Various Artists:Swedish Death Metal

swedishdeathmetal
By Kevin Stewart-Panko

So, you’ve read Daniel Ekeroth’s book of the same name and if you weren’t a tape trading nerd back in the day you might be wondering – assuming you’ve never heard of the internet – what all these other bands outside of Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed, Grave, At the Gates, Dissection and Tiamat sound like, or if they just sound like less polished versions of the unpolished days of Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed, Grave, At the Gates, Dissection and Tiamat?

This massive three-disc compilation gives the listener a sonic taster of all the flowery praise thrown around Ekeroth’s book and if that listener is a seasoned Sverige-phile, then Swedish Death Metal Compilation acts as a 3+ hour trip down the left hand path of memory lane. It’s all here, the good, bad, ugly, awesome, marginal and downright terrible. It’d be pointless to individually pick apart this collection’s 52 tracks because it’s not so much the quality of the music that’s of importance here, but the vibe, metallic archeology and overall history lesson this provides with disc one featuring demo tracks from more recognizable names, disc two highlighting more professionally recorded works that originally appeared on albums and EPs and disc three covering the lesser-knowns and never-beens.

Observations:

Swedish death metal was not all 100% awesome as it has often made out to have been. There are a fair share of pretty terrible bands and terrible sounding demos.

Entombed/Nihilist were indeed the undisputed kings of Swedish death metal at the time. Please make sure that qualifier is always present when making that proclamation.

Therion used to be so fucking awesome.

It’s too bad Carnage, Sorcery, Tribulation, Nirvana 2002, Eternal Darkness, Uncanny, Crematory and Toxaemia were all never as big as their potential hinted at.

So many people interviewed in the book go on about Mefisto being seminal to the creation of death metal in Sweden, but they basically listened to Show No Mercy a lot. Also, I have an original copy of their Megalomania demo around the house somewhere and, no, don’t look for it on eBay any time soon.

It’s pretty sweet to hear an insanely raw version of Dismember’s “Dismembered.”

I somehow own all of Desultory’s full-lengths and I don’t remember any of them sounding as weak as they do here.

Man, Expulsion had improved.

Man, General Surgery hasn’t changed much at all in almost 20 years.

Did Tomas Lindberg and Nicke Andersson ever play in a band together? If not, they should have.

Ulf Cederlund really got around back in the 80s/early 90s.

Best song/demo title: Traumatic’s A Perfect Night to Masturbate.

Give it up for the bands that are still kicking it like it’s still 1991: Evocation and Séance, take a bow.

Has Furbowl ever adequately defined and/or defended their choice of band names?

(Prohecy Productions)
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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.