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Exhumation - Seas of Eternal Silence (Reissue) Award winner

Seas of Eternal Silence (Reissue)
by Sean McGuirk at 04 July 2019, 7:14 PM

Greece’s EXHUMATION released their seminal album, “Seas of Eternal Silence, in 1997, during a formative and wildly experimental period for Death Metal.  There was a melodic offshoot of the traditional Swedish Death Metal sound coming to life in bands like AT THE GATES, IN FLAMES and DARK TRANQUILLITY.  There was also a Doomy gothic aesthetic that was happening with bands such as KATATONIA, ANATHEMA and PARADISE LOST“Seas of Eternal Silence” is an interesting mixture of both of those movements, and one that deserves another visit (or for many, a first) via the re-release it’s getting through Vic Records.

The band released a few demos in the early 1990s before being signed to a contract with Denmark’s Diehard Records, which saw them recording “Seas” with musician/producer extraordinaire Dan Swanö, who himself was pushing the limits of Death Metal in EDGE OF SANITY, and more avant-garde projects like the Goth Rock NIGHTINGALE and the depressive Doom project PAN-THY-MONIUM. Swanö’s experimental influence can be heard in the brilliant use of keyboard textures, performed by Thomas Bairachtaris, that add a gothic feel and an airy spectral quality that balances out the record’s pure heaviness. And even when the band is at their heaviest, they still retain a sense of melody. The title track is an astonishing composition that balances all these elements effectively and feels like a complete story. Panos Giatzoglou’s buzzing maelstrom of riffs absolutely bite through the mix, while drummer Pantelis Athanasiadis features some organic blasts and tasteful double-kick rhythms that add character and don’t overpower.

“Dreamy Recollection,” has a number of shades, from the harsh traditional Death verse, to a Symphonic Black Metal chorus and a proggy clean guitar-laden interlude. Vocalist John Nokteridis truly connects with the listener with an impassioned delivery that makes every song sound epic.  His shouts on “Forgotten Days” are desperate and truly mesmerizing.  The raw production, and DIY sound to the keyboards, like on the intro to “Passing Suns,” truly puts this record in a distinct time and place for metal, one that is now highly regarded among metal aficionados. “Ceasless Sorrow” as a kind of upbeat melodic lead that feels modern for its time, while “Guilts of Innocence” is perhaps the most traditional Death Metal song on the disc. “Monuments” closes the set with a riveting instrumental summary of the album’s themes.

After recording with Swanö, the band moved into a more traditional Gothenburg sound, recording with one of the most important figures in that scene, Fredrik Nordström (AT THE GATES, IN FLAMES).  After disbanding in 2000, Marios Iliopoulos, founding member and lead guitarist for the group, spun off the band into NIGHTRAGE, a popular Melo-Death band that is still around today. Both bands have accounted for an impressive body of work, but nothing would compare to “Seas” as far as its unique sound and explorative mindset, possibly due to Swanö’s influence or perhaps the time and place in which it was recorded.

Many bands would adopt the Gothenburg sound as their own calling card in the years since, but fewer can say that they had a hand in creating it.  In that way, this record, and EXHUMATION as a band, will always live on.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Seas Of Eternal Silence
2. Dreamy Recollection
3. Beyond The Eyes Of Universe
4. Forgotten Days
5. Passing Suns
6. Ceaseless Sorrow
7. Guilts Of Innocence
8. Monuments
Marios Iliopoulos – Lead Guitar
Pantelis Athanasiadis - Drums
John Nokteridis - Bass/Vocals
Panos Giatzoglou – Rhythm Guitar
Thomas Bairachtaris - Keyboards
Record Label: Vic Records


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