Vital Decision – Vital Decision

Vital Decision
Vital Decision
1998 (no label)
Jönköping, Sweden

Simon Rosén – Guitar, black vocals
Johan Ylenstrand – Guitar, death vocals
Daniel Hermansson – Bass, synth, guitar on “Preludium”
David Johansson – Drums

Fredrik – Bass on “Calling Your Name”

  1. Preludium
  2. The Dead Will Leave Their Graves
  3. Live Forever
  4. Persecution Until the Day of Victory
  5. Calling Your Name

Highly polished teen pop from Sweden! Just kidding. This is obviously extreme metal – mixing some black metal with a lot of death metal. Something in the water in the northern end of Europe must be infecting a lot of people with the extreme metal bug. I have been to Sweden, but I unfortunately did not catch it. I’m not an expert on this style of music, but I like it when it is done well, and I enjoyed this tape. It seems there are some better riffs here than you typically find in death metal. Johan and Simon were also in Crimson Moonlight at this time.

Jeremiah’s Grotto – Afraid EP

Jeremiah’s Grotto
Afraid EP
1998 (no label)
Gainsville, Florida, USA

Chris Siegle – Vocals, guitar
Brian Gray – Guitar
Dan Gray – Bass
Jonathan Farnell – Drums

  1. 5
  2. 20/20
  3. Raining Small Colors
  4. One Second of Grace
  5. Lost Impurity
  6. Afraid

So this appears to be a rare demo by Jeremiah’s Grotto, but it turns out this has 6 songs from the full-length Raining Small Colors demo. To my ears, it sounds like they are even the same versions as the songs on the full-length. But this demo says the songs were recorded in February of 1998, while the full length was recorded in June 1998. So I am not sure if they just forget these songs were recorded earlier, or if they were just able to pull off near identical recordings a few months later.

The Calm – Confessions of a Thirsty Tongue

The Calm
Confessions of a Thirsty Tongue
1998 (no label)
Manassas, Virginia, USA

Ellyn Bussey – Vocals
PJ Bussey – Guitars, programming
Daniel Wilkinson – Bass
Tim Shoemaker – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Riddle in Red
  2. Plight of a Hypocrite
  3. Inner Mission
  4. Letter to a Long Lost Friend
  5. The Raging Calm

Side 2:

  1. Shadow’s Hold
  2. Out from the Shadows
  3. A Breath of Fresh Spirit
  4. Gift Giving

This appears to be the last demo from The Calm, a band that was formed when two members of Taker and Armageddon teamed up with the vocalist from Sorrow of Seven. Well, one of those Taker/Armageddon guys was married to the vocalist from So7, so it was a natural team-up. Also of note is that no band members are listed on the tape itself, so the information above is from various online sources. It seems that this demo finds the band leaving behind some of the gothic influences and going for a mix of traditional metal and progressive metal. “Out from the Shadows” is a re-recorded version of “The Choice” from their 1994 demo. I am not sure if any other songs on this tape are re-named versions of older songs from that demo or their 1995 demo, though. I just recognized that song because it was included on HM Magazine’s Hard Music Sampler 73 in 1998. After this, PJ and Dan formed a band called Attic Symphony that is referred to as “mostly instrumental epic melodic heavy metal.” I should check that out.

Equinox – Ceremony of the North Wind

Ceremony of the North Wind
1998 (no label)
Gwinn, Michigan, USA

Michael Chevalier – Vocals, Rhythm guitars, keyboards, drums, programming
Sean Bedore – Lead guitars
Daniel Meneguzzo – Bass

Side 1:

  1. Demonized
  2. King of Worms
  3. Within the Light of Satanas

Side 2:

  1. The Lost Son
  2. Beyond the Neverending
  3. Ceremony of the North Winds

This one was a big shock. I was expecting some kind of pop album with Celtic or Viking touches based on the album cover and title. This is full blast black/death metal with hints of symphonic metal here and there. They had one demo before this called The Adonis Chronicle, and after this demo they changed their name to Draco to avoid copyright problems with Equinox. They released this demo or a re-recorded version of this demo as Draco and then split up. As you can see above, the tape only has song titles and no other information. The rest I found online.

Jeremiah’s Grotto – Raining Small Colors

Jeremiah’s Grotto
Raining Small Colors
1998 (no label)

Chris Siegle – Lead vocals, guitar
Brian Gray – Guitars
Dan Gray – Bass
Jonathan Farnell – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Hold the Light
  2. Clarified
  3. 20/20
  4. Afraid
  5. Raining Small Colors

Side 2:

  1. Embrace
  2. One Second of Grace
  3. Lost Impurity
  4. Divine
  5. 5

This is the same Jeremiah’s Grotto that went on to release two albums for Screaming Giant Records (Exemplar in 1999 and Through It All in 2001). The sound here is still the same emo/indie sound that they had on their later albums, but a little dialed back on the emo side here. The vocal style here is also the off-key style that emo/indie bands were doing a lot of in the late 90s – not everyone’s cup of tea if I remember. But it was for others, which is why they probably got signed. The only two tracks that seem to have made it onto later albums are “20/20” and “Lost Impurity” (changed to “Loss-Impurity”) on Exemplar.

Sanctifica – In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter
1998 (no label)

Hubertus – Guitar, vocals
Jonathan – Bass
Daniel – Drums
Alexander – Synth

Side 1:

  1. Intro
  2. Burial of the Grave
  3. Blind for Reality
  4. In the Bleak Midwinter

Side 2:

  1. Sacrifice to Life
  2. King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Black metal that is so black that the cassette is entirely black! Really – It has no label, no markings, no indication of which side is which – just a plain black cassette. I don’t know much about black metal, but this cassette has good production values, so you can clearly here everything. So many extreme metal demos are recorded so poorly that it all becomes a muddy mess. You can hear each instrument clearly here – and the vocals as well (even though these are growly/harsh black metal that are hard to decipher at times). I enjoyed the cassette, but don’t know enough about the genre to be able to compare it to others. Apparently they became more avant-guarde as they went along. These songs were re-released on a split with Pantokrator in 2001, but it doesn’t seem like any of these songs made in onto any of their own full-lengths.