Europe is known for many things. Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. The Beatles. Blackadder. Julius Caesar, the inspiration for the Fallout character you love to hate. Putin. Adolf Hitler. Some of these are good, some not so good, as is life itself. All of the European things I just named represent changes. I'm not talking about Bowie or Sabbath. "Changes," what does the word mean? A change can be good or bad. One man's progress is another man's step backwards. Artistic expression is a tricky thing - do you keep rocking and stay simplistic, or do you diversify your sound at the risk of turning into a wimpy band that doesn't rock whatsoever?
One thing Europe is known for is its other-worldly, gloomy, and at times transcendent brand of death metal. Scandinavia in particular had some of the craziest stuff around. While Florida death metal and New York death metal evokes images of camo shorts and hot dog grillout parties, Scandinavia takes the listener on a mystical ride of mysticism, the pungent farts of viking lords can be smelled, it's like getting blasted in the face and it sticks to your face, you will smell like farts all day. Many bands started off making killer death metal and then turned into weirdo mellow gothic crap. Therion and Sentenced come to mind immediately. One such band is Sweden's Tiamat. Most Tiamat fans, however few there may be, will tell you the early material is crap, but I feel this is an indication of a serious lack of appreciation for what makes pre-Opethian death metal so damn good. Enter the world of Sumerian Cry
Detractors of this album will tell you it lacks the experimentation of later releases, but is experimentation always good? For that matter, songs like "Evilized" have bluesy parts that would make Robert Johnson proud, quite unique for 1990 death metal when bands like Cancer and Deicide were on the scene making beer fueled insanity. No beer here, this is mead, and I am drawing a pentagram on a sheet of notebook paper trying to summon crazy Gods and curse the fools with my evil powers. Musically, this is one of the earliest examples of a gap being bridged from the standard traditional doom style and the death doom/doom death stuff that would later be popularized by bands like Paradise Lost and Katatonia. It's simply menacing, haunting, gloomy, atmospheric - what is there not to love here? The vocals actually rule, the growls really make you think there's a demon in the room, sometimes his growl is but a whisper which adds to the craziness.
Despite its 43 minute runtime, the album manages to be entertaining throughout, providing enough "experimental" flair with enough crushing riffs and doomgloom hell-sanity demonancy to keep the true death metal fan on the edge of his toilet, because if you only know the Hot Topic Tiamat stuff, this album will send you running to the toilet as the turd of surprise tries to pry its way out of your butthole. Sumerian Cry
is an album that would likely be better received in general if it was their sole release and they had changed their name to "Mystical Flower Children" after this album. Many fans of the later stuff routinely crap on this album, but that's the Swedish death metal equivalent of a bunch of Seasons
posers dissing Show No Mercy