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...and usually the start is the best time for a band. Ideas are fresh, concepts are newly developed, maybe slightly rough but with more of that newbie, inexperienced touch. Since this split contains the oldest material from both bands involved, this is the best way to hear them in this inexperienced shell.
Lymphatic Phlegm, usually known for their reverby sound and relentless drum programming, sound very different to what they do on "Show-Off Cadavers: The Anatomy of Self-Display" (2007). Production is drier, the guitars bleed into each other (or maybe there's only one in the mix?). The bass has a very unusual sound (at first listen, a few months ago, I thought it was a type of vocals until I actually listened hard) and is very audible. Vocals are typically the same, pitch-shifted speech of all following releases. Song structures are longer (in fact this contains nearly all of their longest songs to date, not included samples) and the riffing style is considerably different. Still reverby and weird, but much more traditional goregrind.
Drums, though as fake sounding as always, actually sound more natural in the tape-hiss mixing. This actually doesn't sound that horrible considering its primitive background. Several flairs of guitar squeals, varied fills and generally catchy riffs mean that most of these tracks can actually be recognised by name (unlike the multitude on their full length "Pathogenesis Infest Phlegmsepsia"). Of course it contains the obligatory "person gasping and retching and screaming for two minutes whilst something ominous sloshes around in the background" sample - more surprisingly, the track "Premature Detachment Of The Normally Inserted Placenta" contains session vocals more likened to a harsh Jeff Walker screech, I don't know who did them, but these are the only non-shifted vocals present in the bands entire catalogue (as far as I'm aware). Overall, I'd be pretty accurate when I say this is the most distinct Phlegm release, and my personal favourite. That bass is just so weird, and the general vibes from the songs are filthy.
Flesh Grinder (a band I detest for their rather stupid imagery and song titles after "Anatomy and Surgery") also included a previously-released demo tape on this split. Mutual agreement? Who knows. The title makes a bundle of sense - it really showcases the transition between Rotten Process, through Anatomy and Surgery, and into S.P.L.A.T.T.E.R.
Production on the first half (consisting of the four unfortunately-named tracks from 1994's "Rotten Process") is of very dry production, and speed is the first thing you notice. Imagine Reek of Putrefaction without the wetness. The vocals are near unintelligible, a hoarse series of layered growls, but the music is very similar - shifting between blastbeats and groovy sections, randomly (yet deliberately) placed solos. Fifteen minutes of unslowing grindcore, pretty simple. Is that a bit of General Surgery worship in the second track, or was that my imagination?
Next comes three tracks from "Anatomy and Surgery". Differences slither almost immediately to the surface - the wetter mixing, lower volumes, more intelligible vocals and slower drums. The song-titles (and presumably the lyrics, I haven't received my physical copy of Anatomy yet) are longer, not being too different from Lymphatic Phlegm. Much better, as a personal preference, I've always hated randomly picked gory/offensive words being slammed together to form song names. Only one (long) intro sample for the whole release? Unusual, or perhaps I've been listening to too much Phlegm. Insert the Carcass-worship vocals.
Finally comes the track (a preview) from S.P.L.A.T.T.E.R. Piano? That sets the mood for the following chaos. The mixing hasn't drastically changed since Anatomy, the song title/lyrics begin to show signs of immature pornogrind influence (well, we had a good run with Anatomy, I suppose), but the music is pretty similar. The drum and bass solo section in the middle is a nice addition, not usually heard in goregrind, with the second sample of the FG side. It almost makes up for the title.
Overall, the whole release is pretty unique in comparison to latter releases from both bands, but that doesn't mean it's their best. Just that it's that kind of release which showed how different the band's first ideas were in comparison to their "golden years". The decent length and variation of songs means it has replay value (unlike some ten minute slam fests) and, as I'm told it's quite rare now, so try and grab a copy if you can, even if you have to do what I did and stay up all night to make sure I won the auction on ebay. The things I do for awesome music...
This is likely how anyone normal will get to hear Lymphatic Phlegm's first demo; it was originally released only on tape, but the same tracks are available on this split with fellow Brazilian goregrinders Flesh Grinder. The material from both bands is predictably raw and sloppy, but musically this split CD is surprisingly solid throughout, faltering only occasionally and by and large presenting some spectacular ultra-raw goregrind for the dedicated fan of the style. As Lymphatic Phlegm's first release, this is of course of significant historical importance to the band, and Flesh Grinder's side isn't half bad either for a mostly unknown group. All in all, it's a good item to grab for any goregrind fan.
Lymphatic Phlegm's earliest material can only be described as 'horrific'. In absolute contrast to the clean, ultra-clinical style of later material which is laced with strange riffs from more traditional styles of metal, this is pure basement goregrind from the depths of blood-drenched hell, almost completely musically incoherent and noisy but with a distinct aura of malevolence. The riffs are still the streamlined tremolo configurations of later work, but in this case the melodies are pure goregrind and taken from the Carcass handbook. A noisy, explosive drum machine rocks its way through the tracks like it'll fall apart at any moment while the heavily distorted and pitch-shifted vocals maniacally gurgle over everything. There's still the machinelike song structures that Lymphatic Phlegm would come to be known for, but in this case they're so caked in distortion and madness it's almost impossible to tell where one part ends and the next begins.
The production is raw but presentable, and you can hear everything fairly clearly, but everything has so much reverb that the songs become completely cacophonous and nightmarish, and you get lost in these weird medicolegal labyrinths that probably only make sense in an autopsy room. It's incredibly vile sounding and the distinctly uncomfortable horror samples actually add significantly to the atmosphere; the Lymphatic Phlegm side as a whole is probably the most uncomfortable goregrind this side of Catasexual Urge Motivation, and this is what makes it so mandatory: not that the songs are particularly memorable or the music is executed very well, but the atmosphere is, intentionally or unintentionally, filled with absolute dread and sickness in every note.
Lymphatic Phlegm was never this raw or insane again, so the dedicated fan of the band (and there are certainly a few) would want to pick this up. Those new to the artist would be recommended to try one of their more accessible full-lengths, because listening to this first would likely scare off anyone not fully into underground goregrind. If you can stomach it, though, I highly recommend this material; it's some of the sickest I've ever heard in the goregrind scene and more bands should be trying to sound like this.
Flesh Grinder's side is mostly preoccupied with a noisy, MDK-like style of goregrind. The tracks on their side of the split were clearly recorded at different times and with different recording gear, and it ranges from utterly horrible basement-level production to mediocre studio work. The music gets better with the production; the first stuff on the split is unmemorable in the same way that MDK is, being too preoccupied with being noisy and extreme and not enough with writing actual songs, and the ultra-dry production that obfuscates the riffing doesn't help the matter. The later material is much stronger and what makes the Flesh Grinder side worth listening to.
When Flesh Grinder gets decent production and loses the noisecore influence, that's where they really shine. Crafting some very solid grooving riffs along with vicious tremolo/blast setups, the band plays a traditional but still engaging breed of death/goregrind with a pretty natural songwriting flair in the vein of early Carcass. Clearly 'Reek Of Putrefaction' has been in the band's collective CD player a few times, as the band's sound is clearly taken heavily from that album moreso than 'Symphonies Of Sickness'. Even at Flesh Grinder's most professional, this is certainly on the raw end of goregrind and fairly sloppy, but it has its charm although those not versed in the goregrind scene will probably not find anything particularly worthwhile about it.
Goregrind fans are recommended to check this out; Flesh Grinder writes some catchy and solid songs that will be an enjoyable listen for just about anyone involved in the scene. Those who don't like it won't find anything to change their mind here, but I doubt that such people would ever come across this CD in the first place; it's something of an esoteric item.
Lymphatic Phlegm's side is certainly the more memorable and important of the two, but Flesh Grinder's music is good enough to make this worth the price. Goregrind fans should give this a listen and explore the discographies of both bands; the material here is only a hint of things to come from each. On its own though, it's incredibly violent and brooding music, full of dark atmospheres and bizarre musical ideas that should certainly turn a few heads.