You’ve got to hand it over to Leif Cuzner (RIP)… Nihilist’s first guitarist would have probably never have guessed that a quarter of a century later, his own guitar setting – a lethal combination of a B tuning, the Boss ‘Heavy Metal’ effect pedal and all his Marshall amps knobs turned up to the max – would still that damn popular. Yes, Left Hand Path was released waaaaay back in 1989 but no matter how harmless most of the current death metal scene sounds like these days, that specific ‘buzzsaw guitar’ sound is still alive and well, ready to ruin everybody’s party – both in its home country (Gluttony, Paganizer, Demonical, Entrails, Interment, Puteraeon etc.) but also abroad, in such un-Swedish countries as Italy (Horrid, Undead Creep, Profanal), USA (Terminate, Acephalix), Spain (Graveyard), Finland (Winterwolf, Torture Pulse), Poland (Incarnated) Mexico (Denial, Putrefact, Zombiefication) and so on. Hence this non-exhaustive list of five of the most recent Swedeath bands that actually are not from Sweden that caught up Hammer’s ears lately…
Home Country: Czech Republic
Date Of Birth: 2007
Latest Release: Their second full-length, Black Infernal Vortex (2014)
Level Of Swedishophily: To the max! They specifically decided from the get-go to play old-school Swedish death metal and thus, picked up the title of an old Grave classic from their Into The Grave album to underline it. No wonder they put out a split CD with Interment last year. Their vocalist Michal Žlababa Štěpánek admits though that even if “lately more and more bands seemed to incorporate it to the point of becoming annoying, we still love that typical early 90’s Swedish style. It’s so massive, nasty and dirty! This being said, even if our debut album (Dead Lovers’ Guide) was very classic-sounding, our latest stuff is more diverse so don’t get fooled by that typical guitar buzz, there is more than meets the eyes.”
Michal’s First Swedeath Album: “Although it’s not a very death metal album, I’d say Entombed’s To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth in 1996.”
Michal’s Favourite Swedeath Album: “Dismembers’ Like An Everflowing Stream, whose opening song Override Of The Overture we covered on our first album.”
Why Should You Care? Having their roots in both the brutal death metal (Heaving Earth) and the grind scene (Jig-Ai, Negligent Collateral Collapse), those youngsters are hungry for blastbeats and in-your-face brutality, they’ve come up on Black Infernal Vortex with a sound that is a tad more advanced than one could think.
Find Them: www.facebook.com/brutallydeceased
Home Country: Malaysia
Date Of birth: 2008
Latest Release: Their debut album, Morbid Terror
Level Of Swedishophily: Average. The guitar sound is here and they used the same cover artist as Entrails did for their last album, but vocalist Muntah Darah has a different, more screaming type of rasp and the band claims to be as much influenced by classic Swedish death metal that they are by Obituary or Malevolent Creation for instance, even if that’s less obvious. Darah confesses that their weird choice of moniker has nothing to do with the EP of the same name from ’94 by long forgotten Swedish act Wombbath, though. Despite the fact Lavatory are probably the only band from that part of the world playing a genre created thousand of miles away in Scandinavia in the late 80s, he stresses out that their country’s underground music scene is “so small in size compared to what’s happening in Europe. Still, the concept of a new band coming from one of the least metal-friendly places in Asia playing Scandinavian old-school death metal with an added Eastern dramatic feeling, pentatonic scales and lyrics filled with evil, grief and suffering is a good way to challenge your idea of what a stereotypical band is.”
Muntah’s First Swedeath Album: “I can’t remember if it was either Dismember’s Indecent And Obscene or Entombed’s Left Hand Path to tell you the truth”
Muntah’s Favourite Swedeath Album: “There are so many of them but I guess I’d have to go for Left Hand Path simply because it’s the one album that really inspired us to form this band.”
Why Should You Care? Well for a start how many extreme metal bands from Malaysia do you actually know, eh? So the concept of seeing twenty-something dudes from the other side of the planet performing a form of music rooted in Stockholm frozen in time in 1989 alone should be enough. But to be fair, exotic factor aside, there’s more to Lavatory than this.
Find Them: www.facebook.com/lavatorydeath
Home Country: The Netherlands
Date Of Birth: 2001
Latest Release: Their second full-length, Death Strike (2012)
Level Of Swedishophily: Medium. Yes they do have that guitar and they don’t mind a good ol’ D-beat or two either, but also have some thrash influences among others. “People usually refer to us as Swedeath,” confesses their vocalist Carl-Cristian. “Mostly because of the HM-2 effect pedal we’re using. You can hear that our guitarist Fredde has learnt to play his instrument while listening to Entombed but I think overall we’re more a mixture of death metal, crust and hardcore. This being said, we love the crunchiness of that sound and personally, I prefer death metal that rocks and the Swedes nailed the groove.”
Carl’s First Swedeath Album: “Entombed’s Left Hand Path.”
Carl’s Favourite Swedeath Album: “It’s a hard question since there are so many. It’s hard to choose between, say, Left Hand Path, Clandestine, Slaughter Of The Soul, Into The Grave or Osculum Obscenum. If I wanted to play it safe, I’d say either the Projections Of A Stained Mind or the Swedish death metal triple CD compilations.”
Why Should You Care? Although they disagree, (“when we formed Massive Assault, Absorbed was still active and even though we shared three members, this was a different band”) one could say that Massive Assault is almost like a direct continuation of Absorbed whose sole album Visions Of Bloodred always looked upon Sweden for inspiration. But for Massive Assault, they stripped down all the fat in favour of something much more direct and spontaneous. They’ve always supported the DIY ethics and used to have a bunch of ‘free to download’ originals and covers on their now defunct official website and have recently put online, also for free, the entirety of their last album on their Bandcamp page. On a sidenote, their second drummer Michel Jonker has now his own band going called Entrapment whose sound is a crossover in between Nihilist, Asphyx and Death and the two are about to share a split EP together, to be released on Wolfsbane records.
Find Them: www.massiveassault.bandcamp.com
Revel In Flesh
Home Country: Germany
Date Of Birth: 2011
Last Release: Their third full-length Deathkult Legions, available in December
Level Of Swedishophily: Pretty high. The band’s de facto leader Ralf Hauber even got himself a Swedish-like nickname for it, Haubersson! Ralf himself is a former member of Immortal Rites, a now defunct band already enamoured with the Scandinavian scene. Although they have a solid dose of mournful melodies in their sound à la Dissection and there’s barely any D-beat/crust influences to be found in their music, their choice of moniker (Revel In Flesh being an early Entombed classic) made it clear where they stand. Ask Hauber and he’ll tell you himself that “we’re more Swedish than Ikea ah!”
Ralf’s First Swedeath Album: “Entombed’s second full-length, Clandestine in 1992, shortly followed by the Dismember debut Like An Everflowing Stream – two early Sunlight studios legends!”
Ralf’s Favourite Swedeath Album: “For me as teen back then; Like An Everflowing Stream was a totally ground-shaking album and I still love it. It’s filled with real death metal hits, a dark and brutal atmosphere, an awesome Dan Seagrave cover artwork and probably one of the most famous band promo pictures in the genre’s history!” He’s referring to that one session where all the band are topless and bathed in blood.
Why Should You Care: Having become a fully-fledged band in January 2013 with the addition of three new members coming from Graven or Deathvastation, they’ve become incredibly productive lately with three albums in three years and five split EPs, thanks to their guitar player’s home studio. The great thing about them is that you get the full package and when they’re not covering their elders (Autopsy, Manilla Road etc.), they salute them in their lyrics (see Deathkult). “Our band was designed from the start to follow the principles of classic death metal all the way, musically, lyrically and visually speaking. No compromise!”
Home Country: Belgium
Date Of Birth: 2008
Last Release: Their limited edition second EP, It Begins At Birth (2014)
Level Of Swedishophily: Pretty high, once again. They went as far asking the Sunlight studio guru Tomas Skogsberg (where all the classics had been recorded) to mix their debut EP four years ago – yet this time did hire fellow Swede Fredde from Massive Assault to do the (dirty) work. But if you ask their guitarist Raf Meukens, who also joined former Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings in Death Penalty on bass, he’d be the first to say that “it was our drummer Christophe who first came up with the idea of forming a classic style death metal band. We are very inspired by the Swedish scene but by other sources also. Of course, we love the intensity of the sound and how the HM-2 effect pedal just sounds like a chainsaw gone berserk. If that qualifies us to be called a typical ‘Swedeath’ act so be it, we don’t really care.”
Raf’s First Swedeath Album: “Actually I got into the extreme stuff through my brother. Keep in mind that I was just eight years old in 1990, so I remember of course Dismember and Entombed. But to be fair, the first band I got really into and I was aware was Swedish was actually Dissection.”
Raf’s Favourite Swedeath Album: “Well, Left Hand Path is maybe the most famous Swedish death metal album but it’s the earlier work of Nihilist and early Dismember that really get our blood pumping.”
Why Should You Care? Unlike most of their colleagues have stolen everything from Entombed’s rulebook, the lads in Torturerama have turned to Dismember for inspiration, including that specific morbid sense of melody and those cut-like-razor breaks. And simply put, as short as it is (less than 16 minutes) their latest four tracks EP is some of the best classic Swedeath we’ve heard so far this year.
Find Them: www.facebook.com/Torturerama