When I first had the idea to write about some of those bands I grew up with, DISMEMBER was one of the very first on my list. It was in 1990 when I ordered their third demo "Reborn in blasphemy" from CBR Records (at that time a pretty well known label/distributor from Sweden who helped to spread the names of Swedish Death Metal Bands in the world) and completely fell in love with them. One year before in 1989 the whole Death Metal thing started for me personally with the release of Morbid Angel's classic "Altars of madness". Pretty late you might think with bands like POSSESSED, DEATH or AUTOPSY being around for a couple of yeras, but remember that the whole Death Metal underground was in full bloom at that time, and I had lots of fun doing tape trading and stuff. Good bands, good friends, good memories. Anyway, "Reborn in blasphemy" was the first piece of music I heard from the Swedish legend DISMEMBER and to this day it's one of my all time fave demos. So it was no big question to start this new section of this website with DISMEMBER, giant among Death Metal bands!!!
DISMEMBER formed way back in 1988 in Stockholm, Sweden, a city which should become the Mecca for Death Metal fans world wide with bands like NIHILIST/ENTOMBED, UNLEASHED, CARNAGE and tons more emerging from the dark crypts of Sweden's capital. Not forgetting the infamous Sunlight Studios and its owner Thomas Skogsberg, but you all know that I'm sure.
Anyway, in 1988 three guys formed a band which later would become known as DISMEMBER. These three dudes were Fred Estby on drums, David Blomqvist on bass and Robert Sennebäck on guitars and vocals. Inspired by Death Metal bands like AUTOPSY, REPULSION, DEATH, INSANITY and the likes (and of course by Swedish mates NIHILIST who had formed one year before in 1987), they started a band which they called DISMEMBERIZER. One of the closest friends of the band was Nicke Andersson from the aforementioned NIHILIST (who later became the driving force behind ENTOMBED and THE HELLACOPTERS) who helped them out on bass at some gigs in the early days and agreed to draw the logo for DISMEMBERIZER. Coincidence or not, Nicke drew a logo, a great one, but it didn't read DISMEMBERIZER but DISMEMBER. Fred, David and Robert liked that logo a lot abyway so they didn't really care if the name was DISMEMBER now. Nicke was the man responsible for the band's name so to speak (by the way, the logo was pretty much the same as it is today, with only some slight differences (the one DISMEMBER used since the release of their debut album "Like an ever flowing stream" has sharper edges, done by Nicke as well)).
Sooo, in 1988 the first demo of DISMEMBER came out, simply entitled "Dismembered". Here's the cover, the track list and the line up:
Fred Estby - Drums
David Blomqvist - Bass
Robert Sennebäck - Guitar, Vocals
2. Substantually dead
3. Defective decay
Even though the production is pretty rough you can already feel the immense power and potential the band had (and still has). Note: Many people consider Matti Kärki as one of the best voices in Death Metal (and I think they're right), but on the first demo releases by DISMEMBER he wasn't even in the band! Instead, Robban did the vocals and on "Dismembered" they're quite different from the vocals on later DISMEMBER releases. The voice on "Dismembered" is often referred to as being Black Metal, but I disagree here. Right, it's not deep growling which became a trademark for Death Metal, but it's also no stupid Black Metal screaming. It IS more screaming than in the later days, but I wouldn't say these are Black Metal vocals...
Anyway, "Deathevokation" and one of the all time DISMEMBER classics "Defective decay" ended up on the debut album "Like an ever flowing stream", but only as bonus tracks on the CD version. Furthermore "Defective decay" was recorded with Harmonizer vocals on "Like an...", so I strongly recommend the version you can find on the "Reborn in blasphemy" demo (see below). "Substantually dead" is an unreleased song till this day. Some DISMEMBER songs from the second demo also never made it onto an album by the band, however, they were recorded by another Swedish band and got released on an album (more info about that band see below). So "Substantually dead" is the only song which never got re-recorded again. Reason enough for anyone to get this demo! By the way: Don't expect to find an original copy of the demo anywhere, but through tape trading it shouldn't be that much of a problem (if the scene is still alive?!).
By the way, not only the logo was drawn by Evil Nicke, also the cover artwork for the demo was done by him. Needless to say this demo is a real classic of Swedish Death Metal. It may be not as strong as the latter ones, but remember that these guys were around 14 or 15 when they recorded the songs. Essential as hell!
After a while DISMEMBER entered the studio once again to record their second demo, this one called "Last blasphemies". It came out in 1989 and here's the info you need:
Fred Estby - Drums
David Blomqvist - Bass
Robert Sennebäck - Vocals, Guitar
1. Deranged from blood
2. Blasphemies of the flesh
3. Self dissection
Taking a look at the song titles you might think that these songs sound familiar to you even if you never heard that demo before. Well, you guys have a real close examination. In fact, all three songs later ended up on "Dark recollections", the one and only full length album by Swedish legends CARNAGE. But first to DISMEMBER again: Maybe the title of "Last blasphemies" was an indication of what was about to come, because unfortunately DISMEMBER split up after the release of their second demo, mainly because Fred Estby joined CARNAGE who at that time searched for a drummer.
[Short intermission here: CARNAGE was another legendary Swedish Death Metal band who originally released their first demo "The day man lost" in 1989. In the very early days of the band they were called GLOBAL CARNAGE by the way. Anyway, on "Infestation of evil" CARNAGE consisted of Johan Axelsson on vocals, Michael Amott on guitars, Johnny Dordevic on bass (the guy who later did the vocals for ENTOMBED live (and "of course" on "Clandestine", but I'm sure you all know who really did the vocals on that album, haha) and Jeppe Larsson on drums. Their second demo came out in the same year 1989 and instead of Jeppe, Fred Estby played the drums on this one.]
Back to DISMEMBER then: Fred Estby left the band to join CARNAGE and the two other guys went on as well: David played the bass in ENTOMBED for a while who were recently formed back then, arising from the ashes of probably the most influential Death Metal band ever from Sweden: NIHILIST. He can be heard on ENTOMBED's one and only demo "But life goes on" in 1989 while Robert founded UNLEASHED together with Johnny Hedlund who just got kicked out of NIHILIST before NIHILIST split up. Quite confusing, isn't it? It seems like in the early days of the Swedish scene everyone played in every band... Well, Robert and Johnny founded UNLEASHED and recorded two demos with two other guys with Robert doing the vocals. Unlike on UNLEASHED's studio albums Johnny Hedlund only did some backing vocals on the demos, maybe because Robert already had experience in singing with DISMEMBER :-)
So all three guys were quite busy even though DISMEMBER didn't exist anymore. But as the first demo, "Last blasphemies" once again was fuckin' killer release! All three songs are real masterpieces of Swedish Death Metal and everyone into this sound should know these tunes.
As time went on, CARNAGE also had some other line up changes. Johan Axelsson got kicked out of the band and CARNAGE teamed up with Matti Kärki who formerly played in CARBONIZED and THERION. CARNAGE were offered a deal with Earache sub label Necrosis Records and recorded their one and only album "Dark recollections". The band consisted of Matti on vocals, Johnny Dordevic on bass, Michael Amott on guitar, Fred Estby on drums and - surprise, surprise - Fred's old DISMEMBER pal David Blomqvist on second guitar. Maybe it was because CARNAGE didn't write that many songs on their demos, but CARNAGE used all three songs of "Last blasphemies" for "Dark recollections". A couple of years later DISMEMBER did the same when they recorded the CARNAGE song "Torn apart" for the "Pieces" EP by the way...
After the release of "Dark recollections" CARNAGE unfortunately split up because Michael Amott joined forces with English legends CARCASS.
Well, too bad for CARNAGE, but the demise of CARNAGE led to the resurrection of DISMEMBER. After the split of CARNAGE Fred Estby and David Blomqvist decided to go with DISMEMBER again. But unlike on their first two demos Robert Sennebäck didn't handle the vocals as he was busy with UNLEASHED. So Fred and David asked Matti Kärki, their former pal from CARNAGE, to join DISMEMBER and thanks God he did. In 1990 the three of them recorded their third demo with the fitting title "Reborn in blasphemy".
Matti Kärki - Vocals
David Blomqvist - Guitar, Bass
Fred Estby - Drums
3. Sickening art
4. Defective decay
In my humble opinion this is their best demo and one of the best Death Metal demos ever. That's for sure. "Reborn in blasphemy" definitely belongs to my top 5 list of Death Metal demos and the versions on here are even better than those of DISMEMBER's debut album in my eyes. Just listen to "Dismembered", one of the best Death Metal tracks ever. Matti's vocals on this demo were seldom better. "Sickening art" also ended up on "Like an ever flowing stream", and so did "Defective decay", a re-recorded version from their very first demo. Once again the cover artwork was done by Nicke Andersson who also played the lead guitar on "Reborn in blasphemy". A must have!!!
That demo led to the record deal with Nuclear Blast Records and we're at the end of the demo history. Oh, one more funny thing to report: After the release of "Reborn in blasphemy" DISMEMBER added two more members to their line up. Richard Cabeza joined on bass and Robert Sennebäck, one of the founding members of the band, returned from UNLEASHED to play the second guitar.
So, after all these years DISMEMBER are still here. They never changed their style, they always stayed true to themselves, and they still are the masters of old school Death Metal from Sweden. So as long as DISMEMBER live, Death Metal will reign!!! Hail to the kings!!!
Story: Stefan Muench
P.S.: Let me know what you think about this story! I'd really like to have some feedback! More demo histories are about to come, I have bands like NIHILIST/ENTOMBED (of course!), GRAVE, CARNAGE, CARBONIZED etc. in mind...