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Indecent & Obscene

Sweden Country of Origin: Sweden

1. Fleshless
2. Skinfather
3. Sorrowfilled
4. Case # Obscene
5. Souldevourer
6. Reborn In Blasphemy
7. Eviscerated (Bitch)
8. 9th Circle
9. Dreaming In Red


Review by TheOneNeverSeen on June 21, 2023.

Dismember’s sophomore record marks a significant change in the band’s approach. While their beloved debut "Like an Everflowing Stream" had a more mysterious and paranormal feeling, this one is a plain and relentless bloodbath (the latter is ironic considering the guitar tone here is probably what inspired one of my favorite Swedish death metal releases – Bloodbath’s "Resurrection Through Carnage"). The guitar sound is even more vicious than before, the gut-wrenching riffs are excellent in their unbridled rage, and the overall feeling of overwhelming rampage is something not many bands of the time can match.

Starting off with a crushing riff of the song with a quite creative name (well, I mean, it was creative for the time when the album was released) "Fleshless" and Matti’s wicked scream, "Indecent and Obscene" instantly blasts you with the might of its thick yet still raw guitars, which is its main strength. Even though they are more likely to draw your attention than anything else, the drums are also very good, and so are the vocals, which, in my opinion, are still the weakest element of Dismember’s music (despite fitting the overall sound, they don’t seem very original to me) but have improved since "Like an Everflowing Stream" and even offer some cool screams like the one at 4:29 of "Reborn in Blasphemy" (but also the hilarious "biiiiiitch" on "Eviscerated (Bitch)"). While I would’ve liked this album even if all songs were written in the style of "Fleshless" and "Case # Obscene", I appreciate the band’s attempts to diversify its melodies, since it makes "Indecent and Obscene" even more remarkable. On the second track, "Skinfather", for instance, the riff following the sample and Matti’s brutal and at the same time comic "why don’t you just kill yourself?" in the middle is surprising and absolutely mind-blowing (I would even say it sounds more like a heavy than a death metal type of riff to me). The acoustic passage around the middle of "Reborn in Blasphemy" being abruptly dismembered (I’m a comedy king, I know) by the rest of the instruments kicking in and followed by an excellent engrossing melody, the comic piano in the end of "Eviscerated (Bitch)" and the apocalyptic melodeath "Dreaming in Red" (by the way, is it just me or does the first half of the intro riff of this song sound way too similar to Arch Enemy’s "The Eagle Flies Alone"?) are all good examples of Dismember’s creativity on this work.

The only element of the album that is not as enjoyable to me is its lyrics which are mostly uniform and uninteresting. The only song that stands out in that sense is "Case # Obscene", the lines "The gate, your portal to life, falters and grows weak. Your sense of reality somewhat distorted" and "I weep for your souls until they're dust and memories, forgotten eternally" are quite epic. But, considering the lyrics aren’t particularly bad, either, the standard i-will-kill-you-all death metal rage, I won’t be very critical of them.

So, Dismember’s second release is a brilliant death metal record – furious, powerful and definitely indecent and obscene. Probably my favorite Swedish death metal record of the 90s after "The Fourth Dimension" and "Burning Bridges".

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

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Review by Rosh on February 14, 2022.

Some say death metal peaked in 1993, but that was from a popularity standpoint, the snippet of time that spawned slightly commercialized best-sellers like Covenant. Still excellent of course, but not quite as lethally forward-thinking as 1989-91, (old school) death metal's objective creative peak. What you can gather from this is that 1993 was before most of the big pioneers, from each regional scene, had really ditched their original, extreme sound, but the '90/'91 debut album alumni like these were often hit hard by the sophomore slump phenomenon. A couple of the Metal Archives regulars pumping out reviews for OSDM demos in the past several years (you know who you are!) put it into words best - essentially, when you have a raw, truly gnarly and rancid genre like death metal, it's totally plausible to put out your best material on even a rehearsal demo. Therefore, by time you hit the studio, you've already reached a level of, I guess, maturity? Something that was (initially) unlikely for a genre like this, and something that is tackled in the Choosing Death book I've recently been perusing.

Regarding the European death metal scene, however, and particularly Scandinavia, I see even the most diehard OSDM dudes going straight for the debuts. This is in contrast to how they usually approach the American pioneers, often being more keen on bringing up pre-Altars and pre-SBG material right off the bat. Now, demos from nearly every scene in extreme music are very singificant and shouldn't be overlooked, but I think circumventing the demos in favor of the debut full-lengths is particularly hit-or-miss with Scandinavian death metal. I don't really have an all-encompassing theory as to why, rather just anecdotal evidence. Because, in my opinion: the Nihilist demos are at least up there with "Left Hand Path", lesser-known Swedes like Excruciate and Crematory made some truly awesome works before releasing an album/EP, and across the border, Finnish death metal is just twisted all around and hardly misses a chance to fuck your world up on any release. Yet, on the flip side, I think "Into The Grave" is an ultimate, culminating statement that expands upon the already rotten Grave demos, "Raped In Their Own Blood" was Vomitory's best work up to that long-awaited moment in 1996, and to the point of this review, Dismember's Like An Everflowing Stream debut from 1991 is genuinely the best place to start with them.

Yep, LAES is just too damn good, too damn classy, not to fall in love with immediately. Classic mosh-inducing opener, dangerous and enraged scorchers, a touch of melody, dense sounding but still accessible, just beautiful violence. So, already, Dismember had thoroughly proved themselves by time they put out their debut and reached that stage of "maturity." That's no small feat in and of itself, but the two follow-up efforts to their debut are even more essential for me. They are nowhere near as immediate with the bangers they offer, and are therefore more "growers." The 1992 EP is very well respected despite its briefness, but Indecent & Obscene, the sophomore album, is a little more overlooked. Some call it a sophomore slump, and admittedly, neither the songwriting nor the production goes for the throat quite as much, but it is a more paced album and depending on how much you value a highly consistent, no-filler album experience, it might just be your favorite Dismember release too.

I'll contradict myself here because objectively speaking, not "going for the throat" is a completely false statement once you listen to the first 7 seconds of Indecent & Obscene. 'Fleshless', 'Skinfather', 'Sorrowfilled', each of these first few songs are all mean and bitter as hell despite having some of that melody, and a lot of that catchiness, that Dismember largely pioneered in death metal. 'Skinfather' is a Dismember standard that breaks midway through for Matti to yell a particularly edgy statement, and this moment is an examplary case of calculatedly applying the brakes in a death metal song without losing any intensity - they've run you over at full speed, now they brake suddenly to send you flying forward, only to roll over you again and leave you a broken heap. The fourth track is maybe slightly less of a banger, but it's still such a likeable song (with a more reasonable message about censorship than you'd expect from... Dismember) that by time the unrelenting intro of one of my most-played Dismember cuts, 'Souldevourer', gives way to a melodic break preceding the verse, you can confidently say this was a flawless A-side.

The aforementioned melodic break in 'Souldevourer' is one of the best examples of what I mean when I say this album is fairly paced despite its consistent intesnity. '9th Circle' is also a brilliant example of that. Cool song all throughout, but the "MOTHERFUCKER! Who told you hell was warm?!" at the end is just too, too fucking badass. Bravo, only Matti and maybe the guy from Entrails can deliver lines like that - it is so distinctly Swedish. It also hints at Dismember's formula that would become evident on their last couple albums, which are also excellent for the most part. I guess "pacing" might also be used to describe the mid-paced, quasi-melodeath of the closer 'Dreaming In Red', which is also a Dismember standard. I don't absolutely love this song like I do many of the other ones I've talked about in depth, but there's really no other way to conclude a beast of an album like this, so it absolutely does not detract from the power of this 1993 masterwork.

Finally, the musicianship of the entire band here is just so on point and jumps out to me like nothing else, even more so than technically marvelous death metal albums from this era. It's mostly just solid if unremarkable tremolo riff barrages, but the tight performances sell it, and Fred Estby is a legendary, overpowering drummer. Matti, meanwhile is not a fully deep death growler. There's hoarse yells in there, but it's the right kind that doesn't sound at all half-assed in death metal. The vocals carry emotional weight, and the annunciation is both precise and stylish.

Indecent & Obscene is perhaps not Swedish death metal's ultimate statement from a purely canonical standpoint, but I can hardly think of a more exhilirating listen in the 35-minute range. I was lucky enough to score some original Nuclear Blast copies of this, albeit for a price, in these last couple years. I'd like to see another quality reissue of this sophomore Dismember effort sooner rather than later - this is too good not to be a readily available album for all death metal maniacs.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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