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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.