01. The God That Never Was 02. Shadows Of The Mutilated 03. Time Heals Nothing 04. Autopsy 05. Never Forget, Never Forgive 06. Trail Of The Dead 07. Phantoms (Of The Oath) 08. Into The Temple Of Humiliation 09. Blood For Paradise 10. Feel The Darkness 11. Where No Ghost Is Holy2006 Candlelight Records
When I hear "Lamb of God and Mastodon were signed to major label deals. metal is alive and well!" I feel hard pressed to completely agree. While skilled at the styles they play, their sudden elevation of status can be more accurately attributed to majors looking for the next Pantera or Metallica, which is a lost cause these days because too much choice exists for fans of the genre. The release of Dismember's ninth album earlier this year, on the other hand, is a true gauge of metal's health. By quite a natural process the band remains steadfastly underground, a result of their uncompromising approach in writing what still pleases them and undoubtedly what still pleases their fans: Old-school Swedish death metal. With the release of their still-resonating 2004 album Where Ironcrosses Grow, it was obvious that Dismember were making their songwriting rougher around the edges. Doing so meant some of their melodic tendencies and adequate thrash riffs were replaced with more down-tuned, chainsaw guitars and a greater array of quick yet choppy tempos that fans had not heard since their second album, Indecent & Obscene. While The God That Never Was continues to recall their wildly influential early days, songs "Shadows Of The Mutilated," "Time Heals Nothing," "Phantoms (Of The Oath)," and "Where No Ghost Is Holy" all feature sped-up harmonies reminiscent of Iron Maiden and Metallica that Dismember executed so well on their Massive Killing Capacity and Death Metal albums. Their usual Slayer worship is alive and well on songs "Never Forget, Never Forgive" and "Feel The Darkness," the latter which sounds a great deal like their 1995 cult single "Casket Garden." Also, the familiar bluesy thrash grooves of mid-era Entombed come alive on "Into The Temple Of Humiliation." Whether it was the exit of longstanding bassist and regular songwriting contributor Richard Cabeza or merely a desire to write even more dependable material, The God That Never Was outdoes its predecessor, a feat I did not think was possible. Then again, fellow Swedish death metal originators Unleashed and Grave have enjoyed recent resurgences also due to writing rejuvenated material that recaptures old fans and converts new ones alike. Now all we need is for Nicke Anderson to rejoin Entombed and give them the comeback that their band's legacy so rightly deserves for the four originals to have survived the excessively melodic Swedish metal glory days of the nineties. Unlike Entombed who lost their primary songwriter and drumming powerhouse in the late nineties to the Hellacopters, Dismember still have theirs: Fred Estby. The man is unstoppable, proving himself to be just as good on guitar as on drums, not to mention one hell of a producer. Dismember's albums always end up sounding like they were recorded in 1990 but mastered with modern day technology and this is an entirely deliberate act to give their albums an ominous, organic feel. A glance at the album cover may induce flashbacks to other death metal classics, which is entirely normal. The God That Never Was sees Dan Seagrave (Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Suffocation, Pestilence) continuing his on and off sixteen-year relationship with Dismember, creating yet another memorable piece for the band. Bottom Line: Dismember fans from all eras will immediately recognize and embrace The God That Never Was as a natural and impressive addition to the band's back catologue. Speaking of back catologue, to coincide with the release of The God That Never Was, Candlelight USA has impressively reissued, remastered, and added at least four or five bonus tracks to each of Dismember's albums. If there were ever a better time to catch up on one of the best old-school metal bands who can still write metal with more proficiency than most young bands, it is now. If you don't have their debut Like An Ever-Flowing Stream it's bad enough that you still call yourself a metalhead. And while getting The God That Never Was cannot be substituted for all the great moments Dismember has delivered over the past decade and a half, it's a reasonable place to start.