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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.