overground scene

Back to the grave

Over the last decade a large number of death metal bands that I consider important have reformed – or come back to death, if you will – and released albums after many years of absence, including Atheist, Asphyx, At The Gates, Autopsy, Broken Hope, Brutal Truth, Carcass, Desultory, Gorefest, Massacre, Obituary, Pestilence, Morgoth, and Suffocation. While I found some of these comebacks to be disappointing (Pestilence, Asphyx, Massacre) most were brilliant.


Re-united At The Gates.

Suffocation‘s comeback album (Souls to deny, 2004) might be my favorite album by this indisputably perfect and influential brutal death metal monster. The song structures, breakdowns, riffs, vocal delivery are just insane (check out the eponymous song). The production is also flawless and “real-sounding”, as opposed to their last two albums where the sound went from plastic to horribly overproduced. Gorefest returned to death with an album (La muerte, 2005, check out the massive and melancholic “You could make me kill“) that leveled me and made me crave for more. It’s a shame they folded again after Rise to power (2008). Obituary‘s comeback (Frozen in time, 2005) made me happy back in the day, since it reminded me a lot of my favorite Obituary album (that is, The end complete, 1992). I have slightly gotten less excited about it over time. Brutal Truth‘s comeback (Evolution through revolution, 2009) is another example of a fierce and full-on comeback. It is as if not one day had passed since their last grind offering more than a decade earlier and, in my books, it is every bit as perfect as Need to control (check out “Fist in mouth” and treat yourselves to some grindcore insanity – that change at 1:03 is sublime).


Re-united Atheist, in a picture reminiscent of their second album.

Atheist‘s comeback album (Jupiter, 2010) impressed me when it came out five years ago and still to this day I consider it a flawless old-school technical death metal masterpiece. In this album one can find clever and imaginative lyrics, interesting arrangements and variety in songwriting (check out “Live and live again“). Autopsy‘s comeback E.P (The tomb within, 2010, check out “Seven skulls“) and all albums since have been great, yet I never considered it a real comeback, as the Autopsy legacy lived on in Abscess. Desultory‘s comeback album (Counting our scars, 2011) is also brilliant and just keeps sounding better with time. It probably is my favorite album from them; I still cannot get used to songs like “This broken halo“, “Leeching life“, “Dead ends” and “Uneven numbers“. Broken Hope‘s comeback offering (Omen of disease, 2013) has also left a lasting impression on me. I thought it would be very difficult for the band to recapture the brilliance of their old albums, especially with Brian not being part of the reunion and Joe no longer being with us. However, the band with Jeremy and Shaun at the helm managed to offer an awesome album (check out the brilliant “Docking dead“).


Re-united Carcass.

Carcass‘s brilliant comeback album (Surgical steel, 2013) has been widely accepted as a masterpiece. As I have discussed in more detail here, it is an album that respects the huge Carcass legacy by sticking to the compositional canon that Carcass invented, without regurgitating their past. It is an album that both musically and lyrically gives what only a handful of bands manage to do: impress, cultivate, entertain, and influence. At the Gates‘ comeback album (At war with reality, 2014) is still fresh but I have listened to it enough times to be able to have a full-formed opinion about it; albeit non-comparable to their back-catalogue I consider it an awesome album full of great ideas (check out the brilliant “The head of the hydra“).

After all these awesome comebacks that happened, I imagine, for various reasons (nostalgia, creative need, friendship, habit, fame and money?), the question is “who next?”. Dismember disbanded four years ago. Although Dismember used to be my all time favorite death metal band, near the end I thought that they gave all they had to give. The last few records, although I did like them, were quite repetitive and felt a bit forced. There were a few brilliant ideas here and there, usually coming from Fred Estby (“Bleeding over“, “Chasing the serpent“, “Blood for paradise“, “Feel the darkness“) and David Blomqvist (“Questionable ethics“, “Combat fatigue“), but all in all, their main influences (Autopsy and Iron Maiden) tended to take over instead of being woven in their style, like in the early albums. Moreover, Karki’s obsession with war and militarism (especially the nazis) started to feel awkward and I would hate to see such a seminal band associated with fascism. Although a part of me wants Dismember to reunite, another part of me does not. Today, David, Fred and Christian are focusing their energy in The Dagger. Carbonized used to be one of the most brutal ambassadors of Swedish death metal. Their demos were a brutal mix of death and Grindcore. Their first album, a true masterpiece, also flirted with some weird dissonant melodies which they took further with their sophomore album. How cool would it be if Carbonized got back together and tried out some crazy death stuff! Of course, it would be extremely difficult to get Johnsson off his high horse. Comecon is another band from the 1990s which I love. Their leftist politics combined with a very unique musical style used to appeal to me in a big way. However, given that the core of the band (Pelle and Rasmus) have not done anything musical for two decades now, and since they never had a large following, I wouldn’t expect them to reform. Massacra is one of my all-time favorite bands and Signs of the decline (1992) will always be one of the most excellent albums of all time. Although I found their last two albums at best mediocre, I would love to see whether they have thirst for death metal and what they can do with it. Of course Fred is no longer with us, which I imagine makes things much more difficult. The last time I heard Jean-Mark Tristani’s name was on Dismember’s Hate Campaign promotional copy – he was the representative of the distribution company in France, or something like that. I wouldn’t mind if the Laws of the scourge (1992) era Sarcofago got back together with the desire to play some genre-defying death metal. For a while there were rumors that Unseen Terror would re-unite. Their debut and other demo songs provided the blueprint for grinding death metal, and Human error (1987) was only a powerful production away from being the definitive masterpiece of grindcore. However, given that post-Enemy Napalm Death resemble a lot old Unseen Terror, a modern Unseen Terror would sound like modern Napalm Death , so maybe there is no real need for a reunion. The band that I would love to see getting back together is Pungent Stench. Hopefully someday their un-released album from 2007 will see the light of day.

Now treat yourselves to a playlist of bands that have gone back to the grave:


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