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What a demo! If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that their last tape was already a major improvement over the first, but this one is simply jaw-dropping. No more Carnage songs here. "Reborn in Blasphemy" is indeed the reborn face of Dismember and the beginnings of the band that we all know today. This is where Matti Kärki enters the picture, and I'm convinced that anything he fucking touches turns to gold. He's done it for Carnage, Carbonized and General Surgery; and beginning with this release he would do the same for Dismember, taking them to the highest tier of death metal.
Most of the music from this tape was later re-recorded for the "Like an Ever Flowing Stream" LP. You'd think that these earlier versions of the songs would pale in comparison, but that's definitely not the case here. The songs are played with just as much heart and conviction as on the album, and in some cases the demo versions actually sound better! One element that's definitely better on this demo is the production - it's simply perfect. As much as I love Dismember's debut record, I always felt that its production was somewhat lacking in heaviness in terms of the drums and guitars (especially after hearing the intensity of "Dark Recollections"). The rhythm guitars are much more pronounced here when compared with the album, while the double bass drum is stronger and sounds excellent. Matti's vocals sound amazing as well. His style is very similar to what's on the LP, but he frequently likes to take his voice into a deeper range as he did with Carnage and Carbonized. This demo provides a good balance of both of these singing styles.
"Reborn in Blasphemy" opens with one of the best and most beatiful instrumental intros I've ever heard. The guitar leads are monumental and paint majestic landscapes in your mind as you listen to them. The demo version is played a tad slower than its album counterpart, but the rhythm guitars are much higher in the mix which gives a new dimension to this classic composition. The stream of captivating melodies eventually leads up to "Dismembered". The opening of this song throws you back ten feet into the air with its intense blastbeats and brutality. It continues on at a steady fast pace with some excellent double bass kicking midway through the track. There's a crazy, psychedelic scream soon afterwards that sounds really fucked up! I later learned that this part was performed by a girl called Marika. That's a good thing, because I was starting to get concerned that Matti lost his balls there for a second.
Next up is "Sickening Art". This song also appeared on the great "Projections of a Stained Mind" compilation CD, and was of course ultimately re-recorded on "Like an Ever Flowing Stream". I'm not gonna lie to you here. The demo version of this track completely destroys the one on the album. The solos (courtesy of Nicke from Entombed!) are played with so much more spirit and emotion, and the heavy tone of the rhythm guitars is face-melting. This is probably my favorite Dismember song, now that I think about it. It's just so damn catchy and perfect. All death metal should sound like this.
The last song is a re-recorded version of "Defective Decay" from Dismember's debut demo. It opens with some grindcore riffs along with a brief blasting section, before slowing tempo later on. There's a very bizarre guitar solo towards the end that will give you goosebumps. Overall, this version is much tighter musically than its predecessor, but doesn't impact the listener as much as the previous two songs did.
This is one of the best demo tapes to ever grace the death metal genre. If you've never heard it, put it on the list of things to do before you die.