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Torn Apart - 95%

Hames_Jetfield, August 2nd, 2021

Sweden in all its glory. Music like Carnage should be described in this way. But, according to history, this cliche needs to be clarified a bit. Well, it has been used to say that Carnage and Entombed's debuts are almost one of the most influential (and best) in terms of Swedish death metal. Almost, because there were Nihilist (earlier incarnation of Entombed), and then Tiamat, Dismember (later incarnation...Carnage!) and Unleashed - just for the formalities. The fact is, however, that the Swedes from Carnage were among the first to show this style in such an exquisite form.

You should also bear in mind that "Dark Recollections" - even by the later standards of Swedish death metal - stands out above the norm. Carnage has above all with a solid heavy, even overwhelming atmosphere, ingenuity (check even the "Infestation Of Evil"), good use of slower tempos, varied drums (there are some blasts!), great growling by Matti Kärki, great production by Sunlight Studio and guitar arrangements (quite catchy by the way). Personally, probably the most important things in this list are "Death Evocation", "Torn Apart", "Gentle Exhuming" or "Blasphemies Of The Flesh" - as if I had to present what exactly Swedish death metal is for me. Another thing is that each of the tracks that make up the repertoire of "Dark Recollections" can be liked, they all make a huge impression. By the way, it's also worth paying attention to the beginning of "Deranged From Blood" - which is a preview of what Amott will do later in Carcass! As you can see, there is no way to complain about the ordinariness and the lack of differentiation with "Dark Recollections".

At the end I will not add anything particularly revealing. As I mentioned, the only Carnage album is one of the best Swedish death metal albums ever. It contains the essence of this style, and at the same time many elements so eagerly smuggled by subsequent bands that engage in this type of extreme. This also proves the greatness of "Dark Recollections".

Originally on:

Left Hand Path's Sister Album - Essential Swedeath - 97%

Mercyful Trouble, March 15th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Earache Records (Remastered)

It is with a heavy heart that I mourn the passing of the influential frontman Lars-Goran Petrov of Entombed/Nihilist fame. With the Swedish death metal legend's untimely death comes a slew of renewed enthusiasm towards Entombed's already classic early work, especially the seminal Left Hand Path. I, too, would have written a review about that iconic piece of pounding Swedish devastation, but I feel that with its 99% average on Metallum, there's little more I can add to the discussion, despite how personally and deeply impactful I have always found that 1990 masterpiece to be. Instead, I seek to pay tribute to Petrov by reviewing a similar band's (who were also among the first to record at the renowned Sunlight Studios) 1990 death metal masterpiece. Let me be clear that with this review, I am NOT trying to steal LG's thunder - quite the contrary. I am further cementing the legacy of the masterful Swedish scene and giving context to why the metal world has lost one of its best frontmen by reviewing friends of Entombed. Being another pioneer of the Swedish sound recorded at Sunlight Studios, containing similar riffing and drumming patterns, being filled to the brim with death growls from Matti Karki that are similar in tone to those of Petrov on LHP, and having the same cryptic feel that makes early 90's DM so charming and timeless, it's clear why I take Dark Recollections to be a beautiful companion album to Entombed's debut.

With that out of the way, I must now make clear that this is, of course, a stand-alone review, not a side-by-side comparison with Left Hand Path - suffice it to say that if you like one, you'll like the other. As far as the music on this 1990 slab of brutality goes, I must begin by talking about the guitars. The trademark Swedish chainsaw tone meshes beautifully with the substantial power chords riffs and the driving tremolo ones. However, the riffing here is generally less melodic than the guitar work on Dismember's debut from 1991, so it makes for a rawer (albeit less emotional) death metal experience than Like An Everflowing Stream. In addition, the more obviously d-beat inspired drums also add to the sense of rawness, which is a trademark of the Swedish sound at any rate. Matti Karki also delivers a more primal death growl than his more humane vocals across Dismember's consistent catalog of albums, which is befitting for the overall more cryptic feel of this album compared to later releases these musicians were involved in. Overall, the closest comparison to Matti's vocals on this album would be LG's on LHP, but when the blast beats kick in and the growls become fiercer in tone, it becomes clear where Vomitory's sound came from (despite Matti's vocals being less guttural than those heard on Revelation Nausea or Blood Rapture).

Carnage are able to capture a strong sense of groove in their generally mid-to-fast-paced sound, which usually tends to be key for other mid-paced death metal bands like Bolt Thrower and Obituary as well. However, Carnage retain more elements of their grindcore roots, which means that they do conjure up a bit more of a sonic whirlwind with their death metal, despite barreling forth with a sludgy tempo quite often as well. The best example of this dynamic would be "Blasphemies of the Flesh", which starts off in dirgey fashion before delivering nothing short of deranged savagery during the verses and a foreboding bridge. On the other hand, in their notorious song "Torn Apart", the verse riffs feel both visceral and catchy, giving the listener some breathing room in between the intense vocal lines but still keeping a great deal of momentum going. This is definitely one of the best Swedish death metal songs overall, whether you prefer the version heard on Dark Recollections or the re-recorded version featured on the reissue of Like an Everflowing Stream.

I do feel that a couple of the middle tracks on here feel a bit less distinctly Swedish, but this is of course not a bad thing since it proves the sound to not be entirely one-note. For example, "Infestation of Evil", aside from the drumming and a couple of power chord riffs towards the middle, wouldn't feel entirely out of place on one of the classic Obituary albums, while "Gentle Exhuming" certainly belongs on Mental Funeral alongside "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay." This variety ultimately leads me to my next point, that being that this is, even more so than other cryptic OSDM gems, a very feel-based album. The musicianship can at times be relatively crude even compared to other extreme bands of the time, but the vision for the direction of the songs is always clear, and that's not something a lot of young bands always capture. In some cases it can be a bit redolent of previous tracks like on "Self Dissection", but still you know there's going to be a walloping climax to the song - "something something self dissection something, now, NOTHING REMAINS!" "Death Evocation" is also a well thought-out finale before the outro, if for no other reason than the epic buildup to the headbangable verse riff.

Last but not least I'd like to briefly discuss the early grindcore demo tracks included on my CD reissue - they're phenomenal! Just how I like my grind, really - rotten in the same way plenty of death metal adjacent to Carnage was. There's already a couple of reviews for The Day Man Lost demo here on the archives, so I'll just say that while it's not the most extreme sounding old school grind demo, it's a succulent four-something minutes for the more OSDM-than-punk-leaning grind listener, and it has a very dense and satisfyingly heavy sound.

That's really it. If you're craving to have your eardrums eviscerated by chainsaw guitars and gnarly barks of death, then you need to hear Dark Recollections as well as Left Hand Path by Entombed and Into the Crypts of Blasphemy by Interment. The Swedish sound may get a bad rap nowadays since the HM-2 sound is way overdone, but we can't start discrediting the originators. Carnage lives up to their namesake, and this album is a worthy compliment to be touted alongside the first full-length that the late LG Petrov lent his not-even 18-year old pipes to. The latter reason is why, though he isn't on this album, I hereby dedicate this review to LG in honor of him and his legendary metal scene. Rest in pow-- festering slime, brother!

A gift from Sweden - 90%

we hope you die, March 13th, 2020

Despite the fact that Carnage never managed another full length release, I believe we should resist the temptation to call it a one hit wonder. The reason being that the line-up behind this was so knitted into the scene, many either already involved in other projects or would go on to do so in the future, that it feels more like the collective effort of a cooperative society tied together by music. This also highlights the community spirit so essential to true-blue underground music. Yes, there were dicks out for themselves, but for the most part this enduring music grew out of young dumb kids with an innocent joy and passion for what they were doing.

Sweden’s Carnage managed one LP in 1990. ‘Dark Recollections’ features many songs that would later go on to become Dismember tracks. And in one sense it feels like a dummy run of their legendary debut released in 1991. But I would go further (don’t start throwing things) and say it’s even a cut above Entombed’s beloved debut ‘Left Hand Path’ released later that same year.

In many ways it remains straddled between two worlds. One is the dark, primitive beginnings of Swedish death metal found in the ancient lore of Nihilist and Grotesque. And one is the more sophisticated long form compositions of death metal to follow in the years to come. I get this with much death metal written with the HM-2 guitar tone simply because it has such a big impact on the techniques employed by the music, more so than is normal for an effects pedal. It seems tailored to these hyper charged Slayer riffs set to d-beat rhythms and filthy droning chords. If one wants to work more nuanced chord progressions into the music crafted from this tone, one must turn to very traditional forms to do so, usually NWOBHM and its flair for neo-Romanticism in modern music.

Carnage’s ‘Dark Recollections’, whilst one can clearly hear both these competing traditions throughout the album, knits this together far more effectively than many of the releases to follow from their peers. As a result we have this intense and cavernous traditional death metal, augmented by Matti Karki’s primal approach to guttural vocals, with the occasional elegant melody thrown in almost seamlessly. Lead work too, whilst it will sometimes be straight up fretboard massacring, shows a surprising amount of maturity for foundational death metal. Of course, we know that these heady early days became overshadowed by Gothenburg and the later career of Michael Amott, thanks in no small part to the style’s own self imposed limitations that did not hamper their American counterparts. But this brief period in Sweden lasting roughly four years was to bear many fruits from a diverse array of bands well beyond the legendary Sunlight Studios sound, an era ushered in thanks to releases such as this.

Call it a dry run, call it a deserving classic, it helped lay the groundwork for some of the most beloved releases in metal, and many of the riffs and tracks ended up on the more enduring Dismember catalogue anyway. Not only that, but it is a dark and unified work of primitive death metal in its own right.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

A Swedish Death Gateway - 88%

Stained Glass Assassin, March 30th, 2019

Carnage was a Swedish death metal band that released one album in their lifespan: “Dark Recollections”. To say that this album (which in its own right is historic) holds a lot of history and influence in the Swedish death metal scene is an understatement. Carnage, was most notably known for being comprised of members that would eventually go on to form the band, Dismember. However, Carnage would also showcase Micahel Amott, who would go on to join Carcass and Johan Liiva, who with Amott, would form Arch Enemy (and Spiritual Beggars). Some members also had their hands involved with the band, Entombed during its earliest stages. Quite a lot of name dropping, no?

Now, if you think that just because Carnage’s members are mostly consisting of future Dismember members that “Dark Recollections” would sound similar to a Dismember album, well, you’d be right. “Dark Recollections” is chock full of the down-tuned, buzz saw riffs that create the trademark distorted sound that Dismember have played during their career. In addition, the groovy and bluesy sound of Entombed come through on many of the rhythms throughout the albums, which given the connection of the country of origin and former band ties, comes as no surprise. There are a number of melodic hooks at beginning of most songs that capture the listener and then transform into heavy, gloomy riffs that carry both the Swedish death metal sound as well as a steady pulsating beat that drive the songs forward. Melodies not dissimilar to Entombed’s bluesy, death are heard, picking away over top the ripping leads while solos pop up from time to time. Some are short and sweet, while others are merely guitar fills that add a quick burst of flair to a song.

The drums at times may see a little straight forward, but they display plenty of crushing power, blistering speed and add a great deal to the rhythms. Their murky sound plays wonderfully with the distortion of both the guitars and the vocals, which allows everything to harmonize into the creation of a dark and harsh atmosphere. The bass lurks in the background and at times, can be heard, but only when the guitars tend to either fade out or simply step back and allow the bass to come forward, which only occurs for briefs stints. The use of synths is sparse and add an extra hint of despair on a few songs, but are not by any means a major influence on the overall sound.

Matti Kärki’s vocals, as you might image, bring about sounds of Dismember, but there are something about the sound of his voice that differs between the two bands. The similarities are many, but on “Dark Recollections” Karki seems to have a darker and grittier sound than they would on “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”. Either way, the vocals inspire a sort of madness that reflect the mood of the album and bring the imagery of the cover art to life.

At any rate, one might say that, reading a review of “Like and Ever Flowing Stream” or “Left Hand Path” would sum up this album succinctly and while the similarities are palpable, “Dark Recollections” is more than an amalgam of said bands. One way or the other, Carnage may have only survived for one album, but it is a solid slab of Swedish death metal whose sound would spill outward onto the Swedish scene. I’ve always felt “Dark Recollections” has an important place in the history book of heavy metal and is an album I always recommend to those getting into the melodic/Swedish side of death metal.

Highlights: “Death Evocation” “Dark Recollections” “Torn Apart”

Into the Abyss of Oblivion

Calling All Left Hand Path Worshipers - 80%

Roffle_the_Thrashard, August 7th, 2016

The Swedish death metal scene of the early 1990's is regarded by some as about twenty people that all make up about thirty bands. And as slightly untruthful as this is, there actually is some authenticity behind such a claim. We can point all sorts of fingers, but I don't think that anyone will be able to find a bigger and better example than the short lived grindcore turned death metal project, Carnage, and their first and final album Dark Recollections. On this record, former members of Dismember added their talents to a relatively young band at the time and secured their spots towards the top of the list of European death metal royalty.

Those that are well versed with the playing styles and tones of Entombed and Dismember might as well just read a review for music by those bands, because the description will be pretty much the same. "Well if that's true, what's the point of this review?" The point is that despite sounding a lot like Entombed and Dismember (the latter of those bands shared members with this one), Carnage's Dark Recollections can bring things to the table of death metal that its peers don't...

...such as riffs that kept me wanting to listen this album start to finish and then again. Tracks like "Deranged from Blood" really evoke that Gothenburg melodic death metal sound that contains sorrowful licks that truly provoke a feeling of darkness. Carnage's peers at the time were using more anger-filled melodies, but the opening riff of that song is just sounds so damn sad. There are of course the bestial and aggressive lines delivered, such as pretty much the entirety of "Infestation of Evil." Evil really is captured on this album with the altered and demonic vocal lines that create a sense of madness for the listener.

There are some recycled open chord melodies such as on "Death Evocation" that sound like some from "Dismembered" by Dismember. These are the more forgettable riffs from this album, as they provide a decent amount of the structure of the album that probably needed to be filled at the last minute. This, along with tremolo-based melodies licks that stay on the same note and end with a small flourish of minor notes, did that job. It's a Swedish death metal staple that I am personally kind of tired of hearing, but, hey, it's a classic concept.

But how does all of this fit into the production of the album? It fit very well if you are a guitarist that played on this record. Much like Tomas Skogsberg and Fred Estby did on Dismember's debut album, Like An Everflowing Stream, the bass is almost completely washed over by the elephant sized buzz-saw guitars, and the piercing tone of the drum kit used by Estby himself. There are almost no times when the bass can truly be heard unless it's either spiked up by the production or when the guitar simply is left out to let the bass have a solo for about four to five seconds. C'mon, show some love for the bassist will ya? It's somewhat like the production job of Retribution by Malevolent Creation in which the bass is never heard unless the entire rest of the band is cut out.

However, for the rest of the characteristics of Dark Recollection's production, everything is heavy, down-tuned, and beefy. Every last note is fattened up to its full musical weight and hammered out with ferocity like no other (unless we include Entombed, Grave, or Dismember). Carnage proves here that it can be very difficult to break outside the boundaries of old habits and playing styles. For fans of Entombed, Grave, Dismember, Nihilist, and the like, this is a must have release to buy or at least listen to. Of course you can always listen to Left hand Path and not really tell a difference.

God Hates This Album! - 95%

Wacke, January 25th, 2008

I'm swedish & I love swedish Death Metal much more than American. I still like the American but it's more Black Metal oriented than Swedish. "Dark Recollections" by Carnage is a swedish masterpiece & it's pretty forgotten today. It's known by the hardcore Death Metal fans but not to so many more.

It's in the same spirit as Entombed & Dismember, well 3/4 (they only were 4 in the end) of Carnage would reform Dismember after Carnage's departure & since the songs is mostly old Dismember tunes it's pretty much the same as Dismember. Anyway, Carnage was a great act that deserved more attention than they got, especially since all 4 of them would become stars in the genre.

Anyway, if we should go on with a little information on this old masterpiece. It starts off with a heavy & fast masterpiece entitled the same as the album & it's one of my favorite Death Metal songs of all time. Next one is "Torn Apart", a fast & furious masterpiece that really makes you torn apart. It goes off heavy with "Blasphemies Of The Flesh" & then over to their probably most known song "Infestation Of Evil", although I can't hear what's so special with the later one. Track 5 is a real Grindcore song in the same feeling as early Carcass & it's the worst song on this album even though it's still good. "Deranged From Blood" is another favorite of mine & it's reminding a lot of Dismember's later classic "On Frozen Fields" from their 1995-album "Massive Killing Capacity". Maybe it was a reworked version of this song since it seems like Dismember never rerecorded this masterpiece. The rest is awesome all the way & especially "Death Evokation". Just like the most tracks on this album, this is another old Dismember classic.

The production is very similar to Entombed's masterpiece "Left Hand Path". In fact, it's pretty much exactly the same except that this one sounds a little more "dulled". It's a pretty good & raw production & you clearly hear everything except for the guitars from time to time.

The cast is great, although a little unstabilized. They were young & this was their first recording ever except for some today, legendary demos. Their doing a great job & I envy them all for their capacity of writing great tunes like these.

So what's the last notes I can make on this album... Well, the best tracks here are in my opinion "Dark Recollections", "Torn Apart", "Deranged From Blood" & "Death Evokation". All of them is killers though.

If you're into swedish Death Metal or American bands like Autopsy then this is a must have for you. I can be hard to find & I recomend the 2000-remaster although it doesn't matter that much if you grab that one or the original split with Cadaver. Also, if you would want more of this stuff then I recomend Dismember. That's probably the closest you'll ever get to this album since this was old Dismember material.

A Lost Death Metal Gem - 90%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, September 12th, 2007

When you think about pioneers of the Swedish death metal, you can say bands like Entombed, Nihilist, Grave, Unleashed and Dismember. But, who knows about the existence of Carnage?
After two demos, they recorded their first album in 1990, the same year of Left Hand Path; but why that one had more success than this one? Who knows…yes, because this album is not less worthy of admiration for the music and especially for his importance in this genre.

Carnage were formed by members that would have become very famous in the scene thanks to other bands after this one. They were just teenagers when they recorded this incredible album; every song is a fistful of pure brutality. If you like Entombed early sound, you will love this one. The guitar distortion, the drum sound and the vocals are typical of this music. Sometimes, few synth create a really obscure atmosphere just to give something more evil to the sound.

The guitars and bass distortions remind me a chainsaw, for example check out the first part of “Torn Apart” song…amazing violence. The growls are very good, typical Swedish. In few parts, the grind music violence, so well known in that period, has been taken as inspiration by this group that is incredibly powerful by the use of the blast beats.

One of the songs I like the most is "Gentle Exhuming", that features a very similar Entombed beginning. After awhile, a massive mid paced riff destroys everything, followed by some blast beats and some strange solos. These ones are so obscure and evil. This is surely one of the most violent tracks of the album; while the intro to “Deranged From Blood” song can be easily come out from a more melodic Dismember album, for example Massive Killing Capacity.

All in all this is a great album, one of the best in that period for the growing Swedish death metal scene. Unfortunately they stopped recording after this one, but, now this is regarded as a cult that must be owned in every death metal fan's collection.

an underrated death metal classic - 85%

Abominatrix, October 26th, 2003

...release that everyone seems to have forgotten about. Before Entombed, before Dismember, before Grave, there was Carnage. Their lineup at one time featured now legendary guitarist Michael amott, though I don't think he is on the album release (though I could be wrong, mine was shipped without an insert), and current Arch Enemy vocalist Johan Liiva. The band apparently was the former incarnation of Dismember, and I can see relations to that band in their sound, though Carnage is simpler and more stripped down by a long shot.

This is the early incarnation of the Swedish death metal sound, and probably has crossover appeal to many grind fans. It's simple, straight ahead and complete aggression, though by today's standards it isn't very fast at all. There are only a couple of short blastbeat sections on the album, the rest is either midpaced and chuggy or a fast, frenetic thrashing tempo. This may have been the first release with the trademark Sunlight Studios sound, though I'm probably wrong about this...the guitars are very downtuned and rumbling, and if you turn this up loud enough the onslaught will cause your bones to rattle. It's not as clean as some other Sunlight productions either, there is just the right amount of raw abrasiveness to the sound that adds to the power of this underrated release. Lead guitar either plays noisy squealing solos (not quite of Entombed's calibre, but still pretty cool n Swedish Death (TM)), or picks out simple Twilight Zoneish melodies over the triumphant roaring power chords of the rythm. Drumming is straightforward and might have done with a little spicing up, but it's not a major gripe, not everyone can play oldschool Swedish death like Nicke Andersen or Hank Amarillo (hah hah). I really don't think any fan of Dismember, Entombed, etc, can bare to be without this in their collection. it's simple, evil, and fucking aggressive death metal the way it was meant to be! How can you go wrong?