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Sweden's Nihilist were, of course, the band that became Entombed -- one of the most famous extreme metal bands of all time, and along with Dismember, the most visible of Sweden's original wave of pioneering death metal bands in the early 90s. 1987-1989 compiles all three of their demos, in addition to a final one, credited to Entombed after the band changed names (more on that later). It also happens to be one of the best collections of death metal I've ever heard, demo, pro-recorded or otherwise.
The quintent of Nicke Andersson, Uffe Cederland, L.G. Petrov, Alex Hellid and Johnny Hedlund (later of Unleashed) put down some seriously badass recordings in their short existence, and anyone into old school, DIRTY death metal -- early Autopsy is a good reference, as most of the Swedish DM underground at the time were big fans of the California band's demos -- will probably love this stuff. Hardcore punk figures big as well, and tracks like "Carnal Leftovers" from 1988's Premature Autopsy demo could easily have been turned into HC songs with a different style of vocals. There's even a black-ish atmosphere to it, not far removed from Mayhem's 1987 Deathcrush EP. Still, even at that burgeoning stage, Nihilist were decidedly a death metal band, opting for a lower-pitched, monstrous vocal style (again, perhaps influenced by Chris Reifert's in Autopsy), and similarly low-tuned, muscular riffs.
Later tracks like "Face of Evil" (Only Shreds Remain demo, 1988) and "Severe Burns" (Drowned, 1988) introduce more sophisticated song-forms, and are closer to the sound that would become famous on Entombed's studio records ("Severe Burns" actually shows up on their second album Clandestine). In particular, "Morbid Devourment", recorded for Jon "Metalion" Kristiansen's Head Not Found imprint, is almost oppressively heavy, using a sludgy, doom-laden tempo to bring out the ugliness and disgust in Petrov's vocals, as well as the immediately distinctive "bee swarm" sound -- the guitar timbre made famous by Nihilist/Entombed, and popularized by seemingly almost any metal band recording at Stockholm's Sunlight Studios in the late 80s-early 90s . And from the same sessions, just to demonstrate the band's roots, there's a Repulsion cover ("Radiation Sickness")!
After Drowned, 3/4 of Nihilist chose to form Entombed in mid-1989 rather than break the news to bassist Hedlund they didn't want him around anymore. The songs from the But Life Goes On demo (with Andersson and Cederland sharing bass duties) are essentially run-throughs of the vibe that would surface on the first two Entombed LPs. However, for my money, the versions of "But Life Goes On" and "The Truth Beyond" here are more aggressive than what appeared on Left Hand Path the following year, with blunt, prominently mixed drums, and a guitar sound that retains its jagged edges, where LHP and subsequent Entombed records would smooth them out.
What I love about Nihilist (and early Swedish death metal in general) is how untamed, and unpolished it is. These were kids, after all, who played music for the hell of it, drinking beer, skating and slumming around Stockholm, and would just as soon make drunken fools of themselves at the train station as become rock stars. Their talent and love of extreme music was the only thing that made them different from millions of other teenagers all over the world.
Lucky us. This is classic shit.
Pioneers of Swedish death metal, Nihilist integrated the blunt rhythmic immediacy and dissented attitude of hardcore punk into primal and raging death metal with an inclination toward speed metal acceleration. Existing for only two years before reinventing themselves as Entombed, Nihilist laid a regional foundation of musical savagery upon which would prosper a richly prolific and substantial movement enjoying its most active and essential moment during the early 1990s. On the strength of three formidable demos, this band established well deserved notoriety in underground tape trading circles of the time, as nothing this individual and savage had previously emerged from Sweden to claim significant notice among the international underground metal scene after Bathory’s establishment. In effect, the landscape of the underground metal movement was forever altered, as soon after Nihilist’s formation and subsequent disbanding and reforming as Entombed to release the legendary Left Hand Path album in 1990, Stockholm, Sweden became the only true rival to Tampa, Florida’s domination as death metal breeding ground, with acts such as Dismember, Unleashed, Grave, and Therion joining Entombed in leading a fertile movement of death metal activity in their homeland.
Candlelight records, in partnership with Threeman Recordings, has compiled the three demo releases of Nihilist, along with two separate recording sessions from 1989, and Entombed’s But Life Goes On demo from the same year, on this disc, and for those who missed out on the phenomena as it occurred, this is imperative listening for the death metal enthusiast. What is remarkable when listening to these demos in succession is the consistency of evolution in compositional structure and execution. The material displays a talent and vision beyond the youth of these musicians at the time, and the development through progression from one session to the next reveals an impressive level of determination and creative desire. The sudden bursts of speed breaking away from murky mid-paced crawls and violently threatening breakdowns in "Face Of Evil" and "Severe Burns" showcase an intelligence towards dynamic in tempo and dramatic unfolding. Rapid, galloping rhythms in "Revel in Flesh" and "When Life Has Ceased" bring the urgency of hardcore punk bands Discharge and GBH, elevated in violent blasts of grinding speed that recalls the prime era attacks of Slayer and Repulsion. Buzzing guitars churn like angry saws through steel, solos erupting and overflowing in bursts of streaming madness, rumbling bass of corrosive current, relentless drumming of creative awareness in rhythmic intensity, and howling, raw throat shouting vocals of lurid fury, shape a sound of menacing horror and unbridled anger through songs fueled by the restless spirit of youth in attitude of frustration and mockery towards delusional, fearful society. This is music of the frightening nature of existence and the feral acknowledgment of the untamed and alive human essence.
These morbid recordings are foundational in the shaping of an identifiable sound and feel characterizing a movement uniquely frozen in a moment in time. It is music of the origin; thick, ugly, menacing, and raging metal disgorged from the nihilism of life, to expose mortal fear as an illusion in the realm of civilized society, and perceives death as a source of meaning in existence. In the domain of inexorably vile and insalubrious death metal, this music is esteemed for no greater reason than for its horrifying portrayal of the reality of mortal insignificance through artistically barbaric expression.
If I was going to pick up three favourite treasures from my vinyl collection I think one of them would definitely be Nihilist’s “Carnal Leftovers” boxset of five 7”EPs. It’s an amazing collector’s item, wonderfully released and strictly limited to 500 copies I think (at least my black vinyl version is) and if I was ever going to buy the Nihilist recordings, it could be this version only. I wouldn’t be so happy about having those cult demos on CD, even a 12”LP wouldn’t be as great as something like this. It makes a lot of sense to release “Carnal Leftovers” as a boxset and put each demo on a single 7” vinyl, with a separate cover. And so “Carnal Leftovers” includes the “Premature Autopsy” demo from 1988, “Only Shreds Remain” demo also from 1988, “Drowned” demo from 1989 and then there’s the fourth EP with three extra songs recorded during various recording sessions (which are the so called Head Not Found session in 1989 and during the “Drowned” session in 1989). Finally to make a death metal fan even crazier about this boxset, they’ve decided to put also the Entombed’s demo “But Life Goes On”, what of course has a lot of sense, as it’s basically the same band, the same music and a rightful continuation of the Nihilist. So, five EPs, lots of great music to listen to and also something to read, as this boxset includes also a 7”sized 12 pages booklet with an informative history of Nihilist, liner notes from Alex Hellid as well as from the various musicians, from bands like Autopsy, Grave, Dismember, Edge of Sanity, Watain, Tribulation. I can’t think of spending your spare time better than grabbing a beer, reading this book and listening to some of the most obscure and excellent death tunes ever made! Even my wife goes second to this hehe!
With cult bands like Nihilist I don’t feel like there’s any point in reviewing the music. Not only everybody who’s into this style should know it, I believe, but also this band and their music has such an importance for creating and influencing the whole genre that no one should deny it or dare to critique them. But honestly, these three demos are just amazing. I personally like the second demo most, “Only Shreds Remain” is just excellent, it was there when Nihilist introduced the Swedish HM2 pedal distorted sound for the first time in its whole obscure glory and this demo includes one of my favourite tracks ever, “Revel In Flesh”. Along with it, I also really love “Premature Autopsy”. It has slightly different sound, but it is something amazing how a young band like this managed to compose three such killer tracks, including the future Entombed’s hits “Supposed to Rot” and “Carnal Leftovers”. And what about the Entombed’s demo? “But Life Goes On” is a pure Swedish death metal classic, who knows if it isn’t the best demo ever made? Especially the title track gives me goose skin every time I listen to it, it doesn’t matter if it’s the demo or “Left Hand Path” version. And it doesn’t matter if the quality of the sound may be slightly raw and primitive on some of these demos, as this only adds some extra atmosphere to those recordings.
These demos were never supposed to rot. They should have been kept as the most expensive treasures and so as a long time fan of the Swedish scene I’m happy and proud to own such a collectable item as this boxset. It was an excellent idea to release it! The only thing they can do now to make me even happier is maybe to release a box of tapes with these materials - that would be cool, eh? Of course it would be better to actually own the original demo tapes, but who am I kidding? I do not live in a dream world. Anyway I do highly recommend you getting “Carnal Leftovers” boxset. Sell your kidney if you must, but do get this, otherwise the demons from the cold North will make a premature autopsy on you!
Now THIS is the shit. Nihilist were arguably the earthquake that started the tsunami wave of Death Metal that ran throughout Sweden, not only through their demo material, but by their early albums under newly adopted name of Entombed (after breaking up and reforming minus bassist Johnny Hedlund, who would in turn go on to form fellow Swedish giants Unleashed).
Inspired by battered tapes of Repulsion and Death that they received through tape trading, these rabid teens got together to create something quite special. This is a compilation of all their demo material (including the Entombed 'But life goes on' demo) in chronological order (a lot of demo comps start with the 'clearer' sounding material first... not this one :)). Although the sound on the earlier stuff can be a bit shaky at times, the quality of the material shines though. The undeniable awesomeness of "Revel in Flesh", "Carnal Leftovers" and "Supposed to Rot" still have the same X factor they had when I heard them in my early teens, cutting through with such power thanks to the combination of thick, slime coated guitar tones and guttural vocal insanity that was to become the infamous 'Stockholm sound'. As the quality in production grows, so does the quality in music, culminating in the jaw dropping aforementioned Entombed demo. Although a lot of Nihilist tracks also turned up on Entombed debut Left Hand Path, they have a unique rawness here which adds to the unwholesome vibe of the music — and that's taking nothing away from Left Hand Path either — they're equally killer, just in different ways.
In simple terms, this compilation encapsulates exactly what can happen when friends get together with a ton of cheap beer, some horror movies, a sore throat, trashed equipment and a Boss Heavy Metal distortion pedal with the settings all turned to 10 — and long may it continue to impress and floor those metal brethren of the future who've currently yet to discover its greatness.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
This collection of demo tapes by the legendary Nihilist from Sweden is a perfect point to start knowing the scene back then. Many of the bands at the time were thrash metal followers but the very first death metal acts were growing too and this band, along with Grave, Carnage and Dismember, was putting out the first tracks on cassettes. The time was perfect to start something new and something more brutal. The influences from abroad could be very important in order to find a path to a new brutality, but the originality was a trademark of the death metal bands from Sweden. Their sound is now famous in metal and it’s unbelievable to imagine what a bunch of guys created at the end of the 80s. Now, let’s jump in this collection and be submerged by the brutality of this band.
Nihilist basically was a band formed by future Entombed members and the future Unleashed bass player. These young guys put out their first demo in 1988 and here we can find the three tracks composing that Premature Autopsy. The first one is “Sentenced to Death” and welcomes us with the bass sound and the immediate mid-paced brutality of the other instruments. The up tempo parts are blowing in intensity and rawness but the production is already quite good and gives the perfect volumes to the songs. They are destructive and still a bit bound to the thrash/death metal for the riffs and the vocals, that are not yet pure death ones. Death and Sepultura influences reign supreme here and with the infamous “Supposed to Rot” we go on with speed. The riffs are always the same ones we can find on the Entombed’s debut but the distortion and the vocals are once again not completely Swedish and more bound to the classic death.
The last “Carnal Leftover” is another famous track and features a sort of semi-blast beats in old Repulsion style. The guitars are massive and the very first grind/gore influences are always very important to create it. The atmosphere is utterly dark and the drumming is relentless.
We change the demo and we go on with the following Only Shreds Remain (1988) and with three more tracks. “Abnormally Deceased” appears and we can already notice the sound that was evolving. The guitars and the drums sound are far closer to the future debut album by Entombed. Finally the crunchy, chainsaw distortion is well stuck in the guitars and the production is more polished, still remaining gore and dark. The vocals have changed incredibly and we don’t know if they are from Hedlund or Petrov. By the way, the tempo is always faster and the several stop and go by the instruments add a higher dosage of impact. “Revel in Flesh” was already the highlight here thanks to the catchy and moshing riffs and the semi-blast beats in some parts. The growth of this band at the instruments is something astonishing and now they play real Swedish death metal. The last “Face of Evil” is more mid-paced but soon the restarts are obliterating. The vocals are echoing and really nasty, out from a crypt.
The third demo was called Drowned and it’s from 1989. We can find just two tracks here but they are great. The famous “Severe Burns” has a lead guitars intro to create the right atmosphere of decay and morbidity. The tempo is mid-paced but soon it increases and the riffs are faster. The production is even clearer that the one on the past demos and all the instruments are sharp and massive. The vocals are always on growl but the riffs seem a bit less impulsive, maybe thanks to this kind of production. However, the speed and the violence are always present. We can notice the growth of this band also from several more mature mid-paced sections. The obscurity is definitely higher on these parts and sometimes the Obituary influences seem pretty heavy. The soloing by the guitars is dramatic and really dark. “When Life has Ceased” is already recognizable thanks to the unmistakable drums intro and the catchy riffage.
The following tracks are from other sessions and we can remark few of them, the new ones. From the 1989 session we can find “Morbid Devourment” that’s quite mid-paced and long. The guitars are crunchy and some fast restarts give variety and add brutality. The production is rawer but totally Swedish! “Radiation Sickness” is an almost grindcore track and the speed reigns over here. The nastiness and the fury are uncontrollable. The riffs and the drumming are relentless in destroying our ears. The last three tracks are from Entombed's But Life Goes On demo (1989) and along with the famous “But Life Goes On”, we can also find the sheer attack under blast beats of “Shreds of Flesh” and “The Truth Beyond”. All the three tracks already showed the Entombed’s debut production and the crunchy riffs. Often, these tracks are not totally on speed but they are remarkable also for the mythical and gore mid-paced parts that contributed in turning famous this kind of metal. They smell of decay, obscurity and they are always filed with perfect lead guitars lines to increase this sense of morbidity.
All in all, this is an excellent proof of a band that was growing, analyzing the various passages. The changes in songwriting and inspiration are great, while this band was searching for its personal way of playing extreme metal. It’s a recommended compilation for those who want to know where a part of the swedish death metal was born.
Nihilist would end up being known more as the prototype for Swedish death metal legends Entombed, but in 1988, the young group played some of the most extreme music ever, taking cues from Venom as well as Napalm Death in forming a sound that would eventually become legendary.
Long-time favorites of tape traders in the early 1990s, these demos laid the groundwork for a sound that would influence thousands of musicians in the years to come. The production on these recordings is very raw and a bit dodgy as Threeman Recordings opted to leave the recordings in their original state as to be representative their original feel.
Featuring tracks from three separate Nihilist demos recorded between 1988 and 1989 as well as three tracks culled from the recording sessions of the “Drowned” demo and the very first, highly sought after Entombed demo “But Life Goes On”, this disc is a good indicator as to the state of underground metal in the late 80’s.
At this point, death metal was still in its formative stages, and these recordings did much to push the art form out into the open, garnering a great deal of attention amongst fans of the emerging genre. “Revel In Flesh” contains an amazingly killer guitar solo, while “Carnal Leftovers” hints at the powerful guitar tones that would soon be quite notorious in the world of metal.
Vocalist LG Petrov cut his teeth on extreme metal with these releases, throughout the course of the album you’ll him improve upon his growling, moving from a primitive bark to an all out death metal monster. These recordings are highly recommended for fans that have never had the chance to hear the originals from seventeen years back and to any other metal fan that is interested in exploring the roots of the death metal style.
While newer fans might be a bit put off by the very primitive nature of these early recordings, many will find much to enjoy here as Nihilist illustrate the beginnings of an entire musical movement.
Nihilist is a somewhat obscure band. Even though they were one of the first bands in the Swedish death metal scene, they never recorded an official album. Their demos however, were traded massivley through the underground tape traders network, and were highly celebrated works. However, due to personal differences with their bassist, Nihilist disbanded only to reform the same week under the new moniker Entombed. And thus Nihilist sank forever into obscurity, until now.
This collection collection compiles every Nihilist recording that ever existed. You get all three Nihilist demos, as well as various rehearsal tracks and other goodies. This cd also includes the single Entombed demo. The pakaging and booklet is also noteworthy, with artwork from all their recordings, tons of photos, as well as descriptive liner notes detailing the bands brief but important history.
The music on hand is top notch, old school death metal. Even in these early recordings, the classic Entombed, dirty as fuck guitar sound remains ever present. Each successive demo shows the band delving into darker territory. The "Premature Autopsy" demo offers sick, thrashed death metal while "Drowned" shows the band incorporating doomier elements into their sound.
This compilation is essential for Entombed fans, or even for fans trying to get into the roots of death metal. It also serves as an important history lesson on one of death metal's siclest bands.