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Carnage: Dark recollections

21/09/12  ||  Smalley

Quick, name the very first Swedeath album; you said “Left hand path”, right? Good guess, but the wrong one, since the correct answer actually came out a few months before “LHP”, had members who would go on to work with At The Gates, Dismember, and fucken Carcass (among others), was produced by Tomas Skogsberg (head of the legendary Sunlight Records himself), and had cover art from Dan fucken Seagrave. Sounds like a match made in metal heaven, doesn’t it?

“So why was I not aware of this mythical unicorn of a metal album, Smalley? Admit it, you’re making this all up, aren’t you?” Nope; if you have Spotify, you can go check it out for yourself right now. “Hey, that’s fucken kick-ass Smallz. Okay, now srsly; why have I not heard of this album??” Well, despite featuring Michael Amott and 3 guys from Dismember (a band that was on hiatus when this was recorded), “Dark recollections” still came out before “Necroticism”/“Like an ever flowing stream”, so no one really cared who those guys were at the time. Then add in how this was their only record, and the fact that Amott soon left for Carcass to record the aforementioned “Necroticism”, and those other 3 dudes restarted Dismember to record “stream”, and Carnage was no more, grossly neglected for the most part, and almost totally eclipsed by the shadows of its more famous associated bands.

…but not forgotten because “recollections” sucks in any way, though. Kind of the exact opposite actually, since I’d put it up against anything else its members recorded with their subsequent bands, or anything else I’ve heard in the overall Swedeath scene, for that matter. After a brief (and half-assed) intro section, the opening title track slams us with a lil’ bit of slow, doomy riffage, before kicking things up into what must have been the public’s first listen of that thrashy, chainsawing riff that has become so recognizably Swedeath. It is a pretty good opener, but “Torn apart” is what really gets “Dark recollections” on track, with a relentless momentum, greater songwriting intricacy, and an unexpected sense of adventure in the form of a few eerie keyboard interludes (which dovetail in nicely with the guitar solos), giving us something to enjoy besides the fun-but-typical death metal tricks.

And from there on out, DR is all butter; we get some doomy riffing, plenty of violent tempo change-ups, some creepy keyboarding, demonically-distorted vocal sections, and a super-cool outro track, a lil’ bit of grind-y material (indicative of how Carnage first started out), but most important of all, smartly composed, aggressive fucken Swedeath all the way, extremely enjoyable and relistenable. Songwriting-wise, you do hear some snatches of what Carcass & Dismember what do later on, but this still has its own personality, and as for the performances, Matti Kärki’s vocals are definitely recognizable when he starts up, though he’s doing a more guttural, “traditional” type of death growl here then the more hardcore-inspired bark he’d go on to do on “stream”, so it’s nice to hear how he sounded different early in his career. His vocal control ain’t the best, but the youthful energy helps make up for that, so it isn’t a biggie.

As for the legendary Michael Amott, his solos don’t lightly “flitter” here like they would for Carcass, instead, going much more chaotic, with a lot of extremes when it comes to the high/low notes, but as for his riffing, again, I can hear hints of what he would go on to play later in his career, and the same goes for David Blomqvist’s playing and what he’d do in Dismember. It’s a nice, double-sided perk, hearing snatches of the members’ future careers, which helps get you all nostalgic for that classic metal you know by heart, while also being different enough to feel like its own thing. And as for Fred Estby’s drumming, he does the expectedly up-tempo, steady, Swedeath pound, but also plenty of unexpectedly rapid, out-of-nowhere drum fills that add a shitload to the album, and is a better performance than anything I can remember him doing in Dismember.

So, looking back on it, this really shouldn’t have turned out anywhere near as awesome as it did, what with the way it was recorded in 5 days with hastily assembled songs from Carnage demos, some early, unused Dismember material, and new tracks, all played by rookie teenagers who’d never recorded a full-length in their lives. But despite all of that, and the way it’s been neglected in metal’s collective memory over the years, Carnage’s sole record still put them on the very vanguard of a brand new sound in metal, if but for a short time, and with “recollections”, you get your very first listen of future metal legends, and are able to hear the creative hunger of youth in their efforts.

Although this band’s break-up helped further the careers of 2 indisputably iconic death metal acts (among others), it still bugs me the fuck out of me that DR itself gets so little attention, considering how pioneering it was. But, though I know Dismember is no more, I have to request for Carnage not to attempt any sort of comeback record, since their legacy is crystal-perfect as is, and how many bands can you say that about, really? Anyway, I had an absolute blast discovering this buried gem, so fuck Cynic & Terrorizer (but not really), and give this one-album wonder a good fucken listen. Burn in hell, Class6!

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Necrosis
  • Website: N/A
  • Band
  • Matti Kärki: vocals
  • Michael Amott: guitars, bass
  • David Blomqvist: guitars
  • Fred Estby: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Dark Recollections
  • 02. Torn Apart
  • 03. Blasphemies Of The Flesh
  • 04. Infestation Of Evil
  • 05. Gentle Exhuming
  • 06. Deranged From Blood
  • 07. Malignant Epitaph
  • 08. Self-Dissection
  • 09. Death Evocation
  • 10. Outro