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I have recently received this is a physical format, so I thought I would commemorate by writing about it. I have owned this demo in digital format like most people into death metal for quiet some time, but was never able to get a hold of it in any sort of format. The format I got was a re-release with Morbid’s ‘December Moon’ on it as well, and I thought I should get this for both sides, for it never hurts to have another copy of ‘December Moon’ lying around. At any rate it has hardly been digitally enhanced just digitized, so it is close if not identical to the version floating about on the internet.
I guess talking about ‘December Moon’ is a good way to talk about Mortem’s ‘Slow Death’ as well, so this will be one of those comparative reviews.
The sound is a lot dingier than on the legendary Morbid EP, and a lot more rehearsal. In fact in recording quality I can only link it to Immortal’s demos, or perhaps even when they were still called Amputation. It has the same thick, distorted, heavy bass sound that wavers and reverberates through out the entire demo, sometimes to the detriment of the other frequencies. Still, I like that bass sound, I think it is pure fucking evil, some notes, like a particularly disharmonic chord for example, will sound so sinister it is unbelievable, however the very low frequencies also kinda just collapse in on themselves. The songs are tight,. And the guitar work is pretty good in that it is non-standard riffing and song structures, although they do tend to stop before any of the changes happen, so you get some stops in between riffs that is kinda amateurish and not really there for any reason. But the riffs themselves are real sweet, even if the boys still lacked good songwriting skills a this point, but in death metal, as always, riffs are what matter, and thus this can be overlooked. This material also reminds a bit of the Dismember rehearsal footage as well. It is good demo days Scandinavian death metal, reminiscent of the weirder, more black metal and satanic oriented bands. The riffing is really weird on here, and the drums are well executed but are just trying to keep up with the guitarist who is working his balls off. Other than that it sounds like the Morbid EP.
Wow indeed. Mortem's "Slow Death" demo is by far some of the most raw and violent sounding death metal I've ever heard. I've heard this described as being "brilliant" and seeing as the band's members would go on to offer their talents in such diversely musical groups as the progressive and avant-garde Arcturus and the folk-black metal of Satyricon, I assumed this would have a bit of an experimental nature to it. I was in for quite a surprise.
As far as the style, I could only describe it as being pretty much standard simplistic blackened-death metal, with speeds ranging from mid-paced to all out blasting. Production-wise, the recording isn't too bad for a demo; it sounds like it was recorded in a dungeon but the guitar and drums can be heard rather well....that is until the vocals kick in, and here's where a good amount of this demo's power lies. The vocals are absolutely insane - a hellish, frantic howling drenched in distortion and reverb that almost totally drowns out the other instruments. Some may find these maniacal shrieks to be annoying and too over the top, but personally, I think they give this demo a sound, style, and intensity that few can match.
Highly reccomended for rare demo collectors or anyone who simply loves their death metal with a chaotic, raw, gritty, underproduced sound.
Mortem are a true legend in the underground scene at the end of the 80s, well known especially for having in the line up the great drummer Hellhammer. In 1989 they released their only effort called “Slow Death”: a true raw mixture of black/death metal in old style. Even if they were not too original, these songs are truly evil in their sound.
After a short introduction made of some synth noises and human screams, “Mutilated Corpse” track begins with a dark arpeggio and a mid tempo, very similar to De Mysteriis D.O.M Sathanas. There are a lot of influences from early Mayhem and the Hellhammer way of playing is already original and recognizable, still in its characteristic style. The tempo changes a lot and the production is not great, so sometimes you can listen to a death riffs and other times to a black one.
The up tempos parts are always well balanced with deadly, rotten mid tempo. The only thing I really dislike in this demo are the vocal lines: regurgitations from a sink…total metallic and chaotic…you cannot understand anything. “Slow Death” song is truly thrash in its up tempo while in the blast beats it is pure grind. “Agonize To Suicide” is really good during the beginning but when the vocals enter it’s a mess…they are even too loud in the distortion, damaging the soung and covering the other instruments that weren't already clean enough…
It’s hard for me at this point give a mark to it…the doomy/rotten atmospheres are very good, the up tempo parts are quite good while the blast beats are very chaotic. The songwriting is not excellent, a bit childish yet and the vocals are terrible…a good thing is the true evil atmosphere you can breath in the songs along with some, goodish riffs and the Hellhamer way of playing, but it’s not enough in my opinion.
This is a piece of death-black history. The demo (and the ep-pressing that I could obtain luckily) contains 5 death metal tracks with a very sinister atmosphere. The musical efforts of the songs are not really impressive yet, but what made us shiver back then in the early nineties – and still!! – are the uncanny vocals. Marius must have used some harmonizers on this one, cause his deep, echoing, guttural growls sound totally inhuman. It sounds like he has the mike in his mouth and tries to swallow it. In the beginning the vocals seem not to fit the deathmetal tracks really well, but seldom deathmetal sounds more haunting than this!
The guitar riffing on the short tracks is not spectacular, but supports the dark spheres created by the voice very well. The build-up of the songs is great: a few strings without heavy distortion are played at the start of the songs mostly and these sounds reveal a first hint of the immense tension this band would create a few years later on the two tracks of the “My angel” ep as Arcturus (the best songs they ever did…). Then tight, though not blasting, drumming by Hellhammer and solid deathmetal guitars take over and build up tension… The growls from deep down the underworld make the songs unique.
Not as essential as the My angel/Morax songs, but when you can get your hands on this Mortem demo or ep, don’t hesitate!