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Negative and hateful to the core - 75%

robotiq, April 7th, 2021

Lemming Project were a savage death metal band who made two albums before fading into darkness. Their excellent debut album ("Extinction") was a strange, uncanny take on the genre. The "Negative Hatecore" demo from 1990 serves as a prelude to that album. In retrospect, the title might imply that this is 'hatecore' music; a brand of dark, guttural NYHC typified by bands like Sheer Terror, Neglect and Darkside NYC. Lemming Project had nothing to do with that scene but the label fits, at least regarding this demo. The band had similar Celtic Frost vibes, and a similarly dense guitar sound. If you stumble across this demo whilst looking for the next Darkside NYC, keep listening. The “Negative Hatecore” demo fills the same hole as the ‘negative hatecore’ subgenre.

There are three songs. "Hysteria" is the best of them, as it was on the album. This is the band's greatest and most terrifying song. I can't think of many death metal songs that capture this level of malevolence. This demo version is almost as powerful as the album version. In some respects it sounds even darker, because the fuzz in the guitar tone provides a further layer of abstraction. This song is mandatory listening for anyone into extreme death metal. "Dust" is more conventional in structure, but equally crushing. This demo version might be superior to the album version. It has a looser, more hypnotic and less 'definite' sound, leaving more space for the imagination. The final song, "Out of the Ghetto" only appeared on the CD version of “Extinction” (as a bonus track). It is a simpler song with some hardcore parts, a catchy chorus and some ugly riffing that would frighten Sheer Terror.

Overall, this demo is even sludgier and more chaotic than the album. It sounds like layers of earth have been scooped over the microphones. It has the same jackhammer repetition that the best moments of the album had. The band derived its power through the uncertainty of the riffs, the blurred lines and the tendency to play the same riff over and over. At their best, the band built their songs with a tribal, trance-like monotony. This effect would have been impossible with traditional death metal song structures. The band was significantly crustier than almost every other death metal band I've heard (even Bolt Thrower). Does this come from Amebix or was it filtered through Voivod? I don't know. The latter's experimental conviction must have influenced them.

Don’t let the ludicrous band-name deter you from hearing some of the most extreme, visceral death metal of its time. This demo isn’t quite as good as “Extinction” but it is worth hearing on its own merits. It strikes to the essence of the early European death metal scene, where the gloves were off and the formula was unwritten. These guys could have been contenders. Fans of Obituary, Celtic Frost, early Bolt Thrower and Carbonized will love this demo. Anyone who accidentally strays from the NYHC hatecore scene will love it too. Negative hatecore indeed.