Review Summary: Swedish death metal done right for a change. Nothing more, nothing less.
Putting the Swedish death metal scene into perspective is always fun, and here's how I like to do it: In Flames are a bunch of pussies, Slaughter of the Soul sucked ass
and Dismember have the biggest balls on the planet. I shouldn't have to say much about the first two: In Flames were barely ever a death metal band (and they pretty much always sucked) and Slaughter at the Soul was about as uninteresting and overproduced as you can get. To rant for a minute, it's important to note that Slaughter of the Soul is somehow cherished amongst "death metal" fans, and yet they deem the millions of copy cats it spawned to be un-listenable, overproduced garbage. It's funny how that works out.
Anyways, my point is, and always has been, that Dismember is pretty much the only Swedish death metal band I care about at this point. I could go on about how consistent they are, how important they've been or how fuck
ing good their music is, but I'm not going to do that; at least not yet. No, I'm going to expand on what I briefly said earlier: their balls are huge. Need more proof of this? They put out an album called "Death Metal" 13 years after the legendary Possessed demo of the same name and got away with it. I'm telling you, Dismember have balls the size of the Hindenburg. Two of them. For every member.
Dismember's Self-Titled album is exactly what you'd expect from the band. It's exactly what you'd expect as an 8th full length as well, meaning it's an all encompassing barrage of every album they've done in the past (which, one could argue, was the same album with some slight variations). So, even before hearing the album, you know what you'll get: Uniquely shouted vocals, punk-influenced drumming and a fuck
load of distortion. But Dismember
surprised me at first. It wasn't a sudden shift in style, because there isn't one, but rather it was the band's ability to somehow get louder
, to get heavier
. Dismember have always been one of the heaviest, loudest and HUGEST sounding bands in metal, and still they keep building. The guitars are still rumbling and still tend to sometimes sound like a bass, and the bass is still so distorted that it sometimes tends to sound like guitars. And, as a result, the drums still sound a little puny by comparison. That's Dismember though, like it or not.
"Death Conquers All" wastes no time, starting the album with a reminder of the group's newly emphasised melody established on The God that Never Was
, while re-inviting the pummelling crunch that seemed to be missing off TGtNW. The next song, "Europa Burns", slows things down to a pace you'd have heard on Massive Killing Capacity
, focusing itself around an absolutely massive groove that's made all the more gigantic by the group's trademark hugeness. The song makes an astounding case for heaviness versus brutality, starting off heavier than any brutal death song ever has only to kick it up a notch after the intro starts. As you're hit with "Under a Bloodred Sky", you realize this could be something special, and perhaps even at par with their last release, an album many feel was at par with Like an Everflowing Stream
, one of the leading death metal albums of all time.
Sadly, "Under a Bloodred Sky" takes things down a notch in terms of quality. While initially outstanding with it's fervent pace and vocal-mirroring guitar leads, the last chunk of the track pushes Dismember into a comfort zone, and while that's nothing new, it seems all the more apparent on this release. Still, had it not been for the last bit of the track, a Swedish mimicry of Into Eternity's "Surrounded by Night", the track could easily be one of the band's greatest, as the frantic pace is matched only by the outstanding melody the guitars and vocals establish when they work around the title.
As I said, from the fourth track on the music does get a little less explosive, but it's not to say it's bad, by any means. "Legion" and "To End it All" exemplify the bands ability to execute and create at breakneck speeds, while "No Honor in Death" slows things down to a plodding pace. It's not until "Black Sun" that the album gets new life, mixing a morose and doomy temperament with intermittent franticness. It is, however, the last song on the album; a case of too little, too late, you could say.
While the first three and final tracks of the album are the most obvious highlights, Dismember
thrives off its consistency. It's reminiscent of all their past work without wholly regurgitating it, and while it's in a style they've been playing since the late 80s, it still has the ability to sound fresh, at least to a point. Sure, the middle chunk of the album stagnates a little, but you'll be too busy enjoying it to care. The leads are outstanding, and sometimes akin to what early-In Flames would have sounded like had it not been vividly fruit-tastic. The solos are not overly emphasised, though they remain creative and frantic without bordering on wanky or Kerry King-like. Finally, Matti Kärki's vocals are absolutely disgusting, his nasty shout occasionally accented with a filthy scowl or a dirty moan.
Dismember, one of the genre's most important and consistent bands, does what they do best: death metal. The album pulls no punches and wastes no time highlighting just how cancerously huge their balls really are. Malldwellers need not apply.