Embrace the Emptiness

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New Jersey's homegrown funeral doom institution, Evoken, refused to play it safe with their 1998 debut full-length, Embrace the Emptiness, which took long strides (with looooong songs, of course) beyond their nascent genre's barely established fundamentals, and successfully eclipsed the comparative immaturity displayed by 1996's Shades of Night Descending EP. So, in addition to slumbering tempos underpinned by reverberating drums, evanescent synth orchestrations haunting thundering guitars, and booming growls hurled straight from the deepest, foulest crypt, album standouts like "Tragedy Eternal," "Chime the Centuries End," and "Ascend into the Maelstrom" also boasted a few rather "energetic" passages and tormented clean baritones mixed in by frontman John Paradiso. Another absolute colossus, the self-explanatory "Lost Kingdom of Darkness," even made room for some tinkling piano in its successful bid to depict endless caverns snuffed by impenetrable, everlasting darkness -- a fitting summation, come to think of it, for Evoken's entire aesthetic vision, of which Embrace the Emptiness arguably represented the first fully fleshed chapter.

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