If you love compilation albums, this is one that will definitely be on your want list. And even if you think compilations are worthless, you'll think again upon reading this review.
This compilation is a two disc release that was given away to visitors at Nordic Fest 2003 to celebrate Endtime Productions' fifth birthday. Disc one of this release is still available from the Endtime Productions website, but disc two was deleted from the Endtime catalog after Nordic Fest. The label only made 300 copies of disc #2 and there are no more planned.
Disc #1 is basically a compilation that includes one song from each of the first nine Endtime releases. Extol shows up four times since they've released four different albums on Endtime. Other bands include Anaemia, Antestor, Lengsel, Vaakevandring, and Vardoger. The song selection is great, but most fans probably already have most of the releases. The way the label gets you to buy this nice album is that they only charge you about 5 dollars and they encase the CD in a beautiful digipak which includes some sweet artwork by Necrolord (who designed the Antestor Martyrium artwork among others).
Now disc #2 is the very special treat if you are fortunate enough to find a copy. Song #1 is a rough mix of a song off the upcoming Antestor full length. The song is called "Old Times Cruelty" and how sweet it is to finally here some new Antestor material after about 6 years of silence, coupled with a few re-releases. The song sounds like a mixture of ROTBD-era Antestor with dose of Vaakevandring, and a slight injection of Cradle of Filth and Crimson Moonlight. The Vaakevandring comparison is understandable due to some members of Vaakevandring now being in Antestor. So, if you are sad that Vaakevandring has called it a day, at least you get a little taste of them here. All in all, the track is a brutal black metal tune that incorporates acoustic guitar, chanting vocals, and deep clean vocals to go along with the insanity. The huge swells and building intensity just suck you in. This song just floors me the more I listen to it. Needless to say, I've been hitting the repeat button a lot hoping that the full length will come soon!
Song #2 is a newly recorded track from Anaemia called "Masquerade of Sin". The song is actually taken from their Spiritual Chaos demo sessions pre-dating The Second Incarnation. The song is better in my opinion than anything we heard on The Second Incarnation...not to mention just as heavy, if not heavier than anything on their previous album. Those who dismissed Anaemia in the past may want to take a second look at this talented band.
Song #3 is a song off of Absurd2's upcoming full length. The song is titled "Point of Insanity". It took me a long time to get into this band's song off of the In the Shadow of Death compilation. Now that I'm used to the band's cool style of technical thrash, this song was much easier to digest. A great taste of what is to come for sure! It does make one wonder though...if some of the guys in Extol get to be in this band and play technical thrash, why did Extol venture into thrash on Synergy? What was once an outlet in Absurd2 seems to be a close match to the current style of Extol. Maybe the guys just like thrash a lot. Hmm...whatever it is, I like this track!
Song #4 finds us with another new Vardoger tune. We just were blessed with a new EP by them and this new song "Almighty" graces this compilation. It actually comes from a demo session and it's easily as high a quality as the material they played on Whitefrozen. Excellent and emotional black metal song with great lyrics.
And to close things out, Extol shows up here with songs #5 and 6. The first track is "Vicious Intent" from the Northern Lights compilation that was released about 8 years ago. This is supposedly a different version of the song, although I'm not sure what the difference is. The last song is another unreleased Extol song that shows up nowhere else called "Screams". This song kicks booty, and I have a hard time figuring out why the band kept this song under wraps this long. Great death metal from the early Extol days.
Well, I gotta say that Endtime Productions has done it again. All metal fans should support the label by picking up disc one. And if you can find a copy of disc two on Ebay or somewhere else, it's definitely worth the effort and money. (Review by Matt)