When I woke up this morning and saw on GMA that Dismember had split up, I naturally turned to my daily resource for early 90s Swedish Death Metal. I almost spit out my coffee when I saw Cobras was silent on the subject! Either he dropped the fucking ball big time or he knows something he's not telling us. Either way, I will pick up the slack.
The obvious reference points here are Grave, Entombed, and maybe even BloodBath, which Shelby already schooled you on here. Dismember formed in 1988 and dropped a couple hyphy demos before releasing their high water mark, Like an Ever Flowing Stream, in May 1991. Besides ripping everyone's faces off completely with its monolithic riffs, Stream did 20 years ago what legions of NWOOSDM bands are doing now: downtuned guitars, analog gear, organic drum tones, gnarly writing. To round out the package, it's got an intro consisting of water sampled at a low bit rate, thunderclaps, and some howling which is always a surefire way to kick things into gear. It even utilizes strategic deployment of the synth choir. Stream caught the attention of the Magistrates Court in Great Yarmouth (which I'm guessing has something to do with England) which took some time out of their busy day to debate whether the lyrics to “Skin Her Alive” were meant to inspire violence. They decided they didn't, but they were wrong.
Listening to it today reveals what seem to be sonic clichés until you remember these heshers were some of the first. For example, literally, at one point, some Swede goes “From dream to dream, you have always been...like an everflowing stream” before tearing into a riff that sounds like you're leveling in Blade Runner circa 1997 wiping Dorito dust on your sweatpants. The record is almost over at this point, so this little poetic interlude is clearly an attempt to pass the album off as a sort of suite or concept record. But still, FUCK YEAH, dude! I have always been like an everflowing stream!
Matti Karki's vocals are plenty brutal and delivered in a Scandanavian accent in case you were wondering about his authenticity. He also does that thing where he inserts the word “fucking” to give certain lines those extra two syllables; this is an OSDM hallmark as you know. Finally, in “In Death's Sleep,” he whispers “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” exercising his right as death metal progenitor to repurpose Christian slogans as satanic fodder. Could he be the first to have said “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” in a metal song? Probably not, but maybe!
From there, Dismember went a little soft with a spate of albums that started to sound samey and a little heavy on the dual leads. You'll be listening to one of their mid-career records, enjoying a perfectly serviceable grindy number, when all of a sudden you've got this Iron Maiden solo comin' at ya. Which is fine I guess, but it's disorienting if you're an older fella.
Their fourth full-length, Death Metal, has its share of boosters out there, but it loses points for its boring name in my book. You can't call an album Death Metal – like it's supposed to be the definitive manifesto for the genre or something – in 1997 and not expect to catch some shit. In 2008, Dismember released Dismember, which is another great album and album name. Who waits 15+ years to drop the eponymous record?
Let's see, what else do you need to know? Oh, I dunno, only that these guys shared members with Carnage (which COBRAS learned you on back in '08) which has connections to CARCASS that I'm too lazy to get into. Ask The Thing That Should Not Be to tell you some time.
That's it for my first blog post. How did I do? Seems long.
Like An Everflowing Stream: HERE
Homeboy just about summed it up already, but DoomUnicorn is the first in what appears to be several new additions to the Illogical Contraption Writer's Team. We welcome him with open arms, and urge you to do the same by commenting extensively on this thorough and well-written post.