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Xysma! What an odd band, from goregrind to pop rock. Above the Mind of Morbidity is from their goregrind era, an eighteen minute ride of groovy, gore soaked absurdity. That is what it is. It may not sound so exciting, it may in fact sound very typical, which it is. But that does not mean that Above the Mind of Morbidity is a sub par release.
The instrumentation is much fun. The guitars generally play at a rather simple level, and seem to do not very much much, but the leads can be very frenzied and chaotic. As for the bass guitar, it does not do anything bad or good really. It is heard. Just being there. The drums are where much of the force comes from, often playing simple and groovy rhythms but can deliver some blasts and such with much precision. The vocals are mostly gurgling and snarling which is pulled off very well and can be very enjoyable.
As for mixing and production, it is old. Obviously. It has a gritty and murky feel to it and that is the saving grace, along with the songwriting which is more then often catchy as hell. And then are the musicianship, with great chemistry making it a worthwhile release. As for what drags this release down, it is rather average instrumentation which does what it is supposed to, but nothing more. Aside the drums and vocals, and the occasional lead, it is fairly boring. But in the end, the songwriting and the atmosphere, as already mentioned, is what really saves it.
Overall, there is not much going on here, aside the perhaps iconic status this EP have gained. But beneath that status, is a very flawed but ultimately enjoyable release.
Stand-out tracks: Cranial Cradle, Foetal Mush.
Xysma started like many bands in Finland did at the time: as a gore/grind one. This period is the peak for a genre that became so famous thanks to band such as Repulsion and Carcass. After a small demo, this EP signs officially the presence of a band that soon would have turned into another direction, musically talking. By the way, this EP is like a cult for those who appreciate the real, pure sickness that was coming from the north of Europe.
These six tracks are the fitting example of how playing morbid, intense and gore. “Foetal Mush” starts with the hyper distorted sound of the bass to follow with the excessive vocals. Everything here must be cold and excessive at the same time and they achieved the goal. The vocals are grunts from the darkness and they are barely human, while the instruments are on the borderline between the pure gore mid-paced parts and the faster restarts with blast beats too. The solos are unbelievably raw, pointless and rotten. The longer “Paradise of Steaming Cadavers” shows some more classic death/grind parts but the sloppy, putrid production makes them seem so rotten and they smell like a dead animal.
As always, the mix of tempo parts is remarkable and the intensity grows. The most extreme part of the sound is for the grunts. They are totally blackened, lifeless and cold. They are able to evocate a sort of sterile and at the same time, putrid scenario of depravation and sickness. The corpses are left to rot on the mortuary’s metallic and cold beds while “Entangled in Shreds” welcomes us with down tempo parts and manic riffs. The fast restarts are actually remarkable and very good for the variation. Also the following songs feature the same style and that is good for me.
These tracks are actually very good at mixing sudden restarts to morbid slow paces and they are not childish or too impulsive. Here lies a sort of maniacal, chirurgical will to disembowel the listener through accurate cuts and voluntary infections. Everything seems studied in each particular by these psychotic motherfuckers and the songs are always able to transmit different emotions and feelings, but still remaining gloom and rotten. The technical level by the band is not huge but far superior than most of the other realities in this field and this contributes to the songwriting. All in all, this is a very good demo that is rotten yes, but with style and through good music and strong structures.
Ohw yes, this is a lovely death/grind EP from the old days. Like some reviewer said earlier this is more Carcass than Carcass. These days we have bands like Haemorrhage paying homage, but in 1989-1990 Xysma were at it. And they were good at it as well. Do not expect any originality here, not by current standards nor back then. But it is the sheer quality of the material that makes this EP enjoyable to this day.
All songs are based on a certain style, being a damp and eerie blend of the Carcass albums Reek Of Putrefaction and Symphonies Of Sickness, but, as said, with a more eerie atmosphere and incomprehensible fuzzy vocals at times reminiscent of old Impetigo. Apart from the vocals, another difference are the noisy guitarsolo’s by Olli Nurminen.
There are no highlights but if I have to name one, it would be opener “Foetal Mush” which is good and extreme as well as catchy and in a way humorous. The fluffy vocals screaming the title before the song evolves into grindocre with an unequalled noise solo remains a funny yet very enjoyable moment.
If you dig good ol’ goregrind, this is a release you shan’t ignore
In many respects, this release would be the high water mark for this band in terms of Death/Grind/Noise. It encapsulates the essence of what it means to have true love for underground music. The ferociousness of sound and texture is simply mind blowing, more so in todays mediocre standardized metal genres, than in the time of its release.
The format is simple. A dominant low production value and increased audio filth, with raging low tuned guitars, mid-fast hardcore pace to blast-beat drums and vocals of low roaring and growling (some back up vocals too) . Needless to say: Very effective and brilliant in its context. Lyrics are also on the up side of the package, dealing with an array of issues from daily life, gore and even politics are dealt with in an estranged manner . Art work is nothing fancy, very minimal as for such a release, but it get the gory aspects clear enough.
Along side other up and coming act of the early era, Xysma's "Above the mind of morbidity" was able to incorporate all existing forms of extremes in music and in concept, to deliver a almost perfect piece of vinyl.
Every time I listen to this I still can't believe what happened to these guys. Much like other notable Finnish acts (Disgrace, Convulse, Sentenced, etc), Xysma got tired of playing death metal and went the route of rock/electronic/whatever in the later stages of their career. Sometimes I wonder if people even realize that this MLP and the "Fata Morgana" 7" exist. It seems that anytime I mention this band, most people just associate them with "Lotto" and the material that followed. It's a shame and I feel that they are really missing out on their best works.
What Xysma offer on this release is 6 songs of (gore)grinding death metal, complete with processed vocals and lots of crazy blasting. As you listen to this album, you can almost imagine bodies getting mutilated with slabs of flesh falling off at every riff. The Carcass influence is undeniable. Some of the songs even sound like they were taken straight off of "Reek of Putrefaction" (i.e. the beginning of "Mild Stench of Rot"), but in the end I would have to say that this MLP is Carcass taken to extremes. The music is much darker, the vocals are sicker and the guitars are 10 times heavier. There's so many classic, catchy tunes here that once you hear them you're gonna want to listen to this record all the time. Most of the songs are between 2:00 - 3:00 minutes in length. They're simple in structure and usually get straight to the point. The exception is the song "Paradise of Steaming Cadavers" which is much more involved and consists of some insanely heavy dark riffing throughout. While most of the other songs are straight-forward grind attacks with some death metal thrown in, this song is the exact opposite. Definitely the highlite of the MLP. Another stand-out track is "Cranial Cradle". About halfway through that song, an epic doom-like riff emerges that's similar to the main riff on "On the Hills of Desecration" from the 7". Carcass wished they could write stuff this dark!
The production is minimal, but it doesn't bother me that much. The music is dirty and so is the sound. I guess the biggest problem for some people would be the drums, which are way too low in the mix. The THICK guitars are always out front, as well as the vocals which are also in the Carcass vein (high pitched gurgles mixed with low growls). I suppose this would sound a lot better with stronger production, but I honestly can't imagine it any other way than it already is. I think it sounds perfect!
"Above the Mind of Morbidity" is an absolute essential purchase for anyone heavily into bands like Carcass, Impetigo, Exhumed and thousands of goregrind acts that followed.