I thought I had a decent grasp on the year 1992, at least from a metal perspective. Relapse will prove me wrong in January when they re-issue World Without God, a classic pile of death metal from Finland's Convulse. I've never heard of Convulse, but after listening to this thing, there's no doubt it needs to be a part of my CD collection.
WWG is a fascinating album. It's no missing link in the history of death metal, but it is an interesting sign of its times. The album combines recognizable and iconic genre methodologies in a fairly unique way. Convulse are disconnected from the Swedish death metal movement in sound but not in spirit. Despite being contiguous to Sweden, Finland's imprint on the history of death metal would come much later, mostly in the form of folk influences and the wild noodling of Alexi Laiho.
“Introduction” kicks off the album with keys and synths that mix foreboding with cheese. This frightening bit of melody has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the album, thankfully. The title track introduces us to the genetic mutant we're about to encounter. The first thing to notice is the lack of Sunlight sound. The lumbering and downtuned riff that starts things off bears resemblance to Blessed Are the Sick era Morbid Angel more than anything else. This same riff, however, gets the speed treatment with an unmuted, open handed strumming that instantly brings to mind Left Hand Path. Later on, things slow down and we get a slimy, doomier riff that makes me think of early My Dying Bride. Sound interesting yet? It gets better. At the end of the song, the thing slides into a fantastic stuttering beat and rips into a riff that sounds straight out of Carcass' Necroticism.
One of the most impressive aspects of the album is the production. To my ears, it surpasses the clarity that Morbid Angel and Entombed had at that time. The re-mastering job on the album is pretty decent, and it doesn't push things too far. The distortion on the guitars sounds surprisingly modern. The riffs on WWG aren't terribly complicated or diverse, but they get the job done and are quite entertaining. My favorite parts are the doomier interludes and the grindier bits. As the album progresses, we hear more and more of the Carcass influence.
The vocals are quite guttural. They sound like a deeper take on David Vincent's vocal style. The lyrics, for the most part, are a righteous screed against organized religion. I can dig that. Two of the tracks, however, deal with gorier topics. “Putrid Intercourse” is an absurd story about some graveyard lovin', and “Incantation of Restoration” follows suit.
The drums sound great and even brilliant at times. There are several ball-busting bass lines that propel the songs à la “Ruptured in Purulence.” As would be expected, there are also several classical guitar interludes to remind you that these guys know their way around a fretboard. “Powerstruggle of Belief” starts out with just such a composition before whipping up a metal storm.
Seeing how this is a re-issue, we also get the Resuscitation of Evilness demo tacked on the end of the album. These early versions of the songs don't really add much to the experience. They do, however, show that Convulse had hatched their death metal sound as early as 1990. The cover of Venom's “Countess Bathory” is a sloppy but entertaining mess, with production much worse than the rest of the demo. The live version of “Incantation of Restoration” sounds like a gore-soaked remnant of Reek of Putrefaction.
Look, I've got to be honest; WWG never achieves the iconic nature of the classic albums I've thus-far mentioned. But it's pretty goddamned good. If you're stoked about the resurgence of OSDM, you should check out this worthy example of some actual old-school death metal. It's the real deal.
Full disclosure: Relapse provided me with a promo stream.