(Underground Records, 1992)
#FOR FANS OF: Swedish Death Metal, Grave, Entombed
One of the earlier purveyors of the classic Swedish-style of Death Metal, not the brand familiar today as a style that evolved into Metalcore but a dirty, raw breed of true Death Metal that has lasted a lot longer and been more impacting on the scene as a whole. Often characterized for the ever-present sound of the guitars that generate more of a buzzsaw-like grind than anything out in the genre, yet overloaded with melodic flurries despite being incredibly fast-paced and vicious in tone, this is quite striking and really gets quite fun at times with the majority of the tracks here just roaring through their paces at breakneck tempos propelled by pounding drumming and blaring bass-lines, all topped off with distinctive vocals that match the fury and vitriol of the music appropriately enough. That said, there’s a decidedly noticeable lack of variation within the album, which is a problem for the majority of bands in this style and really shouldn’t be held too much against them, and even moreso since it’s a debut effort, but the fact remains that this one tends to run into a rather interchangeable pattern throughout where it’s almost impossible to really pick songs apart once you get to the half-way point as it’s all minute variations on the same riff played at differing tempos which causes the songs to run into each other quite easily and effectively kills off the momentum this could’ve gathered. For the most part, all the tricks this one has to display are brought for in the two opening tracks, "Blood on My Skin" and "Shadows are Astray," which run through the ringer of buzzsaw riffing, pounding drumming and voracious growls atop thrashing-paced tracks, which mean numbers like "Bells of Misery," "Inhuman Dissection" and "The Aspiration" to feel like it’s all been done before despite ordinarily being solid, enjoyable tracks. There’s a few nice bonuses here with something like "Dreams of Death" which incorporates a brief acoustic intro before the pace kicks back into normal territory that almost works like a breather due to the overall brevity, and "Orgy in Flesh" is punctuated by both haunting female vocals and a few keyboard dashes to help break up the monotony of the songs. As well, outro "Until Death Tears Us Apart" is a mostly synth-laden instrumental with a few soft growls to set the mood, but it does seem to take a lot of the steam out of the album with another short instrumental track placed here after another one earlier on and really leaving this with only seven proper songs out of nine. Luckily, this reissue contains additional material in the form of the three-track 2000 EP 'Apocalyptic Armageddon' to continue the assault, being three relatively similar tracks in the same general manner and style as before just with better, more modernized production as would be expected on a newer recorded output. It’s not revolutionary like some of their contemporaries and suffers from an identity crises at times, but overall it’s a solid, serviceable slab of Swedeath, and tack on a few extra bonus points if the presence of bonus tracks appeals to you completists.