Artist: PUTREFACTION, MACRODEX, TOXAEMIA, UNLEASHED
Year: 1989, 1990
Review by Mike Abominator
By Mike Abominator
Let’s take a journey to Sweden shall we? Those of you who know me KNOW that I worship the old Swedish Death Metal scene. So my first article for this killer site will be me talking about 4 classic demos from that era. These are some of my favorites from my own personal collection. I will examine these old tapes with a blood drenched hand and the stench of fresh corpse in my mouth. Enough of my yammering and puking, let’s head to the cemetery now and remember these classics.
PUTREFACTION “Painful Death” demo 1989.Mike Abominator
This is an interesting one. The maniacs from Visby, Gotland(aka GRAVE) decided to do this project on the side. It pretty much sounds like GRAVE. And it totally fucking rules. This demo ranks up there with my favorite GRAVE demo(and one of my all time favorite demos over all) “Anatomia Corporis Humani”. The three songs on this classic recording by PUTREFACTION are just as heavy and disgusting as anything GRAVE ever did. The guitars on here might not be as heavy as the “Anatomia…” demo, yet the vocals are just as putrid. These guys were busy in 1989! First came the GRAVE demo “Sexual Mutilation” in early ’89, then this demo a month later, followed by the massive “Anatomia…” demo later that year. I decided to focus on this one for now as some people don’t know about it, even GRAVE fans, or might have forgotten about it (even with the killer GRAVE demo compilation that came out on CD/LP in 2011 that included this demo.) I know that quite a few Swedish bands were heavily influenced by the CARCASS album “Reek of Putrefaction” at this time. You can hear that influence with GRAVE as well as here on this PUTREFACTION demo. Especially with the vocals. But even the music has a very “CARCASS feel” to it, just a more focused Death Metal version. Like CARCASS mixed with the legends of the time DEATH, MASTER and MASSACRE. The name of the band here also REEKS of the whole CARCASS influence. I know many people who worship the debut GRAVE album “Into the Grave”. A few even say it is the best Swedish Death Metal album of all time. I will be in the minority on that view, as I prefer the “Sexual Mutilation”,
“Anatomia…” and the PUTREFACTION “Painful Death” demo here as the most deadly, putrid and heaviest death noise that these Gotland Maniacs ever released. I felt that “Into the Grave” was too clean. When you grew up in this era of the tape trading network and became a GRAVE fan with these early recordings, you might agree with me on this one, as blasphemous as this sounds to those who loved “Into the Grave”. Yes the production and sound on this demo has “lower sound standards” in a sense. BUT the energy is here. The infamous “Yellow Studios” where PUTREFACTION recorded this demo is the same spot the other two GRAVE demos were recorded at in 1989. Not even a proper “studio”, it was just the rehearsal space that the guys used to practice their deadly arts. This is some CRUDE shit here. Often out of tune and off time, not for everyone. But it’s perfect music to these ears. GREAT music on top of that. Some of you might recognize a couple of these songs on here: ” Severing Flesh” was re-recorded and included on the “You’ll Never See” album track list. Also, “Putrefaction Remains” was re-recorded and included on the “In the Eyes of Death” compilation that Century Media Records put out in 1991. This demo is a prime example of classic Swedish Death Metal. Go hunt down a link and FEEL THE DEATH!
MACRODEX “Infernal Excess” demo #2 1989.
Another interesting one here with MACRODEX “Infernal Excess”. The band got heavier with future releases(including the crushing song “Cremation” from the classic Projections of a Stained Mind compilation.) But this demo was my introduction to the band. There are some thrashy elements in the mix, as there often were with the earlier recordings of the Death Metal bands of 1989. The “thrash to death” transition was still in effect. MACRODEX would abandon all of their thrash elements later on, but on this demo, they are still there. Not a bad thing at all, because the thrashier passages are raging and ripping away. But you can hear that the guys were starting to discover the more sinister and evil side of death metal. The song writing is top notch here with great structures and killer riffs. Think DEATH “Scream Bloody Gore” mixed with KREATOR “Pleasure to Kill”, or some sort of heavy Scandinavian DARK ANGEL. With their outstanding over all body of work, I’m surprised MACRODEX didn’t get much more attention! They went for more of a full on Death Metal sound with down tuned guitars and deep puked vocals with the previously mentioned future recordings, but I have always loved this demo. MACRODEX would break up in 1990 and the members would splinter in two later well known groups: HOUSE OF USHER and CRYPT OF KERBEROS. Both of those bands put out some legendary stuff back in the day, but I have always preferred MACRODEX. The deathly charm of the more “Death Thrash” stuff lies in it’s relentless speed. The balls out intensity of everything just slaughters all in it’s path. This was spoke of in the great Swedish Death Metal book, when it came to such a furious and blistering pace, with the super bottom heavy bass, it WAS Death Metal with thrash elements. MACRODEX didn’t get the same attention of the other Swedish heavyweights back then, but Swedish label C.B.R. Records thought that this demo was good enough that they released the second run of “Infernal Excess” and spread more copies world wide(complete with glossy cover and pro duplicated tapes). For my ears, this demo rules and is rarely talked about among even the die hard maniacs that were around back then. You will want to kill all that live when you put this on and head bang away during the likes of “Anticipated Destiny”(with it’s “YOUU WEREEE BORNN TOO DIEE!” chorus) and the all out madness of “Altar of Death” which would have made 1985 Evil Chuck proud. A lot of this style of Death Metal or Death Thrash is very popular right now. Check this demo out to relive the history of where this style was PERFECTED.
TOXAEMIA “Kaleidoscopic Lunacy” demo #1 1990.
Fucking BRUTAL stuff. I remember getting this demo from a local record store(YES we had record stores that sold demos back then, even for bands from Sweden! There were only a few, but they had them) and when I brought it home, put it on and started blasting it, a buddy of mine didn’t like the sound/production. He said “This is one of those recordings that you have to really concentrate when you listen to it.” haha, meaning that it’s too “lo-fi” for regular ears. Fair enough. He was never a true die hard fan of the underground anyways, one of those types of people that stopped listening to extreme Heavy Metal at Slayer. This demo is heavy as fuck. 1990 was a banner year for Death Metal. TOXAEMIA helped to shape that year with this sickening display of brutality. There are some outstanding riffs and arrangements going on here. This band always managed to mix the slower stuff very well with the mid tempo and fast stuff. It just crushes along. I think the sound of the recording makes it all the more disgusting and primitive. It works to great effect in that manner. TOXAEMIA always had great time changes as well, I call it the “Roller Coaster from Hell” parts, where it changes from fast/slow/mid or any combination of that and jerks you around, without being too technical or progressive. This demo has a great representation of that. Some of the Death Metal from this era can also be considered “generic”. Especially with a scene like Sweden where there were so many great bands. It would be impossible to NOT be influenced by each other. I don’t really agree with that generic tag, which some have said TOXAEMIA fall into. If you can dig deep and really get to the bloody guts of this stuff, you can hear the differences that each band brings to the death feast. TOXAEMIA is no different as far as that goes on this demo. Tell me that a song like “Evil Rage” isn’t a total fucking classic Death Metal song. It has all of the ingredients needed for a Death Metal recipe: Deadly Riffs, Ripping Speed, Destructive Heaviness… IT’S ALL THERE! A few months after the band released this demo, Wimp Records out of The Netherlands(a label run by one of the guys from Bestial Summoning) re-released it. The songs on here are a bit easier to track down these days as Dark Descent Records released a full TOXAEMIA discography called “Buried to Rise” that includes this awesome demo on there. One of the great bands of the classic and glorious era of Death Metal history. I’m torn on the subject of what would have happened to these sickos if they went on to record an album and went big time like some of their countrymen did. Although it would have been cool to have seen TOXAEMIA do a classic full length album, it’s also killer to have them frozen in time so to speak. Part of the killer bands that few know about and are only enjoyed in their early and amateur state of being. Often times the hunger and energy shines through much better when it comes to raw and brutal music like this. Check this demo out and see if you agree.
UNLEASHED “The Utter Dark” demo #1 1990.
This beast might be the horrific granddaddy of this bunch. PURE FUCKING DARKNESS! And YES…. This demo is my all time favorite UNLEASHED release that they put out. The story involving this band is also an interesting one. In 1989, the Swedish band NIHILIST was all ready to take over the Death Metal Universe. They had three amazing demos and were one of the most respected names in the worldwide underground. We had all heard the rumors that NIHILIST were to sign with the (at the time mighty) Earache Records for their debut full length album. Then.. Disaster struck. NIHILIST broke up. Gone! DEAD! Everyone was shocked. The blow itself was bad, but the agony was short lived as ENTOMBED was born. It was strange to see that Johnny Hedlund was not involved in this deadly new band. But then Johnny came back with UNLEASHED and this demo. My history with UNLEASHED is kind of cool actually. A friend of mine had picked up this demo at a local record store and blasted it for me and I HAD to have it after hearing the ultimate death noise that came out of the speakers like maggots. I actually wrote down the contact address of drummer Anders Schultz and wrote a letter and sent my well concealed cash for this massive demo. Anders and I became long running pen pals after that and we would trade all kinds of cool stuff back and forth. Anyways, back to this insane recording. This might just be the darkest of all of the Swedish Death Metal demos. GROTESQUE was doing some evil stuff at this point, but “The Utter Dark” has such a gloomy and dismal atmosphere to it, I think it rules the abyss. UNLEASHED went on to record some of the best Death Metal around, including two classic albums in a row. But nothing they did tops THIS demo for me. It’s pure evil. Former DISMEMBER singer(and future guitarist) Robert “Robban” Senneback spit forth the vocals on here and they are some of the most hideous and scary vocals ever. They aren’t even super low and growled. But they have a unique quality to them, more of a mid range snarl, yet totally abysmal. He is one of my favorite all time Death Metal singers and he only technically sang on this demo, the second UNLEASHED demo “… Revenge” and the first two DISMEMBER demos. I also remember being hypnotized by the UNLEASHED logo. Still one of the best band logos ever. As I mentioned, the band did go on to do some killer stuff after this. But this version of the band, with Robban’s sickening vocals, the down tuned guitar madness and the crushingly evil atmosphere, is still the best for me. The sound is just suffocating. It sucks the life out of you. Which is what great Death Metal should do! hehe. This demo here is an all time classic and also a favorite of mine, might even be in my all time top 10 demos. This punishing trip to hell of a demo is a great way to close the casket on this article.
There you have it sickos. My first words of madness for UNDERGROUND SEIGE are now in the bloody books. Hope you enjoyed this trip to hell. If you didn’t, well that’s just too bad. Go read the Metal Sucks site. Expect more from me in the coming weeks and months. Mostly coverage of the ancient and rotting classics. But some new stuff too. YES even for a cranky old corpse like me, there is new shit out there worth talking about! Until then, HAILS OF HELL FUCKERS!!!!!!