Review: Death metal exploded in the United States while grindcore dominated the UK and mainland Europe entrenched itself in a speed-death hybrid that owed most of its form to Sodom and Bathory, but in Scandinavia, a revolution in death metal was changing the music toward a further articulation of the melodic, narrative style. This compilation, while including bands from all over the world, applies itself to this sensibility instead of the rhythmic percussive ("Cannibal Corpse") style that was rising in popularity among proles, decorticated intellectuals and AA burnouts in the New World.
1. God macabre - Ashes of mourning life
2. Malediction - Longterm result
3. Rottrevore - Disembodied
4. Disembowelment - Extracted nails
5. Cadaver - Ins-through-mental
6. Crematory - Mastication
7. Pan-thy-monium - Klievieage
8. Cenotaph - Evoked doom
9. Hydr hydr - Revel in extinction
10. Therion - Time shall tell
1. God Macabre - Ashes of Mourning Life: Sounding very much like a hybrid between Entombed and early Cathedral, this explosive death metal track variegates its forward drive with allusions to the contemplative doomy moments that dominated more of the full album from this band. Similarities to early Amorphis can also be heard.
2. Malediction - Longterm Result: This undernoticed UK band contributes a track that combines the energetic linearity of American death metal with an underscoring of melody and structure that complements its prophetic, apocalyptic title. As Malediction recorded few final products, this rarity impresses the listener with its finished status: an introduction leads to an enigmatic rhythm riff whose progress is broken by analytic interludes which recontext it as a chorus, inverting the rock paradigm. One of the few selective and intelligent uses of keyboards in death metal occurs later in the track, which skitters between melodic lead riffing and aggro-necrotic power chording adroitly, without betraying any solidity of style. Oddly, this is most similar to early Therion of all the British bands.
3. Rottrevore - Disembodied: One of the interpretations that later became a thread of the development of death metal exhibits itself here, in the form of a song shaped around a percussive riff pattern with an infectious rhythm underscored in repetitive downstrokes. Like Kreator, or other end-cycle speed metal acts, the sequence of emphases in the main riff evokes the speech pattern of the primary chorus line and song title. A doomy counterpoint riff offsets the dominant direction, rendered in a fast strum with plenty of lead rhythm breaks in a style Napalm Death popularized, and the song grows linearly around these seeds. Although there is little to discover here, and it is one of the more forgettable tracks on this compilation, it is not incompetent although neither is it compelling.
4. Disembowelment - Extracted Nails: Another death metal/grindcore fusion, this track blasts through a series of power riffs at speed, with punctuated end-phrases creating a primitive expectation of future rhythmic counterpoint. This leads to a dirge cadence riff with overlaid three-note melody in a style Paradise Lost popularized, and slowly this pattern devolves in concentric circles of rhythmic breakdown to a the deathgrind impulse which began the song. Successive iterations of this cycle produce development in the melodic lead, but otherwise the song stagnates in an exact mating between inception and finish.
5. Cadaver - Ins-Through-Mental: The underappreciated technical death metal of Cadaver is not overstated enough to satisfy the progressive metal fans, nor understated enough for the average grubby pair of hands to pick up the CD. Subtlety defines the building of harmony around a pair of colliding melodies that underly the permutations of its major riffs, and while its simultaneous shifts in tempo and chorus melody produce a deliciously vertiginous sense of possibility, no thunderous buildup and minimizing denouement mark this song (or others from this band) as might please the people who buy Cannibal Corpse CDs. However, this song shows a mastery of musical artistry in that it generates a mood that is specific to itself, and from that aetheric ferment conjures spirits of meaning from the esoteric fringe of death metal.
6. Crematory - Mastication: Sounding like a fusion between early Carcass and Entombed, this sound thunders into place with an urgent tugging of rhythm and melodic fill, but develops from that into slamming grind which barely references the potential inherent in this sound. Easy listening, but for what?
7. Pan-Thy-Monium - Klievieage: Although far more topical than the tricked-out later output of this band, this track is standard bouncy heavy/speed metal dressed up with a doom metal introduction and chorus transition. Keyboards echo root notes unconvincingly, and the song devolves into bouncy Exhorder/Pantera style rhythm riffing. This band remains disappointing in that its embellishments are creative and in the hands of someone with an idea, could furnish elaboration to a song with direction.
8. Cenotaph - Evoked Doom: The grungy fusion of death metal and doom metal that defines the sound of this band from Mexico remains distinctive in that it allows embrace of a dark mood and within it, the injection of a refreshing and seemingly rare energy. In the poetic riff salad familiar to fans of bands like Incantation or Immolation, this song grinds between diverse tempos and develops a growing sense of imminence to descent. Melodic rhythm leads accent this tendency and give it the kind of careless esotericism favored later by Greek black metal bands.
9. Hydr Hydr - Revel in Extinction: Sounding quite a bit like a fusion between Dismember and Belial, this Norwegian band erects death metal rhythm structures around three-note melodies but does not manage the epic breaks in breathtaking simplicity that defined Belial. Its melodic open-strum transitions evoke comparisons to Necrophobic, but the whole of its song construction remains a variant on death metal standards and does not develop beyond a transition between two decontextualized points.
10. Therion - Time Shall Tell: Early Therion influenced both death metal and coming black metal through its use of melodic construction and a slower, trudging mood evocative of its Celtic Frost influence. This version of the title track of the EP of the same name is essentially identical to the album cut, and similarly alternates between a trudging peristalsis on the edge of predictable and archly conceptual riffs that frame a scene as an opera might, creating both dynamic room and forward expectation. The melodic arabesques leading to transitional somnolent brooding riffs underscore this song with a mystical beauty that frames its more traditional elements in a sense of mystery, hope and loss.