1. Far From God 2. Plasma Phantasma 3. Basic Black 4. Down Cold 5. Coma Burn 6. 2nd Last to Nowhere 7. Wavecell 8. Drowning Out the World 9. Tapes of their Voices
How the mighty have fallen. That statement could apply to original doom deathers like Paradise Lost, Amorphis, Lake Of Tears, and now Cemetary. Considered a key member of the original doom death movement, a genre that has slowly evolved into a million other streams, absorbing into the outer pools of black, death, and progressive, Cemetary has returned from a five year hiatus to bring us "Phantasma". But is this really Cemetary or simply a one man band using the band moniker? Well, let's look at history...
Sweden's Cemetary was originally formed by Mathias Lodmalm, signing to Black Mark in the early 90s and releasing classic gems like "Evil Shade Of Grey" and "Godless Beauty". Those two records combined with the likes of Amorphis and Paradise Lost helped to create an entire metal movement. In '94 the band really took a different road, adding in a bit of industrial Goth to their monumental "Black Vanity" effort. Following that with "Sundown" and then "Last Confession" turned Cemetary into a hybrid sort of band, picking up enough industrial and gothic overtones to become an entirely different organism from what existed in the early 90s. In '97 the band completely switched gears, becoming Sundown, a band that completely put metal on the back burner in a quest to reach for the sounds of Marilyn Manson, Ministry, and Nine Inch Nails.
Then in 2000 the group reached deep into their metal roots again, releasing a new record called "The Beast Divine" under the band name of Cemetary 1213. The album was influenced by the Swedish death metal scene and incorporated plenty of twin guitar melody and hard driving rhythm into their modern rock sound. For some reason the record went unnoticed and quickly vanished under the rug. Now, five years later Cemetary, note Cemetary, has opened their grave gates again for a new record on Black Mark. Does "Phantasma" find Lodmalm in metal company again? Will it pick up the same type of sound as the Cemetary 1213 project, or will this go back to the Sundown way of thought? Unfortunately "Phantasma" is a mere shell of what the original Cemetary sound was.
I'm not sure what happened with Lodmalm's thought pattern after "The Beast Divine". At that time I had really welcomed the return of the band, hoping for a quick follow-up album and a revolution in the modern death sound. That didn't happen and after five years I had almost forgot about "The Beast Divine" and Cemetary completely. Then I saw on Black Mark's site that "Phantasma" was ready to be unveiled and I was excited again. Until I heard the record. Wow, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse. After Lake Of Tears, Paradise Lost, and Tiamat threw away all of their denim and leather, Cemetary has gone one step further and threw away all of their guitar riffs.
From the opening track "Far From God" you know what to expect from the album. The cut begins a long process of song after song filled with industrial, modern metal. The few guitar chops that exist here are very low in the mix and drowned out with huge distortion. The album's song material is pretty much cookie cutter based. Each track consists of a slow drum program, Lodmalm's almost spoken passages through a voice box, and constant static and loops. The record to me would not be considered Maximum Metal material, but due to the nature of their previous releases is necessary to at least review to give warning and caution to potential buyers. So with that being said, buyer beware! This is much like the Sundown material, only this time around the band has drifted into more industrial confines.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details