All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: November 4, 2018
The heyday of Death Metal was undoubtedly in the early nineties, especially the Florida and Sweden scenes. They both ruled and were highly influential on the development of Death Metal, inspiring many young musicians to start their own extreme and heavy groups.
The Swedish underground Death Metal scene produced loads of noteworthy bands during the late eighties and early nineties that released a pile of albums that left deep mark on the extreme Metal scene. Left Hand Path, Like an Everflowing Stream, Dark Recollections, Into the Grave, Unorthodox, Where No Life Dwells, The Awakening, etc. are just the tip of a huge iceberg of albums that were cornerstones for the Death Metal genre in general. Without those bands and albums, the Death Metal scene might be very different today.
The Metal Crypt thought it was time to praise the Swedish Death Metal scene of the early nineties and asked several musicians how they saw the rise of the new Metal sound in which the Swedes were pioneers. So, heja Sverige; you created a monster sound and we are here to praise it together.
Luxi: What were your thoughts the first time you heard classic albums like Entombed's Left Hand Path, Carnage's Dark Recollections, Dismember's Like an Everflowing Stream, etc.?
Rogga Johansson (PAGANIZER): I've always loved Dismember best, even though Carnage is maybe what I've been most influenced by, from the ones mentioned. Sorry to say, I was never a huge Entombed fan. They're great but they were never anything I really listened to much haha!
Andras Miklosvary (EARTHGRAVE): At the time those albums came out, I was pretty young, so I could not reflect on the music itself nor did I understand what was going on. I got all those tapes from my older cousin. Of course, later on in life, I revisited many classic albums including Like an Everflowing Stream, Left Hand Path, Across the Open Sea, You'll Never See ... and so forth. The Swedish scene's influence on extreme Metal is undeniable.
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): I think I started to discover the Swedish Death Metal scene through American bands, which were closer to Death/Doom Metal, such as Cianide and Incantation. I spent my teenage years very closely following and listening to Doom Metal in its different forms and the transition from Doom Metal to Death Metal happened without me realizing it through those "gateway" bands. To be honest, I always preferred the way heavier sound of Finnish and American Death Metal bands, but I still enjoy the buzzsaw sound of Swedish Death Metal from time to time! I guess alongside the "sound", I always liked the chaotic and merciless feel they conjured on those early records.
James McBain (LORD ROT): I think 2010 would be around the time I first heard the "classic" albums, so I would have been 15 at the time. My initial thoughts were that I loved the D-beat-driven music as opposed to the usual blast beats that dominated other Death Metal.
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): Those are all great albums that you mentioned right there. They had a great influence on me as a musician and also as a music recording engineer.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): I personally discovered Death Metal through Finnish, American and UK sources first. Maybe a bit from Brazil as well, as Sepultura paved my way from Thrash Metal to Death Metal. The Florida sound in particular was crucial; Morbid Angel, Obituary, and Deicide as was British Grindcore. The early releases of Sentenced and Amorphis became equally important and motivational when I discovered them, to know somebody was doing such high-quality Death Metal here in Finland. Maybe I could do that too, you know. After getting heavily into Amorphis and Sentenced, my mates introduced me to Edge of Sanity, which was probably the first Swedish Death Metal I heard. Unorthodox blew my mind and is still my favorite from them. Around the time my sister bought the copy of Like an Everflowing Stream by Dismember and a friend of mine loaned me Wolverine Blues from Entombed. So, yeah, I was a bit late onto Swedish Death Metal, but it left a life-long impact nevertheless. The sound, the specific way of delivering riffs in an almost punky fashion—it set the new standard. Of those very early Swedish Death Metal albums, Like an Everflowing Stream is by far my favorite. It has a wider variety of drumbeats and grooves in it, not just the constant 2-beat, which I have always found a bit boring when played too much. In here lies also the biggest difference between for example Left Hand Path and Like an Everflowing Stream, which makes the latter my absolute favorite, the more varied songwriting of it.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I was aware of all those bands when they were still at the demo stage. Nihilist/Entombed was always my favorite. They were frighteningly good, and you just knew they were going to achieve great things. When Left Hand Path was released, it blew me away. It was tight, really well played (especially the drums), heavy and brutal, yet well written and memorable from start to finish. The guitars are super-heavy and buzzy, but the overall production is clear (no cavernous production nonsense here—back then bands actually wanted to sound good!) and just completely crushing. This is the album that defined Swedish Death Metal, basically. As much as I like the other bands mentioned in the question, in addition to a ton more from Sweden, I think Entombed was untouchable with their first two albums, Left Hand Path and Clandestine.
Vesa Mutka (SADISTIK FOREST): I personally missed the first underground period of Swedish Death Metal largely due to my age but looking back to it now it feels I have always owned left Hand Path by Entombed. So, it was there REALLY early on when I got into them. After Left Hand Path the more melodic approach in Swedish Death Metal started to interest me further. My Walkman was soon loaded with albums like The Spectral Sorrows by Edge of Sanity, or the Until Eternity Ends EP by them. After discovering Edge of Sanity, Left Hand Path visited my Walkman less and less and when I landed a part-time summer job a little bit later, I invested a big chunk of the money I had made in traveling to Sweden to buy everything Edge of Sanity had released. Purgatory Afterglow was their latest album at the time. Only a couple of months later the whole melodic Death Metal thing took over and those Edge of Sanity albums I now owned kept bringing people with empty cassette tapes over to our house almost on a daily basis.
Wim de Vries (GRIM FATE): I think Entombed was the first one that I heard. I got it from a friend on tape and it was totally different from everything else I had heard to that point. That guitar sound was so brutal, and the songs were really straightforward. Man, I really loved that album! After that, I got in touch with Unleashed, Grave, Carnage, and Dismember. Dismember's Like an Everflowing Stream really stood out for me, that album was brutal and had great melodies at the same time. To this day that is still a favorite.
James Genenz (JUNGLE ROT): Those early Swedish Death Metal albums were CRUCIAL to me. I had never heard such a tone before when I first got those Nihilist demos in the late '80s. Then when Left Hand Path came out it was just monstrous. There was nothing heavier. The guitar tone was just beyond what was happening at the time. I personally loved all those albums when they came out. I still listen to them to this day.
Tony Aguilar (NARTHRAAL): If I'm going to be completely honest then I have to say that I cringed back in the days when those albums came out due to the fact that I was mainly into Thrash Metal during the '90s. Now today I think they are the most important albums in the history of Death Metal.
Raúl Weaver (MASS BURIAL): Well, I was 14 back in those days and got to know about those releases through Metal Hammer (which was the magazine that I always bought and read). I was young and had only been listening to Metal music for about two years, so I was growing with Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal, too. But as I was growing, I needed more extreme sounding music and only one or two years later, I started with Death Metal and then I was discovering those and many other bands as well.
Anyway, I remember listening to some songs off from Left Hand Path just when it was released through a local radio we had here, and I was astonished but I had no friends listening to that kind of music that I could get tapes from them, plus I had no money to buy vinyl either.
Claudio Hernández (MAGNANIMVS): The first time I heard these albums was in '95 or '96. I knew about their existence but was more focused on the American Death Metal sound of the time, mainly because that was what we heard in our country in terms of Death Metal. Of the three, Left Hand Path from Entombed was the first one that we heard. A friend who was a fan of Swedish Death Metal brought them to play for us and it was clear something was completely different about the guitars, rhythmic composition and percussion characteristics of the sounds coming out of Sunlight Studio. In the case of Carnage this band came to us via friends who are fans of Carcass. This is a pioneering album in Swedish Death Metal but in Chile it was hard to find Carnage material vs. Gothenburg bands like At The Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity that appealed to the taste of Chilean bangers. With Dismember it was similar to Entombed. It was easier to get since the distribution was by Nuclear Blast which has a branch in America.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): I knew the bands very well at the time. The Norwegian and Swedish scene was one at this point. We met and hung out and played shows together. My band, Cadaver, was signed to Earache Records and our first album, Hallucinating Anxiety, was released as a split CD with Carnage's Dark Recollections. I regard both Michael and Johan as friends to this day.
We were mighty impressed by the Swedish musicianship and the quality of the songwriting. They were miles ahead of us in many ways. The sound of the Entombed guitarist, Uffe, was the key to their unique guitar sound as far as I remember. He just put everything on 10 on a Boss Heavy Metal box through a Peavy amp and there it was. My own sound was shaped by Celtic Frost, Kreator and Mayhem—Marshall amp with a Boss distortion or Ibanez Tube screamer as my choice. I never adopted the Swedish way as it was the Swedish way.
Edu (ATARAXY): Those were, of course, some of the first Death Metal albums I ever heard. I liked the distinctive guitar sound and the simple drumming. I guess that, even if those albums weren't as dark and twisted as many American (or even Finnish) albums, I liked how they were very catchy in their own way.
Herb Burke (DRAWN AND QUARTERED): I am pretty sure Left Hand Path was the first for me—I got it about as soon as it was released. My initial thoughts? Probably "holy shit!" The crushing guitars! The pounding drums! The vocal savagery! And the production which was somehow clean and still dirty at the same time. I listened to it a lot, that's for sure.
I also loved other Scandinavian Death Metal records of the time, like Soulside Journey, Slumber of Sullen Eyes or World Without God. Back then, I more lumped them all into the same category, rather than "Swedish" vs whatever.
Jasse von Hast (TOMB OF FINLAND): It was sometime in the fall of 1990. Left Hand Path was the first one I heard. Then came Carnage (pre-Dismember) and Dismember with unique riffs, and, of course, Grave. They sounded very different from other Death Metal bands back in those days. After listening many US Death Metal bands before, the Swedish guitar sound was something very different and unique.
Luxi: Prior to the Swedish Death Metal scene fully exploding and bringing us some monstrously brutal Death Metal albums, did you follow what was happening in the Swedish underground tape trading scene with bands like Nihilist (now Entombed), Macrodex, Carnage, Dismember, Excruciate, Corpse (later Grave), Merciless and the like? Were you impressed with any of those bands back then?
Rogga Johansson (PAGANIZER): No, not at all. I'm several years younger and I lived in the countryside, so I didn't get into the tape trading or pick up any of the earliest demos. Instead as a kid, I listened to Heavy Metal, Thrash and stuff like S.O.D.'s Speak English or Die, which to me is one of the best albums of all time.
Andras Miklosvary (EARTHGRAVE) It must have been hard to follow such bands (in their early stage) unless you were part of the whole thing. We're talking about pre-Internet times, so basically, fanzines and snail mail were the only options to spread the word. I have heard At the Gates and Nihilist demos. Really sweet stuff!
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): Due to my younger age, I was in no way part of the tape trading scene. I have found all that I needed to find through the miracle of the internet.
James McBain (LORD ROT): Unfortunately, being born in 1995 means that I missed the explosion of the scene, haha!
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): From those days, names such as Entombed, Dismember Carnage, and Grave got my attention.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): Unfortunately (due to my age), I jumped a bit late into Swedish Death Metal. Around the times of Nihilist, I was still into Alice Cooper and ZZ Top and was only to discover Heavy Metal music through Iron Maiden a bit later.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): Teemu and I were playing in a Death/Thrash band called Phlegethon from 1988 to 1992, and Teemu, as our main contact, was quite actively tape-trading and keeping in touch with other bands and people of the scene. So, we got to hear a lot of these bands pretty early on. He did the dirty job, got a bunch of tapes, and the rest of us recorded the cream of the crap for ourselves [*laughs*]. If I'm not horribly mistaken the Hymns of the Dead—Vol 1. compilation tape was one our first tastes of Swedish underground extreme Metal. Obviously, we knew Bathory and stuff like that, but what lay beneath it was still to be explored. Merciless, Grave and Dismember became some of our instant favorites from the neighbor country. It wasn't long until Carbonized, Unleashed and Afflicted Convulsion/Afflicted were also on a heavy rotation in our end. So many great bands from that era!
Wim de Vries (GRIM FATE): To be honest, I started to dislike the Swedish scene pretty fast, since from their third album on most bands started to suck and at that time so much was happening that I started focusing on what was happening in other countries. Later when I got a bit bored by everything that was coming out I was diving back into history and found all these great bands I was missing out on like Nirvana 2000, God Macabre, etc.
James Genenz (JUNGLE ROT): I remember having cassettes and demos from all those bands. I still have them in storage. I followed everything I could get my hands on. I wrote to hundreds of bands and ordered demos and traded tapes. That's how the scene was back then. You had to dig around to find these bands. You had to hand-write letters and send paper flyers to spread the word. No Internet, no mp3s, Bandcamp, etc. That was a magical time. I met friends as pen pals all over the world that I am still friends with to this day! Back when you could send a cassette tape overseas and it didn't cost you an arm and a leg. I miss those days, I miss the magic of Death Metal being fresh.
Tony Aguilar (NARTHRAAL): I didn't follow them at all, to be honest. And back then, the only Death Metal band that impressed me was Death.
Raúl Weaver (MASS BURIAL): As I told you before, I was too young and just had no idea about tape trading and stuff. Then, when I was able to save some money, I went to some local record shops (the glorious days when we had those physical shops), and bought just one album and listened to it until I learned the songs, the lyrics, etc. Good times.
Claudio Hernández (MAGNANIMVS): It is clear that the Swedish sound is very characteristic, both the distortion of guitars and the speed of the riffs. Each band has a unique atmosphere and that gave them an identity that made them sound different within the extreme Metal genre. To this day they continue to generate a legacy that passes from generation to generation. These "cult" releases were forerunners of what is being done today. Therefore yes! I was impressed when I heard these groups for the first time because I visualized that in the future a great scene would be generated that would live for a long time.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): As I mentioned, Entombed and Carnage stood out to me. Very different bands with highly skilled musicians. I liked Morbid, Grotesque, Dissection and Tiamat too, just not as much the others you mention. Dismember had their moments, but they sounded more like an Entombed clone than its own thing at the time.
Edu (ATARAXY): I was too young for that, but I do love all that late 80s stuff of Nihilist (all demos), Grave (especially Anatomia Corporis Humanis, 1989), Treblinka, Grotesque and many more.
Herb Burke (DRAWN AND QUARTERED): I followed it a lot—I was a voracious reader of underground literature—but I think at the time I was only able to get my hands on the demos from Macrodex and Grave. I probably ordered those from Wild Rags back in the day! Grave's Anatomia Corporis Humani is fucking deadly of course, that was really an epitome of TOTAL DEATH back then. Their albums never rose to that level for me though, of course, the debut is classic.
Jasse von Hast (TOMB OF FINLAND): I personally didn't follow the Swedish scene only. I was interested in all new bands coming from all parts of the world. I had friends who had good contacts with some scene people in Finland and abroad. They did some tape trading. So, a lot of information about interesting new bands came from them. There was also important radio program called Pääkallon Paikka, later Metalliliitto on a Finnish radio station hosted by Klaus Flaming. I found many new bands that way, too.
Luxi: Back in the early nineties, a phenomenon called "buzzsaw guitar sound" or "Stockholm Death Metal sound" or "Sunlight Sound" arose. The Boss HM-2 pedal, that 80s black and orange distortion pedal, was a major reason for that very unique guitar sound. Can you remember when you heard a guitar sound like that for the first time and what your reaction was?
Rogga Johansson (PAGANIZER): It must've been Dismember's first album. And yeah, it was and still is unique haha! There's something utterly cool about it, I guess that's why its survived and will keep surviving as well.
Andras Miklosvary (EARTHGRAVE): Oh yes! HM-2 is a legend these days. I own one myself (made in Japan). It was not just the "buzzsaw guitar sound" so to speak but also the ferocity and the attitude which those artists had. The riffs were quite straightforward and easy to headbang to. They were performed on heavily down-tuned guitars and had a certain groove. The combination of those factors provided a distinctive sound. Nowadays quite a few younger bands get the "Entombed sound" but do absolutely nothing with it. I don't know if it's because of nostalgia or what. I believe as a musician you always need to look forward and try to reinvent yourself in subtle ways otherwise it becomes stale quickly.
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): I think I first heard that guitar sound through Unleashed, Grave, Entombed or Dismember. I can't be sure. Those were the first bands I first checked out the classics of Swedish Death Metal. My first reaction was thinking of it as quite chaotic, restless and furious, fitting the music and atmosphere perfectly!
James McBain (LORD ROT): As stated previously, I first came across the Swedish sound in about 2010. I believe the first album I heard was Resurrection Through Carnage by Bloodbath and I recall loving the guitar tone. That's what led me to exploring the Swedish sound further, and thankfully the Internet introduced me to everything. My first favorite was Interment and I think that was around the time when they had just released their debut album as well as a compilation of their 90s demos.
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): I heard it first on a national Dutch radio station back in 1990. Back in those times, the national radio channel covered two hours all kinds of Metal music. I remember recording Entombed on tape from this broadcast. I really liked Metal and Entombed was the first Death Metal band that I liked.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): I think the first album that made me pay attention to this so-called "Swedish Death Metal sound" was Wolverine Blues by Entombed. Entombed really rubbed your face in that thick and powerful tone, you know. And it was even more genre-defining on Clandestine, which I believe has the ultimate HM-2 sound of all time. Maybe clearer in the production than it was on the demo days, but the thick punch of it manifested itself to me after hearing Clandestine in full. Back in the day, I was listening to quite a lot of different Death Metal; Florida sound, Finnish DM, Napalm Death, and peers—and it was really cool that all of them had a different sound and approach. This made the whole thing a lot more interesting and that fat HM-2 sound only helped to set the Swedish sound apart from the others and made the whole Death Metal scene more vibrant and alive.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I think I paid attention to that type of guitar sound on Left Hand Path, and of course, on albums that followed it. I think the guitar sound suited the music perfectly and sounded original. As much as I liked it, I certainly didn't want Phlegethon to have it. Swedish bands didn't have that much influence on us anyway.
Wim de Vries (GRIM FATE): The first time I heard that buzzsaw sound was when I listened to Entombed for the first time. That sound was so massive, so different than all other distorted guitar sounds. I thought it was really unique and so fucking brutal and massive. It actually destroys the whole fucking tone of the guitar and at the same time, it creates a really addictive sound.
James Genenz (JUNGLE ROT): The chainsaw buzzsaw tone. Man, that is sick! I owned a few HM-2's in my day. Of course, when we were kids we attempted to mimic the tones found on our favorite albums. I toyed with the HM-2 and got those tones, experimenting with different amplifiers and pedals. I remember trying to mimic the Obituary tone with the ProCo Rat pedal and the scooped mids, haha! Or trying to get that awesome distorted bass tone like Jeff Walker or Shane Embury. Again, those were fun times!
Tony Aguilar (NARTHRAAL): I do remember, and my initial reaction was just "wow!!"
Raúl Weaver (MASS BURIAL): I think it was Left Hand Path on the radio, as I mentioned before. But, to be honest, I still did not play the guitar, so I focused on the music and not on the sound. A year later, I bought my first guitar as I was interested in playing in a band. I wanted to play that type of music and I knew that I had to change the tuning but had no idea really that I needed a thicker gauge of strings and things like that. As far as that special distortion goes, I had Boss DS-1 (the orange one) and had no money for more.
Years later, when I was ready to begin Mass Burial, I had bought the famous HM-2 pedal. I was like, "hell yeah, this will rule".
Claudio Hernández (MAGNANIMVS): That guitar sound is really aggressive and representative of the Swedish Death Metal. Take for example the Left Hand Path record by Entombed. The guitar sound on that one is really incredible and a strong example of what one can create by using Boss HM-2. As we discussed before, everything is accompanied by incredible compositions merging that distorted guitar sound, with the excellent drumming of Nicke and demonic growls of L-G, certainly generates together that unique climate of the Swedish Death Metal sound.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): I had the pleasure of watching how Uffe set his instrument during sound check a few times and knew what he was doing. To me, it was a direct link to the sound of the first Possessed album, Seven Churches, and it was fucking great—but still, very unique in a way that made anyone who copied this sound like a copy. They managed to get a unique sound and the Norwegian scene went a different way to the Black Metal sound which was thin and totally different.
Edu (ATARAXY): I guess it was Left Hand Path, and I loved it. Very unique. Unfortunately, I feel like it's been overused now.
Herb Burke (DRAWN AND QUARTERED): Well yeah, again Left Hand Path. Such a heavy guitar sound! Though back then, at least around here, it was generally referred to as the "Sunlight Sound," since that's where all those records were coming from.
Jasse von Hast (TOMB OF FINLAND): It was Entombed—Left Hand Path.
It sounded very heavy, dirtier and darker than other bands. It really kicked our asses.
Luxi: Do you believe the Death Metal scene that we have today would sound completely different if the Swedes hadn't shown us how to make Death Metal even uglier, more brutal, and just crushing?
Rogga Johansson (PAGANIZER): Someone would have invented something similar, but I don't think we would have the sound totally as it is. The Swedish scene really did something that will forever be a part, and a leading part, of the aggressive music scene throughout time.
Andras Miklosvary (EARTHGRAVE): Maybe so. It's difficult to say. For example, MDM in Europe mostly stems from the Swedish scene, that's clear. Early At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Utumno, In Flames, etc.
So, it's not just about brutality. Incantation, Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Vader were/are just as brutal and influential to name a few.
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): Well, I guess the world would have been dominated by other scenes and bands would have taken more into their sounds. Also, I think there would be way less Melodic Death Metal bands without the Swedish Death Metal scene but let's not hold it against them, eh?
James McBain (LORD ROT): It would be different in some way for sure! Without the HM-2 sound, a lot of bands nowadays wouldn't exist or would sound totally different! Not just in Death Metal, but a lot of Hardcore/Grindcore bands are using that sound lately. The lyrics have also influenced a lot of bands and in my case, Grave and Entombed most of all.
A lot of the 90's Swedish bands offered different takes on the genre as well that have had a massive impact on Metal nowadays. Both Dismember and At The Gates offered different melodic takes on the style. Carnage and Entombed offered the punkier approach and bands like Edge of Sanity used a more "progressive" style.
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): The Swedes made Death Metal also more punk-ish, I'd say. That was a plus for me. It was easier to listen to because it didn't sound too complicated.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): Swedish and Scandinavian Death Metal, in general, played a huge role in how the Death Metal scene of today manifests itself. Swedish Death Metal brought a lot of hardcore and punk attitude to the sound where bands like Edge of Sanity were extending the sound with an even wider set of musical ideas. I personally hear a lot of Edge of Sanity in great modern-day bands like Horrendous, for example. But yeah, Death Metal would certainly be different today if the Swedes had not brought their thing to the sound like they did. I'd like to think that the "Swedish sound" was the third evolutionary step in Death Metal, after pioneering sounds of Death and Autopsy and the Grindcore mania of Carcass and Napalm Death. The Death Metal we have today is bound to have some or all of these elements in it. They, along with the technicality of Atheist, Demilich and Cynic maybe, is the whole venom of Death Metal as we know it.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): Probably. I mean, Swedish Death Metal has such a characteristic sound to it.
Vesa Mutka (SADISTIK FOREST): Swedish Death Metal certainly changed how people saw Death Metal, especially here in Finland. People always talk about the trademark sound of it, but there was also the experimental side to the whole thing as well, like Entombed doing a Roky Erickson cover! If you listen to Death Metal these days, it is hard to find anything in it that is NOT influenced by bands like Edge of Sanity, Dissection, and Entombed, or maybe even by more obscure Swedish bands like Unanimated, early Dark Tranquillity, and Ophthalamia.
Wim de Vries (GRIM FATE): That is hard to say. First of all, there was already Autopsy creating some filthy brutality and you'll never know what else would have happened. But it did happen and it for sure had a big impact on the Death Metal scene. Even today, lots of bands still use the HM-2 pedal and create music in the vein of the Swedish sound from the early '90s.
James Genenz (JUNGLE ROT): I can't even imagine a Death Metal scene without the Swedish side of it. Of course, there were multiple scenes spawning at the time, and I believe they influenced each other greatly. Florida had its sound, Chicago had its sound, Sweden, Finland, every place had a certain sound. As a huge fan at the time, I couldn't ignore the Swedish bands. I don't think anyone could. It was so in your face and original!
Tony Aguilar (NARTHRAAL): 110% sure it would sound different and most likely very stale and generic.
Raúl Weaver (MASS BURIAL): Probably because we talk about the ugly distortion of HM-2; a very important and trademark thing from Sweden. Although many of those Swedish bands sounded very brutal in the nineties, they also had a lot of melody to their sound. Compared to Florida's Death Metal sound, I would say the Swedes sounded somehow more, can I say, "musical", which is something I've always loved. This fact probably has influenced me a lot as well.
Vocals are also important. You can distinguish any Death Metal band from Sweden due to this certain vocal style. The Swedes growl like any other growlers in Death Metal bands, but in Sweden, every Death Metal band has its own vocal tone. You can recognize any Death Metal band just listening to the vocals. For example, American Death Metal bands often have deeper, grunting vocalists—and in my opinion, they all sound similar. Sometimes you could even say they use the same growler in every band.
Claudio Hernández (MAGNANIMVS): Undoubtedly, the Swedish Death Metal scene showed all of us, living in the subterranean side of Death Metal, how to play heavy and brutal Death Metal but at the same time melodic. Even today, a fusion of both downright brutal and melodic Death Metal is used by a lot of new Death Metal bands.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): I guess so. That time was unique as the music genre was taking a different shape with each new album. The excitement of "what's next" was in the air. Now the overall problem is the lack of innovation and the millions of bands who sound like the next band. The originality of the era cannot be beaten. What is regarded as extreme now is a totally different ballgame.
Edu (ATARAXY): To be honest, I don't think the Swedish scene was as influential as the American scene or as some English bands like Carcass or Napalm Death. But they definitely helped to keep the legacy of raw, pure Death Metal of bands like Autopsy and Carcass alive with that trademark Swedish sound of theirs.
Herb Burke (DRAWN AND QUARTERED): Not really. There were certainly other filthy Death Metal bands festering at the time... I feel like someone else would have ultimately thought of crossing Autopsy and Slayer! And production sounds progress with time too. Though the Swedes were worshipping Autopsy at a time when lots of others wouldn't really give them the time of day. Perhaps the sound would just have developed later. Perhaps we wouldn't have so many bands today recycling those same riffs...
Jasse von Hast (TOMB OF FINLAND): Yes, I agree with that. They really created something new and worth patenting in this genre. Nowadays, when millions of bands are using the same sound, it has lost something of its spark for sure.
Luxi: Which is the best Swedish Death Metal album from that early ninety's era and why? Is it a "perfect" album?
Rogga Johansson (PAGANIZER): To me, one of the first albums isn't by far the best one. To me, Edge of Sanity's The Spectral Sorrows is probably the best album of all time when it comes to Swedish sounding Death Metal or Death Metal at all. It's just such a killer album in all ways, and I guess the funny thing regarding this, I mean in this context of the question, is that it doesn't have the HM-2 buzzsaw sound at all, haha!
Andras Miklosvary (EARTHGRAVE): Tough one. I would go with Dismember's Like an Everflowing Stream for sentimental reasons. I don't think there's such thing as perfect album but it's pretty damn good for what it is!
Kari Kankaanpää (SOLOTHUS): Hmmm. It is a very tough call between Grave's Into the Grave and Dismember's Like an Everflowing Stream. I think that Dismember's Like an Everflowing Stream takes the victory here. Through the years Dismember has become a more important band to me, which has raised the value in my eyes for their debut album. We have even covered Dismember's "Sepulchral Curse" live. Overall Like an Everflowing Stream is a brilliant album with awesome riffs and intense atmosphere. The phenomenal cover art ties up the album making it very close to perfection when it comes to Swedish Death Metal!
James McBain (LORD ROT): My favorite by far is Like an Everflowing Stream by Dismember. The overall sound is just crushing and there is just the perfect amount of melody in there. The songwriting is second to none and "Override of the Overture" has got to be one of the best opening tracks to an album ever! I'm not sure I would call it a perfect record (I'm not sure I would call any record perfect in fact) but it's damn close!
Fredde Kaddeth (MASSIVE ASSAULT): Entombed's Left Hand Path. The sound is perfect on that album! Actually, the only band that came pretty close to LHP sound wise, was Nirvana 2002 on the Projections of a Stained Mind compilation-CD. But yeah, Left Hand Path sounds just perfect, I really like the atmosphere on that record very much!
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): My personal favorite of the early 90's Swedish Death Metal albums is Wolverine Blues by Entombed. It is a game changer of an album that defied the norm they had set themselves only a couple of years earlier. This is how a genuine pioneer works. Through evolving and experimenting, never satisfied with what already exists. Wolverine Blues is heavy, groovy and has lots of different musical elements to it. Direct, brutal Death Metal of "Eyemaster" and "Demon", the incredible heaviness of "Rotten Soil" and the title track and the eerie aspect of songs like "Contempt". No wonder this album has been the main body of their live sets every time I have seen Entombed live through the years. It is not the best Death Metal record of all times but on my personal TOP 5 list for sure!!
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I wouldn't say 100% perfect, because that title belongs to Death's Leprosy and Consuming Impulse by Pestilence, but Left Hand Path and Clandestine are my faves from Sweden, because of the high-quality of songwriting, musicianship, and production. Also, the pioneering status that those albums hold—especially the first one—is respectable. I think the downside of Swedish Death Metal was that too many bands aped the same sound; same studio, same producer, same damn distortion pedal...
Despite the copycats, the small country of Sweden managed to produce so many talented, original and groundbreaking bands that it´s quite amazing, really. And the influence of those great, early bands is still strong.
Vesa Mutka (SADISTIK FOREST): It has to be The Spectral Sorrows by Edge of Sanity. That album has a great variety to it, not just a constant HM-2 riff attack. I liked the drum tone a lot, the experimental nature of the album and the whole production of it in general. I think it does not have a single weak song in it.
Wim de Vries (GRIM FATE): Dismember's Like an Everflowing Stream is the best thing to ever come out of Sweden, with Carnage's Dark Recollection as a close second. From the moment "Override to Overture" kicks off with this fast fucked up riff you just want more of it and when it ends the only option is to play it again. But even though it's a pretty brutal record, it's packed with so many great riffs and 17 years later it's still in regular rotation, that says it all I guess.
James Genenz (JUNGLE ROT): That is just too hard a question to answer with one album. I've never been a fan of absolutes, and I can't say one album is the best because they all have their merits for me. Left Hand Path, of course, was the album that introduced the majority of the world to that awesome buzzsaw sound, but those of us that had all those early Swedish demos knew that tone was sick before that album came out. I adore everything about those Entombed demos and first two albums. Carnage was incredible. With Merciless, that The Awakening album was sick! Dismember's first album was awesome, but I connected way more with Indecent and Obscene. That album is pure fucking vitriol and hate! So angry and brutal!
Tony Aguilar (NARTHRAAL): Like an Everflowing Stream with Dismember and Massive Killing Capacity also with Dismember. Why, because I love their brutality mixed with cheesy melodies and Matti's voice is just to die for!
Raúl Weaver (MASS BURIAL): This is the hardest question here, hehe! Well, I love Entombed and Left Hand Path is a milestone of an album, but, in my opinion, Clandestine is better. The only problem is that the title track "Left Hand Path" is so fucking awesome that you can choose that album only for that song alone, but maybe I will still stick to Clandestine out of those two albums.
Also, I have always been a fan of Dismember. I love that band. I could not tell you exactly when I discovered them, but they are my favorites without any doubt. As I told you regarding the melodies before, Dismember is a perfect example of that. They have Heavy Metal melodies, harmonies, etc. in their songs. They have it all in one band.
Like an Everflowing Stream is just a killer album and their follow-up album, Indecent and Obscene is pure perfection. I have no words to describe it any better than this.
Claudio Hernández (MAGNANIMVS): I could name many bands like Unleashed, Carbonized. Liers In Wait, At The Gates, Unanimated, Entombed, etc. that released lots of great stuff back in the day. But my choice is Grotesque, and their Incantation EP, released in 1990. It is perfect from the beginning to the end, containing material full of dark atmospheres, the awesome voice of Tomas Lindberg and absolutely fantastic guitars by Kristian Wåhlin. It's a perfect release in many ways and also a really iconic underground release as well.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): Left Hand Path by Entombed was the game changer. They had the best songs and the best production—It's unbeatable!!
Edu (ATARAXY): Into the Grave is the heaviest and darkest Swedish Death Metal album to me, and my favorite. But Left Hand Path is still the genre-defining, undisputed king of the Swedish chainsaw sound. All songs are great and if I ever had to explain someone the Swedish sound with just one album, it would have to be Left Hand Path.
Herb Burke (DRAWN AND QUARTERED): Hmmm ... probably Left Hand Path at the time. Today, Like an Everflowing Stream. Overall, I think Dismember have remained closest to their roots, and their later albums are quite underrated I think—Hate Campaign and Where Ironcrosses Grow might actually be my favorites.
I wouldn't say any are 100% perfect (though I'd put Hate Campaign close!). After years listening to the classic debuts, "flaws" just become part of the recording, and even maybe a positive quality in time. But I think there's always room to make something just a little better.
Jasse von Hast (TOMB OF FINLAND): Very hard to choose just one album, but if one should be picked up, then I would go with Entombed's Left Hand Path. On that album I was introduced by the famous buzzsaw sound for the first time, and oh man, it hit straight in your face and it still hurts. For me personally, it's 100% perfect Death Metal release.
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