Review: These three bands represented the cutting edge of post-1985 death metal, building on the earlier work of bands like Hellhammer, Bathory and Possessed in whom previous styles of metal and punk were unevenly hybridized. While two of the three are all but forgotten, the influence of these demos was instrumental in solidifying death metal as a style.
Necrovore - obviously influenced to the largest degree by Possessed, this band broke out of the speed metal song structure and pace of that band and re-infused it with energetic punk into a style of occult metal that sounded otherworldly. Vocals are higher-pitched and less enunciative than those of Possessed, and the pace of both strumming and overall song development accelerates to an alarmingly chaotic level. Songs pick up on the raw energy riff of punk, spinning two notes into a vortex of fury, then ascending to more articulate riffs that in complementary pairs resolve the song. From the more adventurous metal of the day, Necrovore pick up on a sense of grand staging, as in Wagnerian opera, in which songs dramatically transition between radical opposites in a symbolism of emotional change related to the topic of each. The result is primitive in rendering but complex in abstraction, and it was this balance that influenced other bands to the later form of occult death metal. The influence of this band on genre-definers like Morbid Angel cannot be underestimated. To a contemporary listener, this might sound like a hybrid of Havohej and Massacra.
1. Necrovore - Mutilated Death
2. Necrovore - Slaughtered remains
3. Necrovore - Divus de mortuus
4. Necrovore - Toxic Decay
5. Incubus - God died on his knees
6. Incubus - Reanimator's mutilations
7. Incubus - Engulfed in unspeakable horror
8. Morbid Angel - Thy kingdom come
9. Morbid Angel - Abominations
10. Morbid Angel - Blasphemy of the holy ghost
Incubus - Sounding like a more metal version of Master, this band emphasizes fast and desperate riffing with a dark minor key edge, over which shouted hoarse vocals follow patterns established by Slayer and Hellhammer in a pace so fast words tumble over one another in a descent into chaos. Songs also present themselves as theatre: clear introductions lead into concentric cycles of riffs which converge on a central point that minimizes all thematic elements into a simple riff pattern which builds to a conclusion like an action movie, then decays into a restatement of theme and exits. Comparing this band to a faster version of Benediction is not unfair, nor is noting how many devices Morbid Angel appropriated from these songs. Less finely recorded or articulated than their debut, this demo provides better insight into the viral load of this fundamental band.
Morbid Angel - what is most impressive in contrast to these other two is the rhythmic flexibility of these genre-founders: the linearity of punk mates with the adroit sense of timing and its mutation that infected later quasi-progressive metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. These songs are much denser, using several musical devices (harmonization, layering, offset pace) per song to achieve a greater sense of immersion in a different world. While on the surface this music resembles the rest of the compilation, there is a greater correspondence between details and the whole here, with the former serving the latter well. Resulting composites of song sound complete and self-evident, and despite being less alienated in extremity than the other bands, they concentrate this alienation into a descriptive sense more than a cry of protest, and the result propelled this band along with Deicide to being the defining voice of American death metal.
Why listen to this CD in the current time? After all, we've progressed further, in theory. While indie hipsters and grizzled underground fanatics alike will talk about influences, the truth is far simpler: these works of art are eternal in capturing a sense of indescribable dissidence. After metal protested the obvious dangers of one political or social movement after another, the death metal generation learned and instead resisted the whole of modern society by positing an alternate, occult world. In the eyes of early death metal, modern society -- and in any age, most people -- is possessed by fear of death and insignificance, and thus creates an illusory world of morality, equality, money and popularity. The occult, as an esoteric and dangerous inclination, represents everything that is both opposed to and an escape from the type of thinking that typifies a modern society. For musical articulation of that concept, these demos remain eternal.