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"Like an Everflowing Stream" might not have been the first release to portray the Swedish death metal style, but it filled the slight voids that, in my opinion, "Left Hand Path" or even "Dark Recollections" had showed a year before and pushed every aspect of the music to a peak that is yet to be matched. The production, which was in charge of Tomas Skogsberg, is spectacular, fitting the music perfectly. For 1991, the sound is pure ear candy, also taking into account that the band was releasing their debut album.
From the awe inspiring cover art crafted by Dan Seagrave, to every single note played in the riffs, solos and leads, the album is death metal perfection and then some, redefining everything I love about such an extreme genre of music. Yes, it has riffs that will make your adrenaline and testosterone (even females will develop it with such mayhemic guitar-work) reach a new level. It has the eerie solos that will rip your face off, melodies that add some true emotion, while never really getting anywhere close to the Gothenburg style, something Dismember always did well in their 23 years of a consistent career.
There are only a few seconds of relative calmness, which are in the beginning, although they foreshadow the oncoming massacre that this album is. Just 25 seconds into the first track and you will already be hooked and headbanging like crazy! There is simply no option, apart from listening throughout the whole record (and then repeat endlessly), since every moment is memorable. The riffs and leads will start to perfectly portray the dark atmosphere that the cover creates. There is thrashiness in most of the riffs, which combined with a delightful guitar tone (imagine the walking war-tank of the "Massive Killing Capacity" cover at its top form, running through a Scandinavian forest and with a desire to destroy everything that is ahead of it, until it reaches the sinister landscape shown in "Like an Everflowing Stream" cover) , makes this album a one of a kind listening experience.
Another aspect that I really like about this record is the vast variety that the songs provide, each one of them being identifiable from one another. The longer tracks, "Override of the Overture," "Dismembered," and "In Death's Sleep," are full of relentless, sick riffs. They are atmospheric when mid-paced and brutal at faster speeds (particularly the melodic intro and solo at the start of the iconic fifth song). The last song contains some glorious doom chords that work wonders. Incredibly fast paced songs like "Soon to be Dead" and "Skin Her Alive" are truly intense and bludgeoning, containing awesome solos, but don't worry, the lasting impact of the tracks is not compromised at all. Matti's growls sound so bloodthirsty in "Skin Her Alive", as if a beast was roaring from the cliff that appears on the background of the cover. The vocals sound kind of distant, like if it was the result of an echo produced by a ravenous ghoul that is persecuting you. Kärki's beastly growls pronounce the following lyrics, which will stick to the listener's head due to its memorability.
"Haunted by my conscious
Living my life in hell
Didn't (fucking) hesitate
When I moved in for the kill".
The remaining songs "Bleed for Me", "And So is Life" and "Sickening Art" contain more thrashing energy than all the retro thrash bands combined. Especially, the fourth track is a highlight (as if there really were, because everything is remarkable) and it perfectly represents what the lyrics say. For instance, it starts as if a candle was being lit, illuminating a dark labyrinth that has fire all around it and voices that serve as a prelude of a tragedy to come (in this part of the song, some menacing solos can be heard and then the riffs come at a mid pace). A blasphemous and cruel beast (represented by Matti Kärki) prepares to fall into oblivion and finally die, which is when the riffs release everflowing thrash. At around 1:21, immediately after Matti's coarse growl pronounces "And I'm rotting with belief", some of the most twisted leads I've ever heard take the front seat. That section of the song tries to illustrate how the beast, even though admittedly in grief and full of regret, wants to escape its fate. Finally, after a mid paced thrash bridge, the songs recovers its blazing speed once again, where the beast accepts its death with open arms.
The lyrics and songwriting, as previously mentioned, are compelling and adequately reflect the violent nature of this kind of music. The drums, delivered by Fred Estby, are intense and proficient all the way through, still not stealing the predominant and brilliant role that the guitars provide. The bass is omnipresent, adding a thicker, heavier sound to this monstrous piece. It gallops in a barbaric and monolithic fashion with no intention of giving the listener a slight rest from the realms of utter heaviness. Nicke Anderson's job also has to be highlghted, because he contributed with the best guitar leads he has ever crafted, even better than the ones present in "Left Hand Path" or "Clandestine".
You can't possibly go wrong with this record if you are a fan of death metal and particularly of the Swedish style. That is why I always return to it after listening to a mediocre or unfulfilling death metal composition, since it never fails to please my cravings for sheer aggressiveness and musical excellence. Words can't describe the profound appreciation I feel for "Like an Everflowing Stream" and I can't ignore the influence it had on my musical taste about a year ago when I first heard it. It's the first metal record I have ever owned and when it comes to death metal, it remains unmatched for me (or at least I haven't heard any album that surpasses it to my ears).
If you still don't own it (you better buy it ASAP!), you should get the reissue containing 4 bonus tracks. "Deathevocation" has a hell of a malevolent and weird sounding solo, "Defective Decay" has great thrash riffs with a different vocal approach from Mr. Kärki, being much more demonic and brutal sounding, which sounds killer to my ears. "Torn Apart" has a more precarious production (similar to the one used in "Indecent & Obscene"), although it would've been a worthy addition to the original tracklist and the last song, "Justifiable Homicide" (released four years later in the band's third full length "Massive Killing Capacity") is the weakest track and the only one that doesn't deserve the title of a masterpiece.
"Dismembered" remains my favorite song of what is perhaps the best debut of a death metal band ever, and it's my favorite track from Dismember, because it basically offers everything that a Dismember fan could want in a song. It has timeless melodies, transcendental solos, insane vocals, unearthly riffs and a perfect cohesion that borders on a death metal utopia. "Like an Everflowing Stream" holds my highest praise as every metalhead should.