Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Fulmination article plus Humanity’s Dirge review

FULMINATION - biography and "Humanity’s Dirge" compilation review
Some bands just never had that luck, which is sometimes needed to get the deserved attention and a record contract with a good label. In case of Avesta bands – Uncanny, Interment, Fulmination, Moodnark – it seems like almost a curse, as while each of them really offered a killer and worthy music, only Uncanny managed to get an interest from the label and recorded an album (but let’s be honest Unisound Records, for which “Splenium for Nyktophobia” was released, wasn’t the best option they could get… but better that than nothing I guess). Obviously nowadays these bands from Avesta are finally more recognised, their old recordings are re-released and Interment even came back from the dead with great style, recording some superb music. But Fulmination remained as a band that I’ve never had that many chances to read about and more so they’re one of the last really great Swedish bands from the 90’s, which finally managed to get some more recognition and now at the end of 2013 their old demos are finally being re-released in proper form. First The Crypt Records released all Fulmination recordings on fantastic double vinyl and then Dark Descent is doing a CD version – “Humanity’s Dirge” certainly is one of the most important releases for the year, definitely! It just feels good that finally, after so many years, more maniacs will get the chance to listen to the music of Fulmination. It is also a good opportunity to remind the band’s history; even if it isn’t easy to get any info about the band whatsoever...
So, it was 1990 when the band called Entrails was formed. This band lasted for only one year, releasing one rehearsal demo, but in this band played Mats "Mabbe" Berggren (bass). In 1991, when Entrails split up, he along with Christer Enström (drums) and Mats Forsell (guitars) formed Fulmination. On 20th of May 1992 they recorded the material for the first demo “Fulmination” in Fragg Studio with four tracks of Swedish death metal, of which three (all except “Sanity’s Dawn”) appeared on the local compilation tape titled “Avesta Mengel II” (with SGR, Andromeda and Regurgitate). The same year Fredrik Norrman from Uncanny (guitars) joined the band and from now on they were a four piece. Mats Forsell joined Uncanny as well in 1992 and so he and Norrman were members of both bands equally for next two years. With the new line up Fulmination recorded the second demo – excellent “Through Fire”, which was recorded at the famous Gorysound Studio with Dan Swano. This demo was even better than the debut, with awesome production and great music similar to Uncanny and Grave. In May 1993 Fulmination entered the Gorysound once more and recorded the third material. It contained five tracks and was meant to be released as a split LP with Mariestad’s Obscure Infinity (who also recorded their material with Dan Swano) by Exhumed Records (Germany). Unfortunately this never happened (only one song from this recording “Stronger than Life” was released officially, on the Requiem – Morbid Symphonies of Dead” compilation). What happened next is that I think that at that time of 1993 Norrman and Forsell concentrated more on Uncanny,
who were recording the debut album and also Mats Berggren joined new band called Moondark, which was formed with some other well known musicians from Avesta: Johan Jansson (Interment) and Kennet Englund (Centinex, Uncanny). Norrman also joined Moondark and together they recorded the one and only demo titled simply “Demo #1” in 1993 (in 2007 this demo was re-released on both CD and LP under the title “The Shadowpath”). Moondark lasted only a year and quickly turned into another death metal band called Dellamorte. Meanwhile after a failure with the split LP with Obscure Infinity in March 1994 Fulmination became a part of a project “Live Från Musikhuset”, which was a four way split CD with three other local bands (S.G.R., Pexilated and Greedkick)… they all played and recorded a gig at the local youth centre Musikhuset. It was later released on CD. After a while Norrman joined Katatonia, so he left Fulmination
for good, not being able to concentrate on so many bands at once (he also left Uncanny). He was replaced by Johan Jansson from Interment / Moondark. With him on guitar Fulmination made their final recording, which was a full material titled “The Fading Illusions” (recording session took place at the Musikhuset in Avesta in September 1994) with Per Samuelsson. Fulmination recorded ten songs in total (both old and new), with the sound maybe less harsh and more melodic, but unfortunately they never even managed to send any copies of this promotional recording to any labels as shortly after Fulmination split up because of lack of inspiration to move on. From all the Fulmination members only Jansson and Norrman continued with the music more seriously, playing metal for many more years to come.


FULMINATION - Humanity’s Dirge (THE CRYPT - LP 2013)

Finally! I’ve been waiting for a long time to see when someone will compile all recordings of one of the most underrated Swedish death metal bands – Fulmination! They never got much attention, only released few demos plus an album, which never has been released (until now), so not many maniacs know the music of Fulmination, “Humanity’s Dirge” is going to change it then! Once I saw that The Crypt is doing the vinyl version of this compilation, I just wanted to get it, whatever the cost will be (and it wasn’t that expensive as I thought it will be)… and man, I am so damn happy to have it. Obviously I wanted to get the white / black marble version (limited to 200 copies) – and these records look just fantastic! It is a feast for the eyes to look at them, I’ve never seen such a killer marble vinyls and these two certainly are the most lovely pieces of wax, which I have. They’re packed in gatefold cover, which obviously contains a lot of info about Fulmination, a short biography, details on every recording, demo covers, finally some band photos (I’ve never seen any before!)… Plus there’s a huge poster. So, “Humanity’s Dirge” contains everything I wanna get from such compilations. More so, the artwork has been done by no one else, but Putrid Matt… and damn, to describe it I’ll tell you what my wife said, when I got the vinyl: “damn Marcin, this is just disgusting” hehehehe! That can say everything about this artwork! I don’t know whether it fits the lyrics of Fulmination, but it is just creepy, disgusting work – a collage of horrid drawings and photos… blood, torture, horror… Nice!
I’ve started listening to “Humanity’s Dirge” with side C, as this is where the very first demo of Fulmination is featured. There are four songs from it and yeah, I must say that definitely I like this stuff a lot. It may be nothing original and let’s be honest – musically it is just very close to other Swedish bands like Altar, Uncanny, Mastication, Nirvana 2002, early Centinex… but this certainly it is quality stuff, with some excellent riffs in such songs as “Entering Within” and neckbreaking “Sanity Dies” (this definitely is one of the best Fulmination songs ever!). Truly I must say that right from their very beginning Fulmination was an awesome band… and they’ve done even better with their next recording, which is on the side C/D and which is “Promo 1993”. These five songs were supposed to be released as a part of split LP with Infinity Obscure (also from Sweden), but that never happened and so I can risk saying that it became very rare recording. Anyway, recorded at Gorysound with Dan Swano sound wise it is better than the debut demo and I must say that also musically it is an improved effort. Stylistically still pretty similar type of death metal, but maybe more mid paced with slightly more melodic patterns here and there. For instance I really like “Sanctuary of the Mind” and the way this song begins. And rest of the songs from “Promo 1993” is also really nice, especially “Stronger Than Life”… some may say that it is nothing special, because Fulmination wasn’t as good as Dismember or Grave and wasn’t too original either, but who cares… I must say that I like their music. Finally side D contains four tracks, which appeared on the live split CD “Live Från Musikhuset”, which Fulmination shared with some other bands from Avesta – S.G.R., Greedkick (previously called Regurgitate) and Pexilated. I must say that I am quite surprised with the very good sound quality of this live recording – I expected some rough and bootleg recordings, but this actually sounds damn good! Such songs as “Fading Illusions” and “Sons of Weakness” sound damn awesome and I must say that I think I’ll start to chase the original version of this live CD, as I am quite interested to know what these other bands from it were like. Anyway, Fulmination really did great job on this gig and both the recording quality and performance are great.
Now let’s move to side A of “Humanity’s Dirge”… and it contains the “Fading Illusions” recording. It was meant to be Fulmination’s debut album, but they haven’t even managed to send any promo copies of it, as the band split up soon after the recording was finished. It is strange, but that’s the history now… Anyway, I guess it also is quite rare recording and so we can be even more grateful for exhuming it now… even if I cannot say that this album would be my favourite Swedish death metal LP. No; it’s not as great as the cult LPs of Gorement, Centinex, God Macabre, Dismember, Grave, Epitaph, Excruciate or Cemetery’s debut (to name just few bands). But it is not far behind! To some “Fading Illusions” may sound slightly like a mediocre album, but I personally think it is a solid effort and I enjoy every minute of it. Fulmination was becoming more and more melodic at that time, definitely they also became very good speaking of their technical, musical skills and also speaking of the composing abilities. The songs are just better written, have more interesting parts and are also more diverse, with some exceptionally fantastic riffs, which I just cannot resist. Sure, there happen some more mediocre moments, the album isn’t perfect, but such tracks as “The Seducer”, “Sons of Weakness”, “Fading Illusions” (with some excellent melodic leads reminding me Dismember from “Dreaming In Red”!), “Infected” (bang your head!!!!) are just excellent pieces of traditional sounding Swedish death metal and damn, I can only regret for the band not being able to release it back in the mid 90’s. As they say though “better late than never”, but I am sure that if it was released in 1994/95 then people today would call it a classic album and put it in the same category with the albums of Centinex, Uncanny and the likes… But hey, there’s still one more material to listen to… I don’t why they didn’t put all the releases in proper order, but side B is finished with “Through Fire” demo from 1992. In many opinions this is the best Fulmination recording of all, but I am not sure whether I agree or not. Obviously there are some positives about the demo: like the nice, rough Gorysound production, more demonic atmosphere (vocals!!!!), but if these songs are Fulmination’s best? Hmm, I don’t know. For some they are, personally I think that they’re OK, definitely it is the most vicious recording in the entire discography of the band, but I cannot say it is my favourite… Anyway, still very good stuff and worth checking out.
All in all The Crypt did excellent job with compiling all Fulmination recordings. It is pure feast for the fans of the Swedish death metal scene from the early / mid 90’s and don’t worry – all these recordings have been re-mastered, but sound excellent and I have no doubts that if you’ve been enjoying similar compilations like those of bands like Altar, Toxaemia, Interment, Abhoth and Uncanny, then Fulmination’s “Humanity’s Dirge” is also a must have for you. Add it to your shopping list, before the vinyl is still available and if you prefer CDs, then it also shouldn’t be a problem.
Final rate: 85/100

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