Dismember: Like an ever flowing stream
16/12/11 || Smalley
While there are a number of “Siamese twin” albums out there, duos that came out at around the same time and undeniably influenced the same sub-genre, few are as closely tied in people’s minds as Entombed’s “Left hand path” and Dismember’s “Like an ever flowing stream”. While “LHP” beat “stream” to the punch by a year, “stream” still managed to leave its own personal mark on the Swedeath scene with its even rustier “chainsaw” production, more aggressive songwriting, and generally rougher feel all-around, helping to seal the deal for Swedeath being a legitimate, viable alternative to the Florida scene. Not bad for a debut when it turns out more influential than some bands’ entire fucken discographies, eh?
8. Plenty of gritty, catchy, punishing riffs all the way here, lots of energy, and reasonable amounts of variation in every song to keep things fresh, so LaEFS is one hell of an intense, fun slab of Swedeath. The emphasis on speed here lends it somewhat of a hardcore-influenced vibe, and gives it some vital differentiation from “Left hand path”, though, like “path”, “stream” became a classic more due to influence on its scene than for having truly great songwriting in its own right.
By that, I mean that a lot of the tracks here feel like they were created out of the same basic mold, instead of the band really challenging themselves. There is the occasionally more epic/melodic/slower section, but not a whole lot of ‘em, and when they do pop up, it’s usually only for a while before the faster shit takes back over. I wouldn’t have minded hearing some more doom-y sections either, since they work so well with that guitar sound. But still, who the hell doesn’t enjoy some relatively straight-forward, non-pretentious headbanging every now and then? I certainly do, so in that aspect, “stream” is a complete, unwavering success, and definitely satisfies on its own terms.
7. Dismember mainstay Fred Estby was the knob-polisher on this one, and helped the rhythm guitar have both this thin-ish, kinda shrill sound at times, and a dirtier, more traditional “chainsaw” style at others, but while the thinner stuff doesn’t sound desirable on paper, on album, it does have this off-the-beaten-path charm to it. The lead guitar has a bit of a faint, “far-away” quality to it, but again, it does have its charm, and I like how unexpectedly melodic it sounds as well. I can hear the bass well enough without having to BLAST my speakers out, and while some aspects of the drum sound are too muted, all the imperfections here still help add to the down-‘n-dirty feel on “stream”. It all works well enough at any rate.
8. Rhythm guitarist Robert Sennebäck pleases with his chunky, fast-paced, violently-churning, changing riffing, never letting the same thing be repeated for too long, while Nicke Andersson (and David Blomqvist on the first track) kick in with the occasional winding, melodic, relatively-serene lead part, though there isn’t nearly enough of the latter. I do love how Nicke plays continuously for almost the entire first half of “dismembered”, though. Anyway, the riffs are still the main thing rushing this “stream” forward, and Sennebäck’s more than good enough by himself to hold the center stage.
7.5. Matti Kärki kind of has a shout-growl going on here, and is a bit mush-mouthed (so forget about understanding what he’s saying without a booklet/the Net), but he isn’t generic, so I still enjoy his work. I like the lowness/energy of his vocals, and the way he holds some cool long notes too, so definitely sticks out from your typical pack of death metal cookie-eaters.
6.5. Richard Cabeza does what many other metal bassists have been doing since the beginning of time, which is basically just keep up with what the other guitars are doing, adding some more aural depth, instead of forging his own path, so it isn’t really a distinguishing performance. Still, he doesn’t do anything wrong here, and when he speaks up in the mix, his bass does have this smooth, pleasing sound to it, so I’ll throw him an additional half-point.
8. I like Fred Estby’s fast, pounding sections, excellent use of the kicks, and intense, inventive, entertaining fills, and he fits with the guitars so as to add to the overall momentum, without just blindly trying to mimic whatever direction they’re headed. You know, he’s an important part of the music, but is also apart from it, and does his own thing. A more precise performance would’ve netted him a higher score, but not every album has to be anal about getting everything right, certainly not when it’s as much fun as this one, so his drumming more than works for me.
7.5. Typical Swedeath topics here like death, murder, gore, blasphemy, the afterlife(s), so on, occasionally generic and with a little obit of a broken-English vibe at times, but some of it is genuinely thoughtful and poetic and shit like that (“In death I will sleep/Floating deep/From dying heaven/To living hell”), so I do like the lyrics pretty well.
9. Heavy metal da Vinci Dan Seagrave drew “stream“s artwork, and did a fucken great job with it (as he always does); love those winding, ornate, stone dragon-things, that glimpse of sky at the top, and the way the three water streams combine into one Hell-ish lava flow coming out of the demon moose-thing. Naturally, it made our best covers list, and of course, why would you expect any less from a man with a last name from two different Sabbath songs (you know, their two “Children“s?).
7.5. I like the rusty red coloring and the classic, edged/curved capital letters flanking both sides-design. No complaints.
N/A. Burning booklets is the only way I can stay warm at night you jerk. But no, I just streamed this off off Spotify, so I don’t need to make excuses… yet.
Overall and ending rant
Seeing as how this is the only Dismember album I’ve heard in full yet, I’ll have to find out later if they lived up to the initial promise here; I’ll see about writing some more reviews for ‘em later, perhaps. All you need to know for right now is “stream” is a classic album that actually deserves its status, and more. Well, not quite “more”, but yeah, it is pretty damn sweet.
- Released: 1991
- Label: Nuclear Blast
- Website: Dismember MySpace
- Matti Kärki: vocals
- Robert Sennebäck: rhythm guitar
- Richard Cabeza: bass
- Nicke Andersson: lead guitar on tracks 2-8
- David Blomqvist: lead guitar on track 1
- Fred Estby: drums
- 01. Override Of The Overture
- 02. Soon To Be Dead
- 03. Bleed For Me
- 04. And So Is Life
- 05. Dismembered
- 06. Skin Her Alive
- 07. Sickening Art
- 08. Death’s Sleep