overground scene


Is this where I came from? #5 Deep Purple and Dismember

In this, the fifth installment of the “Is this where I came from” series of posts I ask whether Deep Purple, an English hard rock band, influenced Dismember, a Swedish death metal band, by looking at a riff that may have traveled 21 years, and the way in which it changed during this journey.

deep-purple-1Deep Purple – Love don’t mean a thing (1974)

Stormbringer is the second album after Ian Gillan’s departure and David Coverdale’s arrival. Although it is definitely not the hard rock/heavy metal cornerstone that In Rock and Machine Head are, I quite like Stormbringer. It is a more laid-back, quite funky (literally) album that showcases Coverdale’s flexible voice and the band’s broad musical range. “Love don’t mean a thing” is one of the more laid back songs on the album, it’s a quite soulful, bluesy song, with some cheesy lyrics about a man who seeks a woman who is rich enough to support him. To my ears, the opening riff does not really stand out. It consists of a lead melody on a blues scale that utilises the hammer-on technique, and an accompanying background melody which is a slightly different version of the lead melody in a lower octave. No distortion is used. The background melody is the one that resembles the riff with which Dismember came up 21 years later.

Dismember+Lineup02Dismember – Casket Garden (1995)

In my opinion, Massive killing capacity is one of the most perfect albums that have ever been recorded. It cannot be denied, however, that it was partially a by-product of the wider trend in death metal for more experimentation after 1993. This trend in itself was partially fueled by record companies who wanted to jump on the “death ‘n roll” bandwagon of successful albums like Entombed‘s Wolverine blues. On their DVD “Live blasphemies” Dismember talk about how Nuclear Blast (their record company back then) pressured them to become more melodic. Indeed, one can detect several hard rock and heavy metal references on this album, such as the Kiss-inspired ending of “Hallucigenia” (listen to the end of Kiss’s “Black diamond“) or the Metallica-inspired “Nenia” (listen to Metallica’s “Orion“). “Casket garden” was written by Richard, Fred and Robert. The opening riff is to a large extent a heavier, more distorted version of “Love don’t mean a thing”. The groove is extremely similar. The main difference is that Dismember don’t follow the blues progression that Deep Purple use. Every third note of the “Casket garden” riff is a pull-off back to the root note (the opposite of the hammer-on that is used between the first and second note). Another point of difference is that through its journey from the hard rock to the death metal logic, the riff was reinterpreted through the use of heavy distortion and the accompaniment of a heavy rhythm section, that contributes to establishing the rhythm the band wanted to convey. The result is a massive riff, at once extremely memorable, uplifting and exciting.

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