Suffer surface on Bandcamp

One of Sweden’s many underrated bands of the early ’90s, Suffer released a short burst of excellent material from ’89-’94, almost all of which has languished in relative obscurity. The band’s best known releases are the Global Warming EP (1993) and Structures LP (1994), both released on the then-fledgling Napalm Records (NPR 002 and NPR 006, respectively).

Working almost exclusively out of Sunlight Studios with Thomas Skogsberg at the boards, Suffer produced choppy, grinding, somewhat technical death metal with tortured vocals, and a subtle dose of the off-kilter weirdness unique to early Swedish death metal. If you’re down with the first Affliction LP, you’ll dig this. The exceptional mix on Structures — a shared credit between Skogsberg and Fred Estby (Dismember, etc.) — highlights drummer Perra Karlsson’s (Nominon, Bergraven, Heathendoom Records, etc.) combustible performance, and makes for a terrific headphone listen.

Neither those releases, nor any of the band’s demos or 7″s have been reissued, and originals have become rather pricey. Fortunately, Napalm has made lossless digital downloads for Global Warming and Structures available for purchase via Bandcamp.

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Obituary Livestreams

We should all strive to be as happy in life as Donald Tardy playing the drums on this jam room livestream of the band playing The End Complete. Dude has life figured out.

The set kicks in proper around 8:30, but don’t skip that first song. The band is in spectacular form, but the between-song goofing around is half the fun. Special mention for Mark Prator’s terrific mix. I kinda wish they’d release this properly because it’s a great version of the record to listen to.

They also did a more serious livestream for Cause of Death:

…and another jam room set of random tracks:

Sinister’s lost year and under-appreciated second coming

Too many people take Sinister for granted. The death metal veterans have been around long enough to become a household name, and the first three albums are undeniable classics, but many stop there. That’s a real shame because the band — revolving around founding member and last man standing, Aad Kloosterwaard — has quietly, steadfastly built one of the largest, densest, and most consistent catalogs in all of death metal. And what’s most surprising is how much of it is recent, with seven of their 13 albums arriving post-reformation, and five of those in the last 10 years.

Sinister, Era I — Late ’80s to 2003

This is the stuff most of us know, with three bonafide classics right out the gate. We’re skipping that to focus on what came after…

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Comecon: A Retrospective

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comecon
One of these guys is Rasmus Ekman, and one is Pelle Ström. One of them is the drum machine.

It’s not exactly the stuff of legends: a name derived from a Soviet-era economic pact, two musicians (Rasmus Ekman, Pelle Ström) who handle guitar, bass, a drum machine and other instruments across three full length albums with three different singers on each album. But that’s COMECON.

Most of us can name-check Swedish metal bands like Entombed, Unleashed, Dismember, Hypocrisy, At The Gates, Arch Enemy or Amon Amarth. Comecon isn’t a exactly as well known, having floated just beneath the surface of popularity during the early to mid-1990s. Even though they shared many of the same touchstones as better known bands (recording at Sunlight Studios, produced by Tomas Skogsberg, vocalists from Entombed, Pestilence/Asphyx, and Morgoth, and a certain familiar guitar tone) they were never quite on the same level. Death metal fans never got to see them play live; they were a studio band that didn’t tour. Continue reading Comecon: A Retrospective

The Golden Years of British Extreme Metal: The Other Guys

Bolt Thrower, Live in the '90s
Bolt Thrower, live in the ’90s. Courtesy of boltthrower.com

Much ink has been spilled about the blossoming of extreme metal around the world. The United States – particularly the Florida scene which spawned so many great bands – has been well represented. Sweden/Norway gets plenty of love, from the chainsaw guitar tone to the unchained hedonism. That’s all fine and good as those were the blood-stained birthing grounds of our beloved genre.

What about England, then? In those glorious pre-Internet days of tape-trading and DIY promotion, metal wasn’t bound by geography: it spread like a sickness over the entire world. Let’s consider that in the last fifty years, those fog-bound island dwellers have had a serious impact on music, especially music that has a bite to it, a little edge, or my favorite: a fucking massive overload of steam-powered jackhammers pounding the earth. Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath! Just, you know, four guys from Birmingham who altered the very foundations of rock and helped create a genre. Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple. Motörhead. Judas Priest. Iron Maiden. Venom. Carcass. Anaal Nathrak. It’s a progression forward from one extreme to the next, the next band in line doubling down on what had come before them.

When extreme metal began to violate the ears of the world, the Brits were ready to step up and prove they could do guttural vox, grinding guitars and blast beats as well as anyone. This was a wonderful time for extreme music, as musicians were constrained only by their imaginations, genres were still being defined, and labels weren’t afraid to take chances on bands that had cobbled together a demo. Venom, Carcass and Napalm Death have earned a spot in the top tier of the golden era, when extreme metal was poised to move from the grave to the living room.

But what about the others guys? The names you might have heard bandied around in conversation standing around the beer keg, and you nodded your head and said, “Oh yeah, they’re awesome,” without having a clue what they sounded like? Then let us pry open the Sickening Vaults and get elbow deep in the guts of British metal.

Continue reading The Golden Years of British Extreme Metal: The Other Guys

Defecation, “Purity Dilution” (1989)

defecation-purity-dilution-cassette

I’ve tried and tried but can’t remember, not even a little bit, how I got hold of this tape but there are enough clues to give me a general idea. What I’ve got is the cassette reissue (NBA RED 6050 – 4) that came out in 1992 with different cover art and a bonus song on side one. What that means to me is that I almost certainly bought it in Florida, probably at Vinyl Fever, and like much of what I picked up at that time, the only thing to recommend it was the band name. My thinking was probably something like this:

Defecation! Huh-huh, yeah, okay, right on, I bet it sounds like shit. Oh well it’s on Nuclear Blast, how bad can it be?”

Continue reading Defecation, “Purity Dilution” (1989)

Death, “Leprosy” (1988)

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Art by the phenomenal Edward Repka.

Some years ago (1998) in Atlanta, upstairs at the venerable Masquerade, I saw Death on what would prove to be their last show. If I’d known this would be the last time I’d see Chuck Schuldiner live, I would have paid more attention to the show instead of hunting down the slimy dickhead who’d punched me in the kidneys during Hammerfall’s opening set. Continue reading Death, “Leprosy” (1988)

Cannibal Corpse, “Eaten Back to Life” (1990)

I’m at work far too early this morning because some fart-knocking network engineer (less of an engineer than a hapless offspring of Booji Boy, created in a tube from genetic material scrapped off the wall outside Booji’s crib) made me get up at this unholy hour just to stab a console cable into a firewall server. I’ve spent 15 years in this industry aggressively resisting any learning opportunity but I came dangerously close to “figuring some shit out” this morning. Couple that with a cup of coffee that tastes slightly worse than boiling the liners out of last seasons cleats and I’m in a foul fucking mood.

I could listen to Katy Perry singing “Bicycle Built For Two” to complete the Trifecta of Enduring Misery but I’m not quite ready to suck down a red Solo cup of hemlock so instead I dialed up some Cannibal Corpse: specifically the first album, Eaten Back to Life.

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Entombed, “Left Hand Path” (1989)

Entombed - Left Hand Path
Artwork by the mighty Dan Seagrave!

Nostalgia is a wet dog. I still love her, she’s my dog and all that, but she smells like the bottom of a zombie port-a-potty and insists on drying out by rolling on the couch of Corinthian leather. One of the cool things about listening to these old albums is getting that weird feeling that comes from taking a deep, long hit of pure nostalgia. Mmmm, so good! Yes, yes… remember? I was in college studying Medieval English Literature when Entombed’s debut came out! I was skinny! I wore glasses! Everyone else was listening to Jane’s Addiction!

Continue reading Entombed, “Left Hand Path” (1989)

Unleashed “Where No Life Dwells” (1991)

1991; let the sink in for a moment. Fuck that was a long time ago. Like, pre-cell phone era, when people had “mobile phones” with batteries that could fry bacon or produce a cancerous brain tumor that whispered evil shit in the subconscious. It was so long ago, I was a wee grub of a collegiate human, feasting on the excrement of those higher up the academic food chain. The world was consumed with fear and fire as a war started in ancient Mesopotamia which is, beyond all logic and reason, still going on today. The bloated corpse of the Soviet Union continued to explode and spatter the region with a bunch of piss-ant countries. Everyone’s favorite cannibal Jeff Dahmer got caught with his dick in someone’s skull, “going postal” became a thing, people thought Pearl Jam was cool, and Starbucks opened in California. Lots of deliciously stupid shit happened that year!

Continue reading Unleashed “Where No Life Dwells” (1991)