Category Archives: Swedish Death Metal

PROFANAL (Ita): “Black Chaos” full-length Cd 2012 Iron Tyrant

Profanal Black ChaosHere it is, we finally delivered. One stays out of the local scene (please don’t start bitching about the use of the word “scene” if you can find another, less sabotaged term to describe a collection of bands playing extreme music within the boundaries of the same country, it’s your problem, not mine) for a decade and when you’re back you suddenly realize your country has produced more great releases in a year than the decade before you started drifting abroad. So this is it: my country is now able to release stuff like this monumental piece of Metal of Death that could as well being recorded in some cheap studios in 1990, with that acrid, crushing sound that was typical of that time (and broadly exploited in books like “Swedish Death Metal” and “Encyclopedia of Svensk Dodsmetall”), by  skinny teenagers dressed in checkered plaid shirts.

Let’s start from the very beginning, though. The packaging is quite nice: we have a tentacled Lovecraftian monster of Seagravean symmetry on cover, and we know that tentacles are very high in the scale of Death Metal subjects. It’s maybe a little bit cartoonish, but I certainly praise the choice of a black and white layout. Hell, you could not go wrong with lineart black and white. Well you can, actually, but this is not the case. Two big surprises await me as I open the booklet. It is 8 pages long (wow, no shitty folding leaflets this time?), and has LYRICS inside. Lyrics, for fuck’s sake, sounds like ages since I read any good ones. The writing may not be the best I have ever read, and sometimes the grammar is not entirely correct or elegant, but here we have DEATH METAL lyrics about suffering, death, grief, zombies, demons – themes that should always be in a Death Metal album. Fuck yes. Thank you, thank you very much.

Soundwise, there is very little to say here, but that is far, far from being a complaint. I might go digging some obscure reference for names of Swedish rehearsal bands of the early nineties, but I suppose Dismember are the greatest and most blatant influence here. I’d dare to go into little more detail and say their sound is a mix of ALL the Dismembers of all eras and not just the early ones (oh and excluding that tragic album I won’t name with the space marine on cover, of course). The uncompromising brutality of Grave is certainly another fitting element of description, as is Carnage‘s hyper-loose riffing and decrepit sound. If I was to play in a band today, I would play this shit, I have no doubts about this. Profanal (which does not stand for Professor Anal if you ask, that might be their pornogrind side project) love real Death Metal and play Death Metal. Swedish Death precisely. They play it with no frills and not a single iota out of place. Metallic, distorted chords with anguishing screams and a bucket of rotten blood smeared all over.

Color me impressed, this is one of the best Death Metal bands we have in this country right now.

ABSURD (Swe): “Discography ’91-’92” compilation Cd 2012 Black Vomit

absurd-discographyAhhhh! When Nuclear Abominations first became a webzine in 1999, one of the most boring things to do was scanning covers. It was outrageously boring shit, yet it was cool at the same time since it was difficult to see underground record covers, especially when we talk about very old releases. Am I complaining like an old sailor here? Hell no! All I had to do this time was just Google-ing the name of this compilation and, like magic, here is the cover. Man, these are really great times for lazy fucks like me. I wouldn’t even have to open the Cd, I could just listen to this on YouTube. Couldn’t I?

Considering I am not some high profile psychologist nor a hermit swelling in its own thoughts, I am not going to ponder the reason why I still do buy records sometimes. I haven’t really thought much about it but like I always did for music-related stuff, I just go with the feelings I have at the moment. That’s why I never learned to play an instrument I guess. Whatever the case I was intrigued to hear this retrospective. Obviously, I had listened to the  main recording that make up this collection before, namely the 1991 demo tape later repressed on 7″ on Seraphic Decay (mine is on trippy pink paper cover, combined to the abstract design it was quite a nice psychotropic experience), but I never had the chance to hear Absurd live before. Obviously we’re not talking about the German NSM band (I omit the B on purpose here), but one of the small underground Swedish bands that played in Sweden in the earlier days of this form of music. They were from a small town just north of Stockholm (Täby, same town as Treblinka)  for what I see, and well, you cannot really go too wrong with a 1991 band recording a demo at the Sunlight Studios at the time can you?

Before going on the the release itself, I’ll gladly spend a good word or two on the label: Black Vomit (from Greece) is the same label that released that Necro Schizma compilation we saw some 10 years now (IIRC it was From Beyond that released it) on wax, and – thank you Satan my lord – it has been released on super standard black vinyl with an super standard, bare packaging – enough with huge boxed sets spilling patches and pins from every corner. While I am a Necro Schizma fan and I did get the record as soon as I saw it, I have n0t bought their Genocidio vinyl yet but I plan to do it sometime in the not too far future. I have that old Ep of them and a more recent Cd from the early nineties (“Hoctaedrom”, how did it end on the local pop music store is a mystery) and I liked that stuff pretty much: good brutal sound without too much gloss.  Together with this Cd I also got the Necroccultus / Sub Niggurath split, which is also killer. Good work man. Support this label.

Now on this proper Aburd release. One big “thank you” for not using the bakery shop logo they got on the Seraphic Decay Ep, I am pretty happy with this one. Thank you also for keeping it lineart black and white, please somebody tell every label doing reissues today that this is the ONLY way to go. I learned from the interview repressed in the booklet taken from the Return of Swedish Dodsmetall that the band used to change logo continuously (more or less like Nun Slaughter?) so the one we saw on cover is probably just one of them According to the ex-Espulsion guy Christopher Wowden, the band (but I can read “him” between the lines) was not fond of classic Death Metal logos so my guess is the logo chosen and the cover we see here is probably not what the band would have used at the time. Have a read at the interview if you don’t have Nicola’s book because it’s quite interesting.  In conclusion, Absurd wanted to be progressive but the Cd came out way more similar to a old school Death Metal release than 80% of the retrospective I see these days. All in all, I am happy with this choice.

So what do these Absurd sound like? Well I am talking about the 3-trax demo here, because the live show, while interesting (there’s also a Pungent Stench cover), doesn’t exactly convey all the down-tuned, spectral sound of the band. I could dare to say sometimes the band has that slightly Crematory-ish semi-melodic vibe in the background, but all in all it’s Swedish Death metal. Highly structured, with a lot of tempo changes and blast beats, but Swedish Death to the core, hell yes. The vocals are not just the hyper-deep kind, and even have some metallic effect on the third track “See Through Me”. This last song definitely needs some extra attention because it has a lot of structure. I really like when bands attempted to experiment a bit while keeping it brutal (think Demilich or Crematory). It goes all through the spectrum of mid tempos and blasts but the choice of riffs and malevolent tremolos is something that could only come from 1990 Sweden. I have plugged off from the world for a few years but I am curious to see if any more recent band can capture this feel.

Good shit, get the Cd even for the three studio tracks if you don’t have the Seraphic Decay Ep. One single complain I could say is there is really little info except for a pretty regular collage and the aforementioned interview. I guess I would have liked a repress of the demo thank-list or some other extra information on the recordings, but after all you can excerpt the necessary info from the interview, so no big deal.

INTERMENT (swe): “Conjuration of the Sepulchral” split Cd with FUNEBRARUM (USA-Nj) 2007 Conqueror of Thorns

Funebrarum IntermentFuck, the Swedish guitar sound a la Entombed/Carnage always makes me cum like Peter North on acid. Interment is a band that really sound like it was taken straight from 1990. It is great to hear that they did not lose the touch despite the passage of time, a lot (almost all) of the bands that were formed the same year as Interment completely lost “it” by the mid nineties. Maybe they just fell into hybernation and they still think we’re in the year 1990 ah ah! Guess what a surprise when they receive letters without flyers and find out that Entombed plays commercial shit and Matti Karki has turned fat again.

The sound, the rhytm, the general writing and even the lyrics are all taken straight from the golden age of Death Metal, and I do not mean Interment sounds like a relatively recent band with a vintage sound (take Deathevokation of Pentacle) – it is a band really sound exactly like a band from that period. I even found some traces of early Napalm Death sonorities, Autopsy and other trhash/grind acts from the 80’s in the mix, and these are influences that modern band trying to play vintage just don’t have, period. The vocals are not terribly deep (also in typical Swedish way), and for once you will be able to discern the phrasing without reading the booklet. But the killer part in this release is the guitarwork which is HUGE, with all those vaguely harmonic riffs a la late Nihilist or Dismember, grossly fat sound and all the headbanging rage of lost centuries (now tell me “Breeding Spawn” is not a Carnage song).

Madame et Monsieurs, another release not to be missed.  Killer Death Metal lyrics as well, totally flawless. 

FUNEBRARUM (USA-Nj): “Conjuration of the Sepulchral” split Cd with INTERMENT (swe) 2007 Conqueror of Thorns

Funebrarum IntermentSo Funebrarum is finally back after the brilliant full length “Beneath the Columns of Abandoned Gods” released 6 years ago and the deluxe gatefuld 7″ “Dormant Hallucinations” which I sadly skipped (for a serie of reasons I won’t go through right now). It has to e pointed out how this band actually preceded a few years the recent “old school” gimmick of the last 2-3 years, as it was really the first release to completely and courageously tribute the old Finnish/Swedish scene on an album that is close to perfection.

Releasing these two new songs as a split with Interment is surely a fitting choice as the band is still obsessed with the glorious and majestic sound of early nineties Finnish/Swedish Death Metal (which is my favourite genre ever as well by the way). Everything on these few minutes is still sweating old school grime, crusts and mold, and is as dark as the deepest zombie hole – and the sound is now, if possible, even slower and crunchier than before, resulting in a sticky web of sonorities that almost seem as if the tracks were recorded at 45rpm and played at 33. Like said before, there are only two new tracks in the album, considering one of the other 3 is an intro and the two remaining Abhorrence and Grave covers. I would use the same words that I used when I described their previous album but actually something has changed in the Funebrarum sound, and it’s that they have become much darker and heavier since the last time. The vocals are now very, very deep and the sound really fat and clogged by bass frequencies. I really love the new sound even if the riffs, by the contrary, seem a little bit less sicker and twisted.

 The cover art is still done by the most supreme of the vintage artists Chris Moyen, even though there is a sligth blue/violet filter over it which seems quite odd – I’d have preferred pure black and white a release like this. But anyway this is meant to be a “nocturnal” release so I’ll go for the dark night shades. All the influences by bands like Abhorrence, Funebre, Purtenance etc are still huge here, so if you want good shit one must really check this out.

FURBOWL (Swe): “Those Shredded Dreams” Cd 1992 Step One

Furbowl - Those Shredded DreamsThe almost unknown label Step One from Uppsala released in 1992 the first full-length of a very interesting band. Furbowl was born a few years after Joahn Axelsson left Carnage (he was on “The Day Man Lost”). Far from the grindcore sonorities of early Carnage, Liiva composed with Furbowl one of the most interesting and underrated albums of the entire old Swedish Death Metal movement. The guitar sound is the one we know: pure “Pieces”/”Left Hand Path” mush, down tuned , loose and obscure. Composition-wise, however, Furbowl never pointed much towards aggression alone (thanks god we had Grave for that!), even if some songs have actually a good number of killer riffs (“Sharkheaven” for one). The songs are really well thought, and apart from some attempts at trying to experiment beyond their abilities (the Typo’0’Negative vocals on “Razorblades” are definitely useless), you get here a real brilliant chunk of elaborate Swedish Death, with excellent hateful vocals, disturbing harmonies, and a dose of heavy R’n’R groove far beyond its time. It has to be noted that this band was made up of only two members – Liiva was doing all vocals, bass and guitar, while Max Thornell was responsible of percussions and a bunch of extremely well arranged keyboards. Sometimes the music becomes somewhat symphonic, but in a Pan-Thy-Monium / Master’s Hammer way, not mellow – the sick element is always present. Furbowl was a band able to blend an excellent selection of aggressive riffs, rocking and rolling grooves and the classical Swedish evocative melodies. I also liked the lyrics, introspective and choked with depression and anger. Michael Amott from Carcass was guest for two solos on this album, and was also the one who produced the Cd. Could be fun to know that the band changed name to Devourment, for a while…

MARDUK (Swe): “Dark Endless” Cd 1992 No Fashion

Naming the band after a Babylonian god and talking about blasphemy of the Judeo/Christian religion might sound a bit weird, but after all that’s the Morbid Angel way. The first thing that kicks ass in this album is the killer cover art by no one else than Dani Vala, guitarist and singer of the band I reviewed yesterday, Obscurity. Why this guy didn’t do more of these splendid works is beyond me. This painting is really “evil”, and grotesque.

Marduk - Dark EndlessSeveral of the best bands that turned into pure Black Metal in the nineties have common roots in the Death Metal scene (not that I think there is so much difference between the genres after all anyway). Marduk‘s first album “Dark Endless” has all the great elements of the classic Swedish Death Metal sound. Dan Swano did a good job at fiding the right sound for this recording – the obese trademark crushing sound of the Swedish axe permeates all songs, with a good balance of mid tempo, Bolt Thrower reminiscent riffs, hints of melodies in the vein of old Crematory, and even a sporadic use of keyboards a la Thou Shalt Suffer towards the end. While the album closes with an epic, elaborate and evocative guitarwork, the first songs, while generally faster, have their good share of sluggish, almost symphonic bridges. All of this has been obviously cooked with the classic Swedish receipt of sickness – none of this sounds mellow. My only regret is the vocals are a bit too raspy and high. I guess how killer this would have sounded with a real singer like Rogga of Merciless or a young Matti Karki. The main theme on this album could be misanthropy and obscurity, elements that were lost with time. I admit I like this stuff, but also their newer albums. This might not be an album that can be credited as legendary in the Death Metal world, but it’s a good compromise of Swedish Death Metal, crushing heaviness, misanthropy and a pinch of classic Scandinavian taste for dark melodies.

My copy, on No Fashion, has no lyrics on it, but I guess the new version has a better booklet. For sure the titles themselves follow the music perfectly: they are all about departure, funerals, damnation…

OBSCURITY (Swe): “Damnations Pride” collection Cd 1998 Scarlet

Obscurity - DamnationsScarlet records is not my favorite label of all time. Well actually I couldn’t tell on top of my head one band one in their roster which I like at all. But the man behind the label deserves some respect for his solid backgroud in extreme metal since at least the late eighties, and part of this background is finally showing on this jewel – an anthology of Obscurity recordings from 85 to 87 – and 1992. Considering the time when these songs were written, it’s quite clear that this was one of the very first Swedish Death Metal bands of all time (as by the way Daniel Ekeroth confirms on his book on the subject). The Cd is however not pure gold from start to finish to be honest. The two tracks recorded in 1992 are among the most boring examples of warped Venom inspired music I can think of, but that is probably Jorgen Lindhe starting to write riffs that whould stem into is subsequent (atrocious) band Flegma. What makes the Cd so impossible to miss, though, are the two demos that To The Death records also released on 7″ slightly before. If you can, you should get those, but if you prefer the Cd format (shame on you), this Cd has it all. The first demo is high quality Speed Core/Thrash-Metal heavily into Celtic Frost/Hellhammer on speed, with patterns that remind me a bit of a slower Suicidal Tendencies/Cryptic Slaughter. The Death Metal seed is not impossibly heavy on these tracks – but some real neat ideas appear here as well. But the real shit is the second demo, which also opens the Cd like a gate to Hela’s domain. Four tracks of blistering killer Death Metal which cannot but remind of early Merciless (which btw came a bit later) in pure ferocity. Also killer acts like Imperator or Sadus can be taken into account, the vocals are twisted, the guitar shords pure Thrash Metal in your face crunch. This shit alone would be worth a full fucking 9-score vote. Great riffing, hammering drum blasting, energy-ripping vocals. I cannot tell how much I love this hybrid form of early Death Metal. The last song “Demented” is a real surge of crushing Metal riffs, with a delightful Slayerish solo in the middle. The whole Cd is worth just for these 4 tracks. Monster band. Not standard Swedish Death with super tuned down guitars, but great headbanging fun! 

While the demos are amazing music to hear, the Cd itself is not done really well (we have high standards today thanks to Nuclear War Now!), there are no liner notes, the pictures are just 3 or 4, and there are no flyers, interviews, whatever. The cover art is too dark and grainy, the logo disappears in the shadow of the statue, and it is just too damn glossy. Only good thing is at least there are all the lyrics inside. Better than nothing. Well better than what Xtreem is doing with anthologies at least.