Buried to Rise
posted on 3/2011 By:
Forgotten early Swedish death metal band Toxaemia gets the double-disc deluxe treatment with Buried To Rise, but there’s a bit of a hitch – it’s the same disc twice, albeit in different forms. The first disc contains updated versions of the band’s entire output – two demos and an EP – remixed and remastered by the supremely talented Dan Swano. The second disc contains those same tracks as they were originally released. It’s a bit of an odd approach, offering both versions, but Swano’s new versions do increase the quality markedly, and the collector in me is happy to have the originals, as well.
Though they were Swedish and death metal, Toxaemia wasn’t exactly what you think of when you hear “Swedish death metal from the early 1990s.” That glorious buzzsaw Sunlight tone is absent, regrettably, but nevertheless, Buried To Rise unearths some solid death more akin to the likes of early Floridian practitioners or to fellow oft-overlooked Scandinavians Crematory, more so than to the geographical-genre giants like Entombed and Dismember. Tracks like “Dark Wisdom” and “Crematorium” (which appears twice, as it was recorded twice) rip through some early crypt-level death with gusto and skill, rife with simple but effective riffing and some deep and dank guttural vocals. Though they weren’t the most proficient band around, Toxaemia possessed a vitality and a youthful exuberance that, especially in the newer mixes of these tunes, transcended their limited experience.
As mentioned, the Swano-ized versions exhibit far greater sound quality, far better mixes, far more wallop. Although they vary in quality depending on the source material, the originals aren’t shabby – a bit flat, yes, and lessened, for sure, compared to the new punch given in remastering, but for those of us who grew up in the era of dubbed cassettes and low-budget recordings, there is a certain nostalgia in hearing this first-wave death metal with that compressed and dulled tone. The tracks from the EP – the band’s sole official release, 1990’s Beyond The Realm, released on Seraphic Decay – fare better than those that surround them, for the obvious reasons of being Toxaemia’s one professional output. Still, largely lesser recordings be damned: the playing field is mostly leveled by the inclusion of the Swano-fied disc, and anyone listening will automatically gravitate towards that, towards those sparkling new tracks, and rightfully so – that disc is the shiniest diamond of all here, and a hearty hell-yes to whomever decided to hand these tapes over for the upgrades. It’s a matter of simple polishing – these modernized mixes show a ferocity and an edge missing from the earlier releases. (Reviewer’s note: the production score above is a composite – the Swano masters get a 5; the originals get a 3.)
Many a time I’ve declared my love for vintage death, Swedish death and this type of archival release, so this one’s kind of a no-brainer for me, being a combination of the three. For those of us who spend countless hours and dollars (or whatever your current currency) scouring the used bins and websites for metal from yesteryear, Buried To Rise is truly a gem. Truthfully, it’s not a mandatory purchase for exploration of early European death, but it is definitely a wonderful addition to the collections of anyone interested in what talents lurked (and were ultimately nearly lost) in the shadows of the Swedish scene.
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