Review Summary: A jumbled up mess of a demo that is only listenable for one or two features.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Immortal initially rose to fame as a second wave black metal band that deviated away from the norms of the genre by replacing the usual tremolo picked insanity with some thrash-based riffing for their later works and completely ditching the Satan obsessed nonsense that infests the genre with songs that paint images of snowy landscapes. What many who have heard of the band will be unaware of however is that the band initially started out as a death metal band named Amputation, and that their first release under the Immortal mantle was also a death metal demo entitled Suffocate The Masses.
For the most part this demo is nothing more than a piece of history for none but the most avid fan of Immortal. The production values of this release are next to nothing as it was recorded in the garage of drummer Armagedda's home. Making up the rest of the band are vocalist/bassist Abbath and Jorn Tonsberg on rhythm with Demonaz taking the lead work. The most noticeable changes from the later releases by this band is the vocal performance from Abbath which is actually an incredibly strong series of inhuman death grunts, and an influx of lightning fast guitar solos. Across the three songs on this demo tape are numerous quick toneless lead runs and a never ending stream of tremolo picked rhythm parts, with some fast as hell blast beats and Abbath roaring over the top of it all, which lasts for a total of twelve minutes.
The music itself is very basic death metal with a predictable formula of verse-verse-solo-outro that makes the songs incredibly repetitive which is not helped by the lack of variation in the riffing. The only variety that can be found on this album at all is in the drumming which quickly jumps from a slower more rhythmic style of playing to the crazy blast beats that the band later became known for. If it were not for Armagedda's performance on this demo it would not be close to listenable despite the obvious proficiency that the rest of the band has. The one highlight moment of the demo is fouind in the opening song, Suffocate The Masses, in which Abbath unleashes an absolute monster scream around forty five seconds in that never ceases to amaze. His performance for the rest of the demo is pretty monotonous but clearly very strong, with his growls being unintelligable but still fantastic to listen to. Sadly these are the demos only redeeming factors as the leads are completely toneless and too many in number and the riffs are the same thing over and over again. For fans of Immortal's later work this will definitely come as a surprise as all the band does on this demo is tremolo pick over and over again.
Sadly this demo is not anywhere near what one should expect from one of the premiere black metal bands of today and certainly one of the most varied. It is listenable enough if only to hear the drum performance and the vocals on the song Suffocate The Masses but aside from that this is as plain as it gets. Distinguishing one riff from another is virtually mission impossible due to the awful production job and the bass work is completely inaudible, leaving the monotonous guitars to carry the demo which they fail to do.