The Crypt: Digging Up Old Bones – December 2009
DISMEMBER-Like An Ever Flowing Stream-Nuclear Blast-1991
I tossed between this one and their Indecent and Obscene album. I chose this one, as this was the album that really established Dismember as a force to be reckoned with on the Swedish Death Metal scene. Dismember has not done a bad album. The only one I don’t care for is Death Metal, and that is only because the vocals are so low in the mix, they are hardly audible. Beyond that, ANYTHING from this band is essential listening. They, along with Entombed were cut from the same cloth for a long time. Both bands were formed out of the ashes of Nihilist. Dismember has stuck true to their beginnings, never straying from the original fomula that they mixed up and spat out to the world over 15 years ago. Entombed, on the other hand strayed from their “Left Hand Path“, losing their credibility towards being “essential” long ago. In all fairness, Entombed have pulled themselves back to righteousness over the past few years. However, Entombed’s To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth belongs in the same trash bin as Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake and Metallica’s Load, in my opinion.
But I digress. Back to Dismember. This is not a band you can listen to unaffected. Tons of bands claim to be most brutal, the sickest, the fastest/heaviest/most ball hair, whatever. Fuck that. Dismember ARE sick. Dismember were ALWAYS sick. They have always been brutal, but in a different way than most Death Metal bands. They didn’t downtune their guitars to the depths, the vocals were not of the “toilet bowl guttural” variety, they didn’t use blast beats. No…Dismember was fast, melodic, and raged with an agression not seen very often anymore. I have kept up with the band over the years, and they still have it in fucking spades. They have lost none of their hunger, anger or ability to kill. Their last record (Dismember, Regain Records) is just as feral as the one I am discussing here.
On Like An Ever Flowing Stream, they take all the elements that make up the band as a whole, shove them directly in your face, and you can’t do a thing about it. They are simply a band with the switch set to “kill”. The overall sound of this album is savage in every way, and still they manage to pull off ideas that challenge your emotions. One minute you are ready to tear someones head off, and the next minute (sometimes within the space of one song), they can put you in a mood so depressing, that you are ready to tear your own head off. Much of the credit for that can be offered up to Nicke Andersson (Entombed, ironically enough) for his guest-spot solos on most of this album, and the top notch songwriting from the band themselves.
Dismember were one of the bands that introduced the “chainsaw” guitar tone that is so popular with the Swedish bands. Locked in a midrange and outrageously distorted, you can tell by a riff that it is Dismember you are listening to. There is no mistaking that tone. As with all my Cryptic gems, you should find this at all cost. While you are at it, just spend the money to stock up on the entire Dismember catalog. It will be well worth pretty much anything you will pay for it. I could keep heaping praise on this album, but why? There is nothing I can say beyond what I already have that would do it justice, so I will just shut up now. Go. Find. Now.
FORBIDDEN–Forbidden Evil-Combat Records-1988
One of the Bay Area (San Francisco, California) Thrash scene’s finest, Forbidden really made a mark with this one. I originally had it on cassette years ago, and it blew my mind! It went out of print not long thereafter, and has been next to impossible to come by. But if you happen to find it in any form, snag it and hold onto it with everything you’ve got. Because if you want American Thrash Metal that purely fucking smokes, this is one of the finest examples. I lost the original cassette a few years ago, due to a hungry tape deck, so when I found the CD in a friend’s “get rid of pile”, I snapped it up quick.
Opening with the furious “Chalice of Blood”, the first thing you will notice immediately following the opening riff is the talent exhibited by vocalist Russ Anderson. This man could challenge Geoff Tate (Queesnryche) for altitude and lung capacity in his clean voice, and had more charge and balls in his standard delivery (Sort of a singing/screaming/barking hybrid) than just about anyone else in the genre. Track 3, “Eyes of Glass” showcases his melodic, cleaner style. However, after the guitar solo in the middle he lets out with a scream that still manages to chill me years after hearing it for the first time. The scream hits right at 5:17, coming out of nowhere and smacking you right in the face. As far as vocalists in Metal go, Russ Anderson sits comfortably within my top 5 favorites of all time.
The guitars are amazing on this album. Immensely talented and criminally underrated, the guitar tandem of Glen Avelais and Craig Locicero is unmatched in terms of originality, composition, and excecution. This is a very guitar heavy album, and it sounds immaculate. The riffs are complex enough to keep ANY ear busy for a long time, wondering not “What is going on here?”, but actually “How the FUCK did they pull that off?” Let’s go back to the aforementioned “Eyes of Glass” for a second. These guys throw a complete mindfuck in the middle of this song that has kept me backing it up over and over trying to figure it out. It comes in at 3:37, and is gone by 3:56, never to be heard again. It sounds like a simple scale, but when you time it out and listen to it, there doesn’t seem to be any way that many notes can fit into that small of a space. Then of course, after that comes the insane soloing. Any guitarist should check these guys out. You will be amazed.
Bass-wise, it is a pretty standard “follow the guitar” school of thought, but still quite good. The biggest surprise Forbidden had hidden away within its ranks was, of course, their drummer: Paul Bostaph. For those that don’t know (How you couldn’t know I have no clue…Get the fuck outta that cave!), Mr. Bostaph went on to be a long standing member of Slayer after the exit of Dave Lombardo. So with his sticks in Forbidden, you KNOW the drumming kills! ‘Nuff said.
The bottom line? For fans of American Thrash Metal, this is a must have. See it on ebay for $40? Buy it. Friend has a copy that he/she doesn’t listen to? Steal it and give it the attention and appreciation it deserves. See it in the store by some stroke of luck? Put the new Flyleaf disc back. I know, it’s a guilty pleasure for you, but the Flyleaf will still be there next week. This won’t. Trust me on this one. You will enjoy Forbidden MUCH more. AND you can show it off in public. Can’t do THAT with Flyleaf now, can you?