The oft-overlooked sons of the early ’90s Swedish death metal boom (which included, among many lesser lights, Entombed, Unleashed, Cemetary, and Grave), Dismember etched their place into the annals of metal history with their 1991 debut, Like an Everflowing Stream, an instant classic of the genre that kicked copious amounts of ass the world over upon its release, a time-locked document of a furtive scene prior to its untimely burgeoning. However, the sad fact of the matter is, the Swedish quintet has mercilessly toiled all for naught since then, rehashing that album’s most marked elements to less-than-stellar effect, thereby firmly entrenching itself in a creative coma only remotely tinkered with by the punkish, mid-tempo rush of 1995’s Massive Killing Capacity, the album hardly living up to its title or striking, war-bent cover art. Shit, the irony totally kicked into overdrive with 1997’s Death Metal, its title mirroring its predictable content.
Well, it seems the three-year hiatus proved restful, as Dismember are back with something resembling vengeance on Hate Campaign. Though, again, the album’s content may not live up to its wonderful title, Hate Campaign displays a reinvigorated Dismember, a scowling troupe that, while not finding any new ideas, has at least found its long-lost urgency – in these days of disposable death metal, an element as priceless as a Hellhammer vinyl bootleg. Perhaps a good deal of this urgency could be chalked up to the classic Slayer-esque ethic found on the album: little over 30 minutes long, with each of the 11 tracks headbutting right into the next one, leaving chances for breathing room next to nil. But at such a length, the bulldozering had better be urgent – or, more specifically, have a purpose – or else the end results would be merely just that: bulldozering. Fortunately, Dismember succeed in this aspect. Further helping his troops set their sights on unwilling victims, drummer Fred Estby’s production – a quintessentially Swedish one that (surprise, surprise!) wasn’t courtesy of Tomas Skogsberg or Peter Tagtgren – lays as much waste as his pals’ classic work did with a churning, bass-driven swell that’s all the more logical given the gutted content.
In a climate where black metal is all the rage and power metal gets flung to kids who don’t even know who Iron Maiden is, Dismember should be given an iota of credit for sticking to their seemingly “un-cool” guns. Then again, if death metal is to receive the supreme reign it’s been due for the past three years, it’s going to take more than just the blustering brutality of Krisiun and the epileptic angularity of Hate Eternal to instigate this coup. Thus, Dismember will need to reconsider their platform on their next hate campaign.
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