Some people say that I look back upon the short-lived career of Demilich with rose-colored lenses. I’ve heard people tell me that the band was more hype than ability, and that Nespithe wasn’t even that good of an LP to begin with. Of course, these are the same people who get extremely offended when I say that Sunbather by Deafheaven isn’t Black Metal, and that, regardless of how many critics think it’s the future of extreme music, I don’t see what’s so great about a record full of angst-ridden, Alt-Rock infuse hipster bullshit. Demilich might be known more for Antti Boman’s extremely low-pitched “Swamp Thing with a sore throat” vocals than for anything else, but in terms of their music, they were ahead of their time. Before bands like Necrophagist, Embryonic Devourment or Origin, there was Demilich. Technical Brutal Death Metal didn’t exist as a genre of its own when Nespithe was released in 1993. That didn’t come until much later. Now, I’m not a big fan of Technical Brutal Death Metal. I think that the bulk of it is needlessly overcomplicated and it’s borderline musical masturbation more often than not. I do, however, make allowances for Demilich because they were trying to be different in an era when everyone wanted to be either Entombed or Morbid Angel (depending on which side of the Atlantic Ocean they were on). Their music was dark and twisted, and though it was technical, it had an atmosphere that was unique at the time. This 2CD release is a compilation of all of the band’s history, dating back to their original demo material through the last recordings made during their brief reunion. If you’re like me and you already own Nespithe, the additional recordings are definitely worth it because not only do you have their one and only LP, you have their full discography in one collection. You can track the band’s evolution, and though the music does sound a bit uneven in places although it has all been remastered (including Nespithe), it’s still an interesting listen. The newest recordings are the best sounding, but the older tracks still sound pretty good in comparison. Fans of Technical Brutal Death Metal will probably get the most out of this compilation, though old-school Death Metal fans who remember Nespithe will like it, too. If there is one thing that keeps this from complete awesomeness, it’s the fact that Demilich wasn’t around long enough to have an extensive discography. Many of the songs are repeated several times, having been recorded and then re-recorded again over the years. Each version sounds a bit different, but ultimately you’re hearing some stuff over and over again. Still, as a fan of the band, I didn’t mind that too much. I went in knowing what this was, but I still wanted to hear it anyway. I know that a full-length album with new material is probably never going to happen (though the band has reunited several times over the years), but a release like 20th Adversary of Emptiness keeps me hoping.
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If the evolution of technical metal had payed more attention to Demilich and less to Suffocation (nothing against them) and jazz I think more of it would be worth listening to.
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