In 1997, Dismember decided to release an album with the most obvious title in the world: Death Metal.
Death Metal is exactly what it says, death metal. For more than 40 minutes, you’ll hear the Swedes play some pretty straightforward fair, staying true to the sound which they in part innovated in the late 80s and early 90s, along with better-known Swedes, Entombed.
Whereas Entombed went a different, some would say more commercial, direction with their 1993 album Wolverine Blues, Dismembered stuck with the buzzing guitars, frenetic drumbeats and throat ripping growls that became staples of Swedish death metal early on.
This isn’t to say that Dismembered is doesn’t push the limits of their sound. Even though they were almost a decade old at this point, they were still finding new things to do with a then-old sound.
Release on July 29, 1997, and produced by Thomas Skogsberg, Death Metal has a rather clean sounding production, but not sterilized.
The album feature Matti Kärki on vocals, David Blomqvist on lead guitar, Robert Sennebäck on rhythm guitar, Richard Cabez on bass and Fred Estby on Drums. Estby is also credited as a producer and engineer. The songs were wrote by several combinations of members of the band, which gives things quite a varied sound.
Death Metal blast off with the furious track “Of Fire.” As the first track, it does its job of sucking you in and giving you an idea of what you’re in for. Going by “Of Fire” we’re in for some kick-ass death metal that sprinkles some great melodies over heavy riffs. This song also throws in a little Black-Sabbath type rhythm during its solo, which itself is, dare I say, rather pretty.
“Bred for War” is an old-school death metal sounding track. It’s also one of the most varied, changing direction several times. It’s definitely a down-tuned shredder. This old-school feel is also present in “Trendkiller.”.
Of course, Dismember didn’t exactly avoid some of the trends in death metal at the time.
“Let the Napalm Rain” is about as groovy as a you can get with Swedish death metal, coming pretty close but not touching, the “death ‘n’ roll” that fellow Swedes Entombed were known for. “Killing Compassion” and “When Hatred Killed the Light” also go in this death ‘n’ roll direction, but don’t really stand out.
The standout of the death ‘n’ roll tracks is “Stillborn Ways” which is marked by its slow, but heavy beat. It’s got that raw sound that makes it stick out from much of the other more polished sounding tracks on Death Metal.
“Mistweaver” ends the album on a slow, but heavy note, reminiscent of Cathedral in some way, except for the vocals, which are Kärki’s roars instead of Lee Dorrian’s yelps.
I like Death Metal, it’s a pretty solid, if not exactly innovative album. A lot of it sounds like something you’ve heard before, if you’ve been listening to death metal for a while. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing and it works for Dismember, who seem skilled at taking already existing ideas and putting them together under their own sound.
Would I recommend buying it?
Unless you’re a Swedish death metal completest, I can’t really say “go out and get it.” But if you have some time to spend in your car or just want something to take you back to a time when metal wasn’t dominated by scream-o-emo, then I’ll say “yes.”
Anyway, you can find the entire album on YouTube and it’s worth listening to.