SWAZAFIX - Anthems of Apostasy (VIC Records - CD 2013)
I think it is really awesome that labels like VIC are giving a second life to all those sometimes almost forgotten and less known albums / demos... Let people who don't know these jewels get their copies and enjoy killer death metal! The Dutch label has recently released a series of such exhumed albums from bands like Torchure, Phlebotomized, Polluted Inheritance, etc, but personally I really wanted to listen to their album with Swazafix demos. I only discovered this band maybe couple of years ago, when writing an article about early Asphyx, but I instantly wanted to hear the music… and I couldn’t, because these two demos, which Swazafix released in the beginning of the 90’s were just impossible to get, even on the mp3 format. So this is why I was so damn happy when “Anthems of Apostasy” came out. This way I can finally listen to this band and check what were they like and what Theo Loomans was doing after leaving Asphyx in 1990. There are both demos of Swazafix compiled on the CD: “Promo 1991” and “Demo 1992”… arrggghhhh, and with over 30 minutes of music it is enough to rip my guts out!
And I must say that I am really impressed, but also surprised with the quality of Swazafix music. First off, I admit that the production value of both demos is way, way better than I would ever expect! Damn, both demos sound just bloody awesome and if I expected rather rough, primitive production – maybe like on Asphyx demos – then nothing like that is here; “Anthems of Apostasy” sounds just as good as a full length albums from that period of time… I mean, it even sounds better than Asphyx’s “Embrace the Death” LP! I don’t know if such an awesome and relatively clean production comes because of the mastering, which Berthus Westerhuys did for “Anthems of Apostasy” or Swazafix sounded so damn good also originally on cassettes, but if these demos were like that then I have no fuckin idea why Swazafix didn’t get an interest from labels back then. Damn, both demos are just excellent, so I cannot understand why Swazafix ceased to exist so quickly and never released an album! They were good enough and today their name should stand next to Asphyx, Thanatos, Sinister, Dead Head, Pestilence, God Dethroned, Acrostichon, Gorefest, Dissect or Altar. The more then I am happy that “Anthems of Apostasy” saw the light of the day and I can finally enjoy the music of Swazafix… it is a true forgotten gem, in my opinion!
A very good production is one thing, which really surprised me, but the music is also slightly different to what I expected. You know, I thought that Theo Loomans was a lot into Hellhammer, Venom, Delirium and early Asphyx of corpse, so I was also expecting such archaic, doomy, rough death metal. Meanwhile it turns out that Swazafix is quite technical, brutal and violent, often also quite fast death metal band, which is probably closer to such Pestilence from “Consuming Impulse” and to Death rather than to Asphyx! There’re even some thrash metal influences here and there, so generally the music has almost nothing in common with Theo’s previous band… but that’s good, I guess, I wouldn’t need to get an exact copy of “Embrace the Death”. But really, already the first song “Plaintive Parallels” brings some unexpected, technical riffs, just listen how it begins! And the result, along with kind of agonising vocals of Theo, is very good. Then “Anthem of Apostasy” is even better; it truly is a killer song! Saying so, “Lifelong Imprisonment” from the other hand feels like too chaotic and I sometimes have no idea where is this song heading to… All these songs were from “Demo 1992”, while from “Promo 1991” I need to mention “Insaniac”, which is just killer track, very reminiscent to early Pestilence, with very characteristic screaming vocals of Theo, more straight forward riffing, but also surprisingly sudden switch of the tempos. And with some other awesome tracks like “Burdened Sufferance” and “Sanctamonious Godz” I think I prefer the debut of Swazafix slightly more than their second demo, although both are just very, very good and as I wrote earlier I have no idea why the hell this band never managed to appear on the scene more officially… well, until now.
To conclude then “Anthems of Apostasy” is just awesome compilation, I am very pleased that finally I had a chance to hear the music of Swazafix and check what was Theo doing after he left Asphyx. I am maybe only slightly disappointed that the booklet doesn’t show anything more, no bio or collection of rare photos, just some liner notes from Bob Bagchus and Eric Daniels. Well, I suppose there’s not much of all of it left and simply the archives of Swazafix are just poor. For example it’s a shame that none of the other Swazafix members got involved into this CD; although I can understand that they all may be gone somewhere and are impossible to find, if we don’t even know their surnames. I wonder if they even know that their old band has been published on CD hehe? All in all I can only recommend you this awesome CD. Get it and listen to one of the most interesting Dutch death metal bands, in mu opinion!
Standout tracks: “Insaniac”, “Burdened Sufferance”, “Anthem of Apostasy”, “Sanctamonious Godz”
Final rate: 85/100