Sound — 7
Old school Swedish death metal certainly has a signature sound. Sign this album up for that, because it certainly sounds 1989 (or whatever year you want since they all sound the same, since the genre was born). The band along with Nico Elgstrand has managed to craft a production that is exactly what you'd expect. Now, I'll get a bit anal about details here, but the distortion is a bit hairy. There seem to be two schools when it comes to distortion in old school Swedish DM. It's either I can barely get any gain from my old Plexi or More hair than the LA Strip. This album would fall under the latter, as the distortion is very hairy. I don't mean that it sounds like hair metal, I mean that there's too much distortion. In effect, there's a certain lack of definition to the guitars which somewhat bothers me. The drums sound as you'd expect them -- old school. No triggering or any of that, it's down and dirty, DIY-sounding. But hey, it works and it complements the other instruments. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's reminiscent in a few places of Kill Em All sound (but not style)-wise. It's actually sort of refreshing to hear a production of this kind in this day and age when most releases you hear tend to be very polished. The Dismember guys know how to achieve their sound, and they see no reason to change it.
Lyrics — 6
Dismember were never a band to really buy into the whole semi-morbid gore-y graphically-depict-corpses-and-dead-bodies-on-display style that so many death metal bands circa 1990 were pursuing lyrically. Not saying that they never went there, but war seemed as a topic much closer to their hearts. Lyrically this album seems somewhat to rotate around war, and World War 1 in particular. Bits and pieces lead me to believe that the album is, although not conceptual, but at least thematical in it's approach. Dismember is an album which lyrically fulfills what most people would expect of it. You have the keywords: blood, death (and the variations dying, dead etc), war, black, combat, etc etc. You get the picture. It's pretty much by the book, which isn't a bad thing, but if you've heard your fair share of death metal, this shouldn't make your intestines do somersaults of joy.
Overall Impression — 6
Dismember's previous effort, The God That Never Was, came across to me as one of the better death metal albums in recent years, if you consider only the elder bands. It had pace, balls and attitude up the behind. Sadly, it seems they've lost much of that on Dismember (why opt for a s/t after so many years? ). The album itself is not bad by any means, not at all. The strength of The God That Never Was laid in that the material was very, very strong, but it also showed a band that has more or less refused/not been been able to evolve (and that's not a good thing in my book). There are people and fans who appreciate when bands don't change their sound and cater to the fans, but I don't. If I was honest, and I will be, then I'd say that this album is a workman-like effort. Dismember take no chances with material that over-all stands as middle-of-the-road and nothing special, compared to other bands in their genre, and their own output. Not saying that there are no highlights -- because there are. Europa Burns and Legion are nice, aggressive death metal tracks that spark your interest somewhat, but the real highlights come when the band dare to venture that extra step with melodies, harmonies and long-ish solo sections. Under A Bloodred Sky and Tide of Blood would be the two obvious standouts, especially the former whose instrumental section is reminiscent of Burton-era Metallica (note the great basslines). To sum it all up -- Dismember is not the best death metal album you'll hear this year, that I'll guarantee. It's not without some strong highlights, and the band themselves are certainly putting out a CD filled with aggression, honesty and from-the-heart death metal. But how innovative is that?