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Production over Music - 40%

Petrus_Steele, April 29th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2014, 2CD, Svart Records (Digipak, Remastered)

20th Adversary of Emptiness is the whole package, having the remarkable Nespithe and the collection of old demos and the 2006 Vanishing session that is Em9t2ness of Van2s1ing / V34ish6ng 0f Emptiness. So you get to enjoy the entire Demilich discography within two discs. Obviously I'm only going to review Em9t2ness of Van2s1ing / V34ish6ng 0f Emptiness since it deserves its own review, while Nespithe should be reviewed individually.

The second CD starts from the latest to the very first material, starting with the 2006 Vanishing session; basically, chronologically backwards. This three-piece that includes three original songs and perhaps the band's only new material, revealed more chuggy music that still maintains the core sound of the band, dating back to Nespithe. However, the production and the prominent guitars overwhelm and make this three-piece songs not a fun listen.

Moving on to The Echo demo, which was the last demo before Nespithe was released. I actually liked Inherited Bowel Levitation - Reduced Without Any Effort ("Bowel" later changed to "Rowel") and The Echo (Replacement) on Nespithe more, thanks to the production. You also have a pointless 25-second interlude, titled egasseM neddiH A - ortnI. The rest of the tracks' productions are good as well, but the songs themselves aren't that much on both albums, same with Erecshyrinol; although I liked the demo version more.

...Somewhere Inside the Bowels of Endlessness... demo also provided great production. (Within) The Chamber of Whispering Eyes solo sounds great, and And You'll Remain... (In Pieces in Nothingness) has a groovy intro. Though yet again, the rest of the tracks just don't sound good.

Now to some original music that wasn't reintroduced (except the first track that was also combined with that demo's introduction, so the song was longer). The Four Instructive Tales ...of Decomposition is a bit raw, yet sounds good, traditional, and heavy. The first track, Introduction / Embalmed Beauty Sleep (later titled to Raped Embalmed Beauty Sleep on Nespithe) was an awesome listen and the introduction that made the track longer is a plus. And my favorite Demilich track, being Two Independent Organisms → One Suppurating Deformity, giving the very-distorted guitars, bass, and the thrash-like blast beats, along with the vocals. It's literally perfect and the right type of Demilich music that I wish would've been more focused in the later material. The other two tracks were okay, not as good as the first two.

And finally the Regurgitation of Blood demo which contains an only track and it's the original, longer and the very raw version of The Uncontrollable Regret of the Rotting Flesh. Different production, sound like pure shit - and I prefer the newer version, with lyrics.

After pretty much breaking down how all the 18 tracks sound and what they have to offer based on their respective productions and the overall music, I'd say The Four Instructive Tales ...of Decomposition was the best material from Demilich before Nespithe was released, with a rating of 40% for the production, as well as having the whole package in particular, and the best tracks on the second CD which are Erecshyrinol, Introduction / Embalmed Beauty Sleep, and Two Independent Organisms → One Suppurating Deformity.

Flawless retrospective of one of the best DM bands - 100%

Cassandra_Leo, April 19th, 2016

Demilich have deservedly become one of the most legendary bands to emerge from the Finnish metal underground. While they are obscure in the grand scheme of things, they are well known in the metal underground and probably need no introduction to many longtime readers of this site. However, for neophytes unaware of the band's place in death metal history, they are one of the most important bands in codifying the "dissonant and technical" strain of death metal alongside Quebec's Gorguts.

The latter band's masterpiece Obscura is frequently compared to Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, particularly due to both albums' subversion of the listener's expectations of melody. Demilich's sole album, Nespithe, might be compared to John Coltrane's Ascension or Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, although unlike those recordings, everything about it is tightly composed and meticulously rehearsed; however, it is as radical a break from death metal orthodoxy as those albums were from jazz orthodoxy, and their use of dissonance and chaos in a genre that, until their release, had been comparatively more melodic and structured is also noteworthy.

When Nespithe was released in 1993, there was nothing else that sounded like it, and while the band has undeniably influenced subsequent death metal acts, there still isn't anyone else that sounds like them, and there probably never will be. The band's squalling guitars and inhumanly low vocals are atypical of death metal; they also have little apparent predecessor and no one since has managed to duplicate them (which may be one reason Demilich have yet to make another full-length album, though they reformed in 2015 and have not ruled out the possibility of new material). This music genuinely sounds like it was composed and performed by aliens.

The sheer experimentation of this music represents a progression of the genre of death metal that has seldom been equalled elsewhere, and the music is much more complex than it first appears on the surface. It's not just the unusual uses of scales, rhythms, and harmonies (although those are highly unusual); even the compositional structure of this music is sometimes unusual. The music may take several listens before it becomes comprehensible, particularly to listeners unfamiliar with death metal, but several of the songs become surprisingly catchy after repeated listening, particularly given the dissonance of the material. The band's performance is consistently fantastic; this is demanding material from a technical standpoint and the four members of Demilich are more than up to the challenge of performing it.

Before 2014, no adequate career retrospective of Demilich's work was available. The band only has one album, of course, but they had a wealth of demo material and it was only available as free downloads from Demilich's website (which it still is). 20th Adversary of Emptiness fixes this, and it's a perfect retrospective in every way a fan could want. The mixing and mastering is perfect; Nespithe and the demos have been remastered from the original tapes for the first time, and in doing so the engineers took exquisite care to avoid any of the "loudness war" shenanigans that have resulted in so much modern death metal sounding sterile and flat. The remastering isn't just dynamic by modern standards; it's dynamic by the standards of the 1990s. The music definitely benefits from the remastering; the instrumental clarity of this material has never been better, and details jump out at the listener now that used to be fairly murky on previous versions of the material.

Beyond Nespithe, the band recorded three new tracks for this recording (though two of them are evidently recordings of old compositions that had not previously been recorded), which are of a par with their earlier work, and the demo material provides an instructive and fascinating retrospective on the band's musical growth without suffering from the inferior recording quality of most bands' demo material (only the earliest track, which was later re-recorded, is of poor recording quality). Additionally, several songs from the band's earliest demos were not re-recorded for the album, and are interesting compositions in their own right. The supplementary material, including new artwork by Nespithe's original artist and new liner notes, supplements the material nicely and provides interesting historical perspective into the making of the album.

I can't recommend this collection strongly enough for anyone who even remotely likes death metal. Even if you already own Nespithe, there's more than enough here to justify purchasing the band's material again. And since most of the band's material (including Nespithe) is available as free downloads from their website in lossless FLAC format, you really have no excuse for not listening to it right now.

Note: This review is partially adapted from a review I wrote for Prog Archives of Nespithe.

The emptiness of your pockets, after you buy this - 98%

autothrall, January 18th, 2014

How to make a near-perfect record even better...re-issue it during a period where it isn't readily available, with intriguing new cover art in a limited edition 3LP or 2CD set, that includes what is very likely the entirety of what the band has ever recorded. Now, trust me when I tell you, that if you've been holding out on Nespithe and never had the chance to purchase it, this Svart versions release of what was originally supposed to be put out by Antti Boman and Demilich themselves is what you want. Yeah, I know firsthand, having the original CD or cassette is cool in of itself, but you're getting an enormous value that collects the demos and rare recordings in a comprehensive fashion so that you're no longer forced to mine for them online or receive them piecemeal through earlier issues of the CD. This is Demilich, and very possibly all that they will ever create, so what the fuck are you waiting for, and if you've long owned another version and are craving some vinyl, you may not get another opportunity like this.

The centerpiece of this is obviously Nespithe itself, and while a co-blogger of mine has already offered his two cents on the experience, with a perfect score (one I don't largely disagree with), I felt it appropriate to explain why I have so long enjoyed it, and why it's easily my favorite of the classic Finnish death metal works (at least on the uglier side of the equation). Originally a blind buy on tape through Necropolis/Pavement, and probably one of the last cassettes I purchased, as I was transitioning to CDs. I had not come across the band through tape trading, but the name instantly appealed to me through my love of Dungeons & Dragons and all things fantastic, metallic, evil and arcane, though this was a point at which I'd already cut my hair and become the college guy, listening to just as much new sound outside of metal as within it. And that's really part of the appeal of Demilich...their strange, atonal, Bolt Thrower-grooving take on the sound which relies heavy on the quirky repetition of evil note patterns and the amphibious, unaffected guttural rumble of Boman. Throw in the cryptic lyrical schemes and over-the-top song titles like "The Planet That Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh That It Desired...)", and you've got a concoction that any death metal dweeb would (and did) find impossible to resist. And as much as I enjoyed other classics of this scene (Worth Without God, Slumber of Sullen Eyes), I felt this was mildly less tethered to the Florida/Swedish traditions...no, this was something new.

With the 20th Adversary of Emptiness, you're hearing Nespithe like you've not heard it before, remastered from the original master tapes rather than the lesser version that had been reprinted in the past. The bass and guitars seem a bit more evil, the drums really pop out and Boman still sounds like an undead bullywug gurgling frogs. Yet, you still have that entire toilet-bowl atmosphere due to interaction of the deeper vocals with the swarthy bass and higher pitched grooving melodies. It sounds phenomenal, and every subtlety and detail comes out to the fore here, with some of the moodiest and most creative chord progressions you'll find in cult death metal hands down. These guys were just as off-the-hinge as a Cynic or Carbonized, well before stuff like Gorguts Obscura came down the pipe to redefine death metal's boundaries, and although it fits fully within the genre, the groove and jazziness certainly places it within reach of the 'avant-garde'. It's just one of those albums you hear once and never forget, for better or worse, and if I had to piece together a top 20 death metal record list of all time, it would feature prominently, even if it wasn't at the top. And that's only the first LP in this package, mind you...

The second, Em9t2ness of van2s1ing, features both The Four Instructive Tales...of Decomposition and the ...Somewhere Inside the Bowels of Endlessness demos (from 1991-1992), and while a number of the tunes are redundant to the full-length, they sound even uglier here, but with a lot of that same ridiculous quality to the vocals. The downside is that I always felt the instruments themselves (guitars mostly) just weren't as pronounced against Boman's void-swallowing timbre, though the crudeness is very likely to appeal to that minority crowd which simply prefers everything as rough and tumble as possible, and these demos certainly give a more squamous and grinding impression than the 'refinement' on the full-length. Of the two, Four Instructive Tales... is superior, since it has some non-album material which most people who loved the full-length forever would appreciate, only this has been put released before, I believe on both the Repulse and Century Media CD re-issues.

On the last record, V34ish6ng 0f emptiness, we're presented with the The Echo demo (also 1992) on the A-side, which is once again a bit redundant since it's almost all on the full-length, but for completion's sake why the hell not? More excitingly, the 'vanishing' sessions on the B-side, which were what I was most looking forward to hearing. A trilogy of tunes recorded in 2006 which are frankly excellent and aimed at what was essentially a Nespithe 2.0 aesthetically, the one difference being that the guitars are more raucous and grinding directly against the vocal gurgles. Riff-wise these are not a far cry from 1993, and I think for most people that would have sufficed. Personally, though I enjoyed these tunes, Demilich always struck me as the type that might try and go further 'out there', so I was a little surprised that the material didn't feel so alien, but who knows what might have occurred had this group continued its career from Nespithe onward?

Top this off with the usual boxed set stuff, like a poster, sticker, and a pretty comprehensive booklet which includes a lengthy interview, original artwork, and just about anything the completist would desire, and you have a package well worth owning, provided you don't have to sell off your little sister to acquire it. And even THEN, it might STILL be worth the trade...just think, no more potty-mouth bitching, no more Justin Bieber, no more lollipops, no more Ke$ha, no more My Little Pony...just an amorphous mass of primordial Finnish death metal that sounds like it was paid forward from the formation of a black hole. Do it, bro! Human traffickers are often just a phone call away.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com