Dismember takes Swedish Death Metal crown with ‘Indecent & Obscene’

You can’t help but notice the Indecent & Obscene album by Dismember when you see it.

I mean, the image of the band’s metallic logo breaking through a guy’s bloody chest cavity is pretty memorable.

The album, released Jan. 26, 1993, is memorable in its own right as well.

At this point, Dismember was one of the biggest names in Swedish Death Metal. But they had one problem: Entombed.

While not ripoffs of each other, the bands had a very similar sound. So similar that they could be indistinguishable sometimes, outside of production and approaches. Both bands had the buzzing guitars, roaring vocalists and galloping drums that marked the Swedish scene. Heck, these bands pretty much created it.

The main way you could tell the difference between the bands is that Entombed’s production always sounded clearer and louder, while Dismember’s production always seemed to be slightly muted in comparison. Also, Entombed’s songs were more songlike, with a definite structure, while Dismember were more experimental in their approach, with songs often not having a traditional structure.

Of course, metal fans being the insolent creatures they are, will take you to task for everything I said because any sort of criticism and comparison is blasphemous.

Anyway, when Entombed changed their approach in 1992 with a more rock oriented approach, Dismember was pretty much left alone in continuing forward with the sound that gave Swedish Death Metal its distinction.

And they made the most of it.

Indecent & Obscene is a favorite album of many fans of Swedish Death Metal and it’s understandable why. You have the fine musicianship and on-your-toes song structure that made it interesting here. These aren’t songs that go intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus. No, these songs eschew that and go all over the place but manage to hold things together.

At the time of Indecent & Obscene’s recording the band was Matti Kärki on vocals, David Blomqvist on guitars, Fred Estby on drums and Richard Cabeza on bass.

Each of these men do their job pretty well, though Cabeza seems to be missing on a lot of the tracks, which I blame on metal productions at the time which de-emphasized the bass guitar.

The album

Indecent & Obscene, like many death metal albums at the time, showcases fine musicianship but often has song structures that are inaccessible for casual listeners. There’s not a lot that’s going to be memorable the first go around and that just loses a lot of people who give an album a try. It’s definitely an album that takes multiple listens.

Things start off with “Fleshless,” which tries to live up to its name by stripping your skin off with its barrage of sounds. It’s fast and almost sounds like two different songs when you get to the middle of it with a completely different riff and beat. But, it ends up back sounding like where it started by the time it’s over.

Sorrowfilled” is a pretty good standard death metal track that seeks to bludgeon the listener. The melodies used in it are what make the track worthwhile as well as the extra-hard base drumming toward the end.

Case # Obscene” is also a solid number, going from a slower grind to a mid-pace buzz fest before picking things up to a fast pace with the meaty verses of the songs. It’s one of the more memorable tracks and sticks out as a wholly Dismember song that wouldn’t be mistaken for Entombed.

Souldevourer” is a prime example of that Swedish Death Metal sound. It has the “chainsaw” sound of buzzing guitars, melodies that you’d picture being played by a bard on the Styx and unrelenting bludgeoning from the drums. Good stuff with a great solo. Karki also puts on his strongest performance on the album here. Pretty much, everyone is on their “A” game for this song.

Reborn in Blasphemy” is another standout, kicking out with that melody that makes cuts you like a scalpel. It’s probably the grooviest song on the album and it’s almost impossible not to bang your head without noticing to this song.

Dismember experiments with their sound a little with “9th Circle” allowing some unaccompanied strings to shine before tearing into the songs that has solos throughout.

Dreaming in Red” kicks off with one of the most memorable solos on the album and sees Dismember push themselves and their sound to a level that put them above many of their peers. It isn’t done by playing hard and fast, but instead pushing the vocals to be more guttural, liberally sprinkling solos throughout and changing pace while keeping it feeling like the same song. Real good stuff and probably the best track on the album.

Verdict

Indecent & Obscene is sort of a taking-the-throne party for Dismember taking the Swedish Death Metal throne. For the next couple of years, they would be one of the top bands in their niche. But, unlike Entombed, they were never able to grow beyond that niche. Though, I think that’s fine with most death metal fans.

Like I said before, this is an album that requires multiple listens to appreciate. If you’re someone that doesn’t have the time to sit down and listen to a full album, then I can’t recommend this for you. But, if you appreciate heavy music that doesn’t seek mass appeal, then I think this is right up your alley.

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