Demilich ‘Nespithe’ Legendary – 95%

This album is a hidden gem and a lost classic. Think back to early Scandinavian extreme metal and one immediately thinks of Sweden – Bathory, Nihilist, Dismember, Entombed and so on; Finland rarely comes into it.

Well this album shatters any myths that it was all about Sweden. This album is the missing link between European and US death metal. Amazing in its ability to fuse grotesquely guttural, heavy, loose death metal with psychedelic and avante garde technical metal. The mix is seamless.

Nespithe sounds like a mix of Mental Funeral era Autopsy, Necroticism era Carcass, and Unquestionable Presence era Atheist. Intricate riffs and pounding blast beats are merged perfectly with complex rhythms and time changes that keep the listener hooked, not knowing what to expect next.

This sounds nothing like any ‘technical death metal’ I have ever heard. Short(ish) track times, nothing fancy like Cynic or later Death and no ridiculous fret-wankery. This is way heavier and more evil. It sounds like Autopsy on acid.

The overall production is superb and for such and underground release it is a real surprise.

The guitar sound is deep and rich, corrosive and stacked with reverb. The playing is superb and I can hear similarities between the playing of Boman and Hytönen to that of Schaefer and Burkey from Atheist, and Mameli and Uterwijk of Pestilence. It’s technical, but at the same time it never loses that loose feel that is so typical of Scandinavian death metal.

The drumming is beautifully fluid throughout the album, reminding me of Chris Reifert and Nicke Andersson. Mikko Virnes puts in a great performance, easily mixing jazz-orientated rhythms with blast beats and doom-outs. His performance is excellent, as is the drum sound.

With the bass guitar virtually non-existent it really is the rhythm guitar and drums which are the backbone of this recording. The production is crystal clear, but at the same time it sounds like it was recorded in a cave, deep underground, adding an atmospheric eeriness to the proceedings.

A lot is said about Antti Boman’s vocals and while they are totally OTT – the most guttural vocals I have ever heard (the closest comparison I can think of is Bill Steer’s vocals for early Carcass, but way deeper than that) – they do not detract from the music at all. That said, for me, they don’t add a huge amount, reason being that they are undecipherable and, more importantly, the music is so captivating, so all consuming, that I barely hear the vocals. They are fairly low in the mix but sound quite detached from the other instrument tracks as well. I listen to this whole album and barely hear the vocals. It has to be said, though, that if they really were effect-free then they are undoubtedly the most outrageous vocals ever recorded.

In addition to the great music, the track titles are hilarious – “The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son of Fourteen Four-Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed)”, and “Inherited Bowel Levitation – Reduced Without Any Effort”. It hints at the fact that they didn’t take things (including themselves) too seriously.

I’m conscious of the fact that this review may make it seem as though the album is just a mix of Atheist, Carcass, Autopsy etc, but I have to say, while I can hear elements of those outfits in Demilich’s music, this band is one of the most singularly original extreme metal acts ever to grace this rotten stage.

The band has made the whole album available for free download from its website, along with demos, rehearsals and live material, due to it getting shafted by Necropolis which didn’t pay them royalties for sales of the reissue. It’s a shame that they were put in the position where they felt they had to do this, but at the same time it means you have no excuse whatsoever for not listening to Demilich.

Download the album, check it out and then please seek out a proper copy of the album – you won’t be disappointed.

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