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Passage Of Life
(Konqueror Records)

EXCRUCIATE... This name rings a bell. Didn't this band release a split LP with EPITAPH in the age of dinosaurs? Yes, they did! It was 1991, the old and glorious days of Swedish Death Metal, when you could still catch the gold-rush mood with your hands. Infest Records released this split LP, that featured the latest demos of these bands then, before Thrash Records took charge for both bands. While EPITAPH blew up at least a little dust with their only album "Seeming Salvation", "Passage Of Life" from EXCRUCIATE got buried by time and dust too soon, maybe due to their disbanding as well. But the band members refused to be forgotten, since they play or played in bands like MYKORRHIZA, EGYPT, MASTICATION or GODHATE. Bass player Frederik is the most well known of the guys from EXCRUCIATE for sure, since he later played in THERION (before they became an all too serious orchestra) and later in GRAVE. Maybe that is a reason why the EXCRUCIATE recordings were re-released several times, be it as a compilation of their whole discography ("Beyond The Circle" from 2003) or as a splendid double vinyl with the complete demo recordings on The Crypt. The "Passage Of Life" album was re-released once as a vinyl edition either, also on The Crypt. Now Konqueror Records re-issued the album on CD as well. Listening to it two whole decades after it was unleashed upon mankind, it is hard to understand why "Passage Of Life" didn't receive the attention it deserved in 1993. Maybe it's because EXCRUCIATE were "too late", or it is the fact that they weren't too different from other Swedish Death Metal acts, or Thrash Records was too underground back then. Anyway, this album should have satisfied the needs of every Death Metal maniac. It is raw, brutal but not too simple, since EXCRUCIATE, alike early THERION or CARBONIZED for example, knew how to place breaks, tempo changes and doomy passages where they belong. Songs like the more creeping opener 'Confused Mind' or the more forward driving, yet twisted 'Endless Suffocation' feature all that and more: a profound understanding of how Death Metal should have been back then and should still be nowadays. Even though you hear the age of the album every now and then, it is a timeless piece of history every fan of Swedish Death should have heard. If you want to dig another hidden gem of Death Metal history, check out:

Thomas Meyer

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