convulseFour albums in twenty six years doesn’t seem a lot, but there was a twelve year gap and a step change between pure death metal and so-called “death n roll” between the first two. After more death metal purity on ”Evil Prevails” (2013), the Finnish band promise new elements in their death metal, suggesting there may be some psychedelic prog rock and groove elements in amongst it all.

The album starts with the title track. Deathly growls are superimposed on the languid progress. Then it strikes out and here the world of psychedelia and its colourful aspects are imposed upon us. From this we go to the mobile fantasy world of “God is You”. It’s over quickly. The pattern changes again as a djenty death romp ensues. I was struggling to know where I stood with all this. The guitar solos are immaculate, admittedly, and each passage is clearly defined but whilst it’s good and solid metal, all the elements don’t add up to a whole in my book. “Pangaea” stops suddenly without rhyme or reason, and a track called “Fractured Pieces”, which to some extent had summed my experience so far, begins with a tribal rhythm. It’s a bit downtrodden, and the injection of death metal didn’t have the power I would have expected. The drumming is lively but the groove line doesn’t go anywhere. “Nature of Humankind” takes down a doomy route before branching off into thrashy death territory. Unlike some, I don’t pine for the band’s pure death metal days, but there’s so much more meat and energy when Convulse start from the position of aggression than in their hybrid tracks. Even “Nature of Humankind” branches off into a sort of rampant melo-death and before branching out into a series of groove lines without apparent continuity. The belligerent “Ever Flowing Stream” was like a harsh version of a Sentenced song – another variation on an album of ever-increasingly mystifying content. At least “War” maintained its momentum with a raunchy metal style throughout but this time with a neatly interwoven progressive death section, which had an element of Opeth. “War” was for me the best track on the album. Unfortunately the repressed “Into the Void” followed it to bring the album to a close. The groove line is just repeated and whilst “ok”, there was just no excitement as the album just fizzled out.

This didn’t work for me. Convulse are a good death metal band but the sense of direction and purpose was lacking for me when other styles were introduced. There was little blend or coherence. “Cycle of Revenge” lacked sharpness.

(5.5/10 Andrew Doherty)