My Favorite Flexi: Evoken “Rotting Misery” (dB026)

To commemorate five years of Decibel Flexis we’ve asked Decibel writers to write a review-length tribute to their favorite disc. Today’s installment features Evoken’s cover of “Rotting Misery,” originally by Paradise Lost.

Included in the since sold-out 100th issue (February 2013), this particular little, black flexi has some awesome, if not downright eerie contextual significance.

First appearing on Paradise Lost’s debut from February 1990 (exactly twenty-three years before the release of the flexi in question), “Rotting Misery” is the opening track on side B of Lost Paradise. Side Bs are always the dark(er) halves of records, yet can you imagine crawling over to flip the record with what feeble strength remained in your steadily weakening corpus and then hearing “Rotting Misery?!” Bloody Christ on the crooked cross, you would’ve shat your spine! You would’ve heard that opening riff (after the knell tolls, that is) and your body would’ve jettisoned via diarrhea its instantly liquefied spinal column. No wonder Decibel’s editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian calls “Rotting Misery,” “the ultimate PL doom track.” Because in the early ‘90s, for him and many other death metalheads, Paradise Lost were gods.

Count among them some Jersey boys, John Paradiso (that’s his real surname, too!) and Vince Verkay, of Evoken. Not long after Paradise Lost dropped, and no doubt still under the influence of its malediction, Verkay would gather in umbris with like-minded gloommongers under the name Asmodeus, then eventually Funereus–which at one murky point included none other than Decibel’s own Doom-Death doyen, Scott Köerber, on guitar. Eventually the line-up solidified, and for their moniker, Evoken paid homage to another farther out monolith.

Having grown up alongside those early evocations, Mudrian asked his longtime friends in Evoken to lend their leaden handcraft for the monumental 100th issue flexi. “I know Evoken songs don’t grow in trees – and they probably wouldn’t fit on a flexi if they did anyway,” Mudrian explains. “So I suggested they cover ‘Rotting Misery.’”

For their part, Evoken remain faithful to the original song. That is the LP version–never mind how cool it might have been had they covered the In Dub version where the guitars drop out during that John Carpenter’s Halloween-like keyboard part. But after twenty-three years, “Rotting Misery” is an unshakable classic and Evoken do well to stay true to its rotten form, making it heavier-than-was-previously-conceivable only incidentally.

It’s worth mentioning, also, that it was Mudrian’s hidden hand that brought together Evoken and Gregor Mackintosh upon on a likely cold, probably rainy and perfectly dismal night in Brooklyn for the second half of Decibel’s 10th Anniversary celebration. And of course, Scott Köerber was there in full, fist-raising, goosebumps-getting force.

Recalls Mudrian: “Vallenfyre played the first of the shows at the Best Buy Theater (or whatever the fuck it’s called now) in Times Square, while I booked Evoken to open the second show at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. Since I knew Evoken knew the song, and I knew Greg was in town that night, I asked him if he’d consider playing “Rotting Misery” with them that night. He was totally down, but we needed to find him a left-handed, seven-string guitar (because he couldn’t bring one over, as they were using tourist visas, not working visas and that would have set off some red flags at customs). Anyway, it was a nightmare getting him an axe for the show, but I pulled some strings with a huge assist from some of our gear company friends and we made it happen. The Evoken dudes went to the venue in the afternoon to rehearse with Greg, Scott and I went there to meet up as well, then we all rode down in the Evoken van to Vitus. Hamish [Hamilton Glencross] came too, since he’s actually a massive Evoken fan and wanted to see their set.”

So as you jam my favorite flexi, bear in mind all these aforementioned numerological coincidences and metallurgic fortuities, not to mention the epic trial for a worthy axe on the night of the live performance. For this isn’t just some single-sided 33 1/3 collector’s item of high demand and invaluable worth; it is also a rabbit hole into the magical world of Decibel Magazine; where men walk among pillars and the pillars themselves, like long-haired, tattooed caryatids, step down from their daises to walk among the resultant rubble alongside us fortunate mortals.