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A not so enfeebled blast from the past. - 85%

hells_unicorn, January 23rd, 2012

Did anyone out there ever think that there was a time when Dark Tranquility sounded like a wicked hybrid of late 80s Kreator meets early Death? Or that there was a time when Anders Fridén sounded like an old school death metal vocalist in the same school as Max Cavalera and Jeff Becerra during their glory days? The answer to both these questions would have to be a resounding no, since from 1989 to 1990 the band went by the name Septic Broiler and were toiling in the underground trying to carry the torch alongside the growing Swedish scene as being pioneered by Nihilist (later known as Entombed). But whatever significance one wants to place in a name, this is the exact same outfit that brought about the consequential “Skydancer”, about 4 years younger and neck deep in the 80s version of death metal.

In much the same fashion as a number of early death metal offerings, the style on display here can easily be mistaken for the Teutonic thrash sound, save the vocal sound which is a bit more exaggerated and morose than what Angelripper or Petrozza had done up to this point. But it follows the same agitated, high tempo madness that characterized “Persecution Mania”, with a stronger dose of earlier melodic tendencies that seem to take some cues from the earlier thrash bands that Chuck Schuldiner was occasionally channeling on “Scream Bloody Gore”. Suffice to say, though this predates the characteristic Gothenburg sound that would emerge in the mid 90s, there is much to the melodic contour of these songs that lends itself to the repetitive, singing quality of the guitar lines of said era implied in several of these riffs.

As best as I can surmise, these songs were never brought into the Dark Tranquillity repertoire, even as bonus material for curious fanatics. The logic in this can be deduced by their archaic attachment to an era where death metal had not quite cut the umbilical cord from its thrash metal roots, though it was already a distinct genre by virtue of its different atmosphere and vocal aesthetic. It’s definitely of a caliber comparable to the early demo work of Nihilist, and an interesting piece of history from a band that would later come to help define an institution of metal that still sees constant spinoffs to this day. Nostalgia is the primary draw of this beast, and it’s about as well performed and put together as it gets for a demo at the turn of the decade, especially when compared to the early Darkthrone demos from around the same time.

A more melodic version of early Kreator - 80%

The_Wanderer, March 21st, 2009

Septic Broiler, the humble origins of the band that would become the “longest standing band from the famed Gothenburg metal scene”, actually probably had more to do with German thrash than it did with melodic death metal. In fact, the entire demo sounds like it could have been written by Kreator around the Pleasure to Kill era. Dark Tranquillity, or rather, Septic Broiler show some early tendencies towards melody on this demo, but for the most part they are trying to sound like their influences and have not yet developed a sound of their own.

Anders Friden of In Flames does vocals on this demo, and would remain the vocalist of Dark Tranquillity until after the release of their debut album, Skydancer, but sounds nothing like he does in modern In Flames, or even mid-career. His vocals are more akin to a lower-pitched version of Mille Petrozza’s frantic raspy scream. He is actually far less annoying on Enfeebled Earth than he would be later on, and I would even say pretty decent. The drumming consists of a lot of rapid alternating between the hi-hat and snare, a sort of half blast beat that is found all over Pleasure to Kill, and Anders Jivarp actually does a lot to this day. It should be familiar to people who have heard Dark Tranquillity, so if you like his later drumming, this shouldn’t be much different, though perhaps a bit more frantic and less tight. The guitarwork consists of a lot of frantic, tremolo-picked riffs that, again, sound like Kreator, but when the band slows things down and gets melodic, we hear some stuff that sounds like it could have come off Skydancer, though probably not anything much later in Dark Tranquillity’s career. The bass mainly just follows the guitar, but is audible and fills out the sound, which is appropriate for these songs. The production is of course, not great, but everything is decipherable enough that the demo is listenable, even enjoyable, so no complaints there. It is a demo after all.

Overall, Enfeebled Earth is nothing special, better for historical significance than listening pleasure, but it is not terrible, and worth finding on the internet if you are a fan of Dark Tranquillity, interested in the origins of melodic death metal, or looking for some kind of raw thrash/melodeath crossover sound. Just click the link from metal archives to the myspace fan page and the three songs from the demo are up. They definitely aren’t amazing songs, but I find myself going back to them every so often when I am in the mood.