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It's a Start - 60%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, May 29th, 2019

Nifelheim has never been known as a particularly slick or polished band, but their "Unholy Death" demo, recorded when the Gustavsson brothers were still teenagers, takes their rawness to the extreme. Does it work? Honestly, not really. On their studio material, Nifelheim has benefited from relatively good production, even on their brutish, bludgeoning debut, recorded 2 years after this demo. But here, the sound is much more bare bones. The guitars are very tinny and thin, and the vocals sort of waft over the whole thing rather than take a place of their own. The drums have a decently beefy sound, and are one of the few benefits of the production style.

The saving grace of this demo is that the band's budding songwriting skills are already showing themselves. 3 out of the 4 songs on here would eventually find their way onto their debut album, and it's a good thing that they did, because even at this early stage, there's some quality riffwork here. "Black Curse" and "Unholy Death" are vicious slabs of metal, and despite the weak production, they still wield some power and even some catchiness. Unfortunately, the eerie guitar melodies that helped fill out the sound on the s/t album aren't as present on this demo, leaving some of these songs feeling a bit hollow.

The one song on here that never ended up seeing the light of day, "Dawn of the Dark Millenium," bears some similarity to "Sodomizer," but isn't too memorable overall, except for the slow, atmospheric midsection.

If you like Nifelheim, this demo is worth the listen to see their humble beginnings, but if you're not much of a fan, this definitely won't change your mind. It's fun for completionists, but it's certainly nothing essential.