The rules: No Gothenburg melodeath allowed. Old-school death fuckin’ metal only – nothing after 1994. This is just Part 2 of an ongoing series, more will follow! If you haven’t heard these albums, you need to have a few harsh words with yourself. That is all. Thank you for reading.
Presented in order of release as opposed to any of kind ranking….
Dismember – Like An Everflowing Stream (1991)
Alongside Entombed’s Left Hand Path, Dismember’s Like An Everflowing Stream is one of the most crucial documents of the pioneering Swedish death metal scene. Establishing a format and sound that’s still retro-fitted by a legion of bands to this very day, Like An Everflowing Stream is often replicated in a fruitless attempt to invoke the same response this primitive beast induced back in 1991.
Featuring the obligatory downtuned, ultra-distorted guitar and bass riffs – ably backed by Matti Karki’s feral barks, inhuman gurgles and animalistic roars – this is the sound of Scandinavian death metal perfected and each and every song on this all-time classic still slays, grinding its way into your sub-conscience with each serrated buzzsaw riff.
The best thing to ever come out of Sweden? Probably.
Grave – Into The Grave (1991)
Agonisingly aggressive one minute, irresistibly groovy the next, Grave have always been the (relatively) unsung heroes of Swedish death metal’s pioneering generation, despite their initial contributions rivalling the early works of Unleashed, Edge Of Sanity and Cemetary!
As pure as they come – and stunningly effective without being labelled ‘simple – Into The Grave‘s ever-undulating, meaty grooves and guttural growls immediately had an impact, with the sheer commitment in which they were delivered indisputable and, often, unrivalled.
“Deformed” and the title track are the acknowledged classics, ably the supplying the well crafted, blue-collar-esque, foundations on which Swedish death metal was built.
Pan.Thy.Monium – Dawn Of Dreams (1992)
As progressive a death metal band as they come, Pan.Thy.Monium‘s debut was the polar opposite of the output from Entombed, Dismember, Grave etc. That being said, Dawn Of Dreams was still resolutely Swedish death metal in spirt but you wouldn’t have found L.G. Petrov and co. throwing free jazz saxophone into the mix!
Opening with a 21+ minute track was also against the norm and “Untitled” (all 7 tracks on Dawn Of Dreams are titled “Untitled” incidentally) was otherworldly – alien even – and took death metal into realms hitherto unexplored. The remainder of the album was slightly more accessible, unfolding in a series of six shorter vignettes which were just as progressive but blessed with a stronger sense of groove and old-school death metal / death-doom mentality.
Dawn Of Dreams retains the power to leave you speechless….even 30 years after the fact!
Desultory – Into Eternity (1993)
Into Eternity was the debut album from the perennially undervalued Desultory and despite its obscure nature, this is an album of considerable importance – and considerable skill – from Sweden’s early 90’s death metal scene!
Sure, Into Eternity essentially repeated the same formula over and over – much like the majority of their compatriots – but when your thrashy, semi-melodic, semi-progressive death metal is as uniformly consistent and consistently impressive as this, variety can fuck off!
At this stage in their career, Desultory were the equals of their more famous peers and with an abundance of soaring, clean leads and expressive bass lines, Into Eternity is an album that should be celebrated for perfectly combining a keen sense of melody with ultimate aggression
God Macabre – The Winterlong… (1993)
God Macabre’s only album arrived fully formed in 1993, and while they never managed to record a follow-up, it is testament to the quality of this obscure gem that we’re still talking about it all these years later.
God Macabre’s reign may have been short but it was decidedly sweetand The Winterlong’soccult horror atmosphere – enriched with a diversity often found wanting in death metal – means this intricate, varied, complex and bold album retains its allure.
Connoisseurs of death metal know exactly how good this one of a kind album really is….while a welcome surprise awaits the uninitiated!
Hypocrisy – Osculum Obscenum (1993)
Peter Tägtgren’s Hypocrisy were a Swedish anomaly from the start, heavily influenced by the sounds emanating from America (Tägtgren resided in the US in the late 80’s / early 90’s) and delivered a far more focused, technically proficient exercise in barbaric brutality.
The result was Osculum Obscenum; the sound of pure evil, with elements of black metal seeping in via Masse Broberg’s unholy screeches and an intermittent use of atmospheric keyboards.
The result was an album that neither nestled alongside those in the Swedish death metal ranks nor the devilish cacophony (namely Deicide) emanating from the United States, resulting in its ‘black sheep of the family’ status.
Also in this series:
The next part in this series is already in the works! However, that shouldn’t stop you from adding your favourite old-school Swedish Death Metal albums to the comments below!
Check out The Worship Metal Podcast‘s demonically delicious death metal discussion for more on Swedish Death Metal ….