to hear this! Evoken do not compromise their sound.  They are definitely one of the most genuine doom metal acts active today, as they do not even hint of conforming to trends and are proudly barren of any token technical frippery, instead opting for a desolate simplicity that only makes the music twice as overwhelming.   What more, where most bands present a beautiful melancholy, Evoken are genuinely creepy, each track harbouring the potential to elicit delicious yet sometimes even uncomfortable chills down the spine.
Perhaps Evoken remain rooted in the darker caverns of doom because their music is so genuine that it is just too much for the casual listener.  With their second full-length release, they boast a sound that is uncanny, disturbing, and downright crushing!  Walls of impenetrable guitars ring out atop plodding, thunderous drums, while watery guitar leads slither in and out of the frightfully detuned power chords and eerie twin harmonies.  At the surface, a smooth, guttural growl churns and lurches above.  These vocals are monstrous, some of the deepest and darkest sounds I have ever heard emitted from a human body.  Mind you, it’s not abrasive or grating like other death/black/grindcore vocals, the depth and rumble of the voice blends perfectly with the hellish music, so that even the staunchest of vocal critics will not be irritated or provoked.  The guttural vocals serve as another instrument, interrupted only by the occasional clean whispers or spoken lethargic wallow.  Lyrically, Evoken opt for descriptive scenes, elusive imagery, and avoid the trappings of common poetic devices, therefore perfectly complimenting such a vast sound.
Though Evoken openly use keyboard orchestration and also occasionally employ the brooding of a session cellist, they utilize these symphonic elements with such taste, grace, and caution, never once giving into the tendency of pompous overkill as other bands have done (to the dismay of some, to my pretentious delight).  The misty keys fill out the all-ready thick sound to an encompassing degree, injecting subtle echoing piano tones but never too much to disrupt the sweeping currents of black guitar.  The cello appears very subtly to flesh out a masterful melodic bridge on the epic opening track “In Pestilence, Burning” but reappears only toward the end of the album. With such a tormenting and bottomless sound, the dark drone of a cello is a perfect compliment to the band’s sound and rather than dominating the atmosphere, it simply accents it to create a holistic mood.   The production of the CD is incredible, presenting a crisp sharpness, an impressive clarity for this style of music and finally, a lovely cavernous reverb drenches the entire album in a ghostly warmth.
Evoken are a gifted group of musicians, simply unrivaled with their crafting and mastery of such depressive music.  Whatever it is that brings them to this place, to reach into the depths of human misery and procure these melodies, I bestow my regards and consolation for returning from such a place alive.  If indeed Evoken were kissed by the touch of Romanticism, they could not produce music so stark.  It requires a strong mind and strong will to sink here, but this music is a score for escape, a compliment to the darkness and restlessness in all of us.  Rather than reveling and crying with a bleeding poet’s heart of such sadness, Evoken present a jaded detachment from the world that enables them to rise above and shape the despair to create their art, rather than allow such pain to manipulate them. Evoken are storytellers, and never was there a tale so dark and so 
frightfully haunting.

Track List:
1.) In Pestilence, Burning
2.) Withering Indignation
3.) Tending The Dire Hatred
4.) Where Ghosts Fall Silent
5.) Quietus
6.) Embrace The Emptiness
7.) Atrementous Journey

Evoken is:
John Paradiso – guitars, vocals, chants
Nick Orlando – guitars
Steve Moran – bass
Vince Verkay – drums
Dario Derna – keyboards

Official Site:

Evoken Mp3 Site:

Dwell Records:

AvantGarde Records: