by Justin Gaines
– Senior Columnist/News Editor —
When you think of the wave of melodic death metal that swept out of Europe in the mid to late ’90s, it’s usually the big Swedish bands – At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity – that come to mind. But while those Gothenburg bands (rightly) got the most attention, German band Night in Gales showed that it wasn’t just the Swedes who could masterfully merge death metal ferocity with melody. The band put out four very strong albums from 1997 to 2001, but their material – mostly demos – over the following decade has been limited.
The Divebomb label, as part of it’s Bootcamp series, has collected quite the array of rare Night in Gales material, some for the first time on CD. The collection, titled Ashes & Ends, features a hefty 20 tracks, including the full 2005 Ten Years of Tragedy EP (which was previously only available digitally), the 2008 demo Promo MMVIII, the cover of Anthrax’s “Indians” (originally from the Japanese import version of Nailwork), a previously unreleased cover of Pentagram’s “Broken Vows,” the alternate version of “Slavesun” from the Death…Is Just the Beginning IV compilation, three early Thunderbeast demos, and the very rare, 6-song Sylphlike demo from 1996.
There’s such a great selection of rare material here, but the highlight for most fans and collectors has to be inclusion of the Sylphlike demo, which shows just how raw and intense this band was heading into their debut album. Beyond that, the later demo work shows how the band evolved over the years, and of course the cover songs are a very cool addition. Factor in new digital remastering on all of the songs and a booklet loaded with vintage photos and new covert artwork, and this collection is really a fantastic package altogether. Ashes & Ends, like all Divebomb Bootcamp titles, is limited to 500 copies.
Obviously a collection like Ashes & Ends is intended for die-hard fans of Night in Gales, and they’re definitely going to need to get their hands on it. If you’re not already familiar with the band, but are a fan of bands like At the Gates, The Haunted and early In Flames, Ashes & Ends is a good introduction to the Night in Gales sound, though picking up Towards the Twilight and Thunderbeast might be a better starting point.
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
2. The Woundwalker
3. Ashes and Ends
4. Get Killed or Die Trying
5. To the Morgue and Back
8. Five Tongues and a Funeral
10. Broken Vows
11. Slavesun (alternate version)
12. Perihelion (demo version)
13. The Shadowchamber (demo version)
14. Blackfleshed (demo version)
15. Bleed Afresh
17. Avoid Secret Vanity
19. When the Lightning Starts
20. Flowing Spring
Label: Divebomb Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10