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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Nespithe" is the debut full-length studio album by Finnish death metal act Demilich. The album was released in February 1993 by Necropolis Records. The album has long been out of print but Demilich have made the album available for free in digital form on their official website along with all their demos.

The music on "Nespithe" is technical, twisted and quite odd sounding death metal. The odd part of the description is mostly due to the very distinct sounding vocal delivery. Instead of having "regular" growling vocals in the music Demilich deliver a kinda juicy and burping vocal style. The vocals are similar to some of the juicy growling vocals on the first two Carcass albums. The difference is that the burping vocals on "Nespithe" are not complimentet by a higher pitched aggressive sneer. To be honest I couldn't stop laughing the first couple of times I listened to "Nespithe". The vocals simply sounded so silly and I couldn't take them serious at all. I still see them as a kinda humourous element in the music but I've grown to somewhat appreciate the innovative idea behind the choice of vocal style and oddly enough also the vocal style itself. I guess you can get used to a lot of things by trying hard enough or maybe some things simply take a long time to understand and appreciate. Well...consider yourself warned. This might be THE primary example of aquired taste.

...the reason why I've returned to "Nespithe" so many times despite my initial response to the vocals, is because the instrumental part of the music is intriguing to say the least. I like the fact that the music is technical in an old school death metal fashion. There's a twisted and original take on how to play death metal on "Nespithe" that's admirable IMO. Demilich clearly don't follow any particular style or influence and as a consequence they sound very much like themselves. Their extremely long and oddly titled songtitles further adds to the innovative nature of the music. How about: "The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son of Fourteen Four-Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed)" or "The Planet That Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh That It Desired...)". Now that's what I call songtitles!

The sound production is organic and gritty but still clear enough for the listener to hear all instruments in the mix. The sound suits the music perfectly.

"Nespithe" is probably one of the most original death metal albums out there. Demilich sadly folded before releasing a successor because I'm sure they would have kept releasing some really innovative music had they continued. "Nespithe" is a testament they can be proud of though and I think even those who can't stand the odd burping vocals will have to admit that "Nespithe" is a very original release. We need more boundary crushers in this world IMO and even though experiments like these are often an aquired taste, it's albums like this one that also makes people discuss and talk about music. All those faceless followers will be forgotten tomorrow but an album like "Nespithe" is an underground classic, that is still hailed and praised even almost 20 years after it was released. "Nespithe" is a truly innovative release fully deserving a 4 star rating.

Report this review (#578797)
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I find it quite funny that this band is here on ProgArchives. But this album is undeniable progressive although the progression here is not easy to spot. But it is here.

The vocals is some of the most extreme vocals ever to see the light of night. But what really takes the biscuit here is the jazz like bass. Did anyone forget to tell him this is a death metal album ? Those factors has made this album to the death metal classic it is. A free download it is too after releases through Repulse Records and Necropolis.

The music here is extreme death metal. Not as extreme as Berzerker, Sadistic Execution or Insision, but still enough extreme to shake the braincells around your cranium. The music is pretty catchy too. The song titles hilarious. The sound excellent.

This is a good album which behind the shock factor also has some really good music too. It is a recommended free download or a good cheap purchase through Ebay.

3 stars

Report this review (#580053)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Nespithe' - Demilich (10/10)

In a genre defined by its unfettered commitment to extremity, it's rare for a death metal album to retain its stopping power in the generations following its release. Sure, Scream Bloody Gore and Altars of Madness still earn respect and admiration from contemporary ears (and rightfully so), but they've since been trumped in terms of their heaviness and commitment to perversity. A large part of what has made Demilich such an enduring gem is their lack of successor; no artist since has made death metal that sounds quite like them. Even with the twentieth anniversary of its release having occurred earlier this year, Nespithe remains as twisted, puzzling, and frightening as ever. Newcomers may find themselves put off by the unconventional guitarwork and (ahem) distinctive vocals, but there are few metal albums I've heard that leave such a lasting impression. Nespithe is death metal for the thinking man, and my only disappointment with the album is that Demilich never chose to make another one.

While most certainly mired within the confines of what we would label as death metal, Demilich took the familiar ingredients of the genre and forged something unmistakably unique with them. Death metal's trademark aggression is filtered through a labyrinthine network of time signatures and the sort of dissonant harmonies you may expect to mind in modernist classical music. The rhythms ebb and flow with fluidity like a river current, much unlike the straightforward rampage you would expect to hear from a death metal album over twenty years old. Throughout the album, Demilich pays a consistent attention to detail in the shape of the riffs and flow of the composition. Whereas it would be expected even from a left-field band like this one to loosen the reins for a while and offer a taste of simplicity, Demilich doesn't compromise their sophistication for a second. Even the slower parts of the song structures are complex and rich with detail.

On paper, the guitarwork on Nespithe might be sound like a description of jazz music before anything else, although you wouldn't think it for a second while listening to music itself. Contrary to most metal, the chords seem to follow the lead guitar, as opposed to the other way around. While there's certainly a proper method at work with these riffs, they sound liberated from conventional scales, pairing notes that wouldn't normally go together. The guitars weave riffs that jitter and twitch like thoughts inside the mind of a madman. Demilich's compositions are elevated greatly by a focus on harmony otherwise alien to most death metal. Tapping into the same pool of insight as neoclassical composers Krzysztof Penderecki and Gyorgy Ligeti, the guitar harmonies are unsettling, as if the two melodic lines are pulling in the opposite directions. Harmony is an exercise in music most often used to make a composition more beautiful or 'pretty', but the opposite rings true for Demilich's use of it on Nespithe.

Although the lasting quality of Demilich's work is large part in thanks to their inventive guitar work, nothing has contributed so much to the album's reputation as have the now-infamous vocals of Antti Boman. The album booklet itself proudly proclaims that no effects were used to tweak the vocals, which might only be described as 'cavernous'. It is typical in death metal for the vocalist to rely on aggression and volume to get his point across; Boman goes for something different entirely. Listeners have described his delivery as anything from a low guttural to a controlled burp, and they wouldn't be wrong either; the man's vocals are almost indiscernibly low-pitched, and quiet enough to slip right by an inattentive listener. I don't know if I've heard of another extreme metal vocalist (sparing Silencer's Nattramn) sparking such division in listeners; Boman demonstrates you don't necessarily need volume to have presence. Although an acquired taste, the belching gutturals are eerie like nothing else. Where other death metal vocalists retain a shred of their humanity, the vocals here don't sound like they're being uttered by a human being. It's no doubt clichéd to say in a metal review, but the gurgling sounds downright Lovecraftian in scope and atmosphere. The vocals are not intended to be the focus of the listener; instead, it adds a thundering resonance beneath the miasmatic riffs, quiet enough so that they never get in the way of the album's strongest suit. Lacking entirely in dynamic, Boman's delivery may be something of a one-trick gimmick, but considering that there's still nothing else quite like it twenty years after the album's release, the vocals still stand as a boon to the album's standing and immortality. It's a shame that some listeners can't look past Demilich's vocal choices, because even if Boman's vocals lack the range of a more conventional masterpiece, they still come secondary to the otherworldly riffs that consume Nespithe.

Demilich enjoy a production style perfectly-fitted for their work. It sounds organic, pleasantly murky, and just crisp enough to showcase the technical finesse of the riffs themselves. The drum production could have done with a little greater dynamic range, but there's nothing significant to complain about the way Nespithe has been crafted. In particular, the guitar tone never ceases to impress me; it sounds diseased and dark, as if the amplifiers are bellowing from some hellish underworld. When you imagine how difficult it must have been to properly mix vocals as low and subdued as Boman's into the mix, it's pretty impressive to hear them coming out so evenly with the rest of the music. Although the sheer alien illegibility of his vocals make the lyrics' effect on the music negligible at best, Demilich have penned some pretty schizophrenic poetry to match the album's monstrous atmosphere, and are well-worth checking out. It's an album marvellously consistent in tone and style, and though Demilich do not stray any bit from their style, there are plenty of riffs that stand out as being memorable, provided the listener is diligent enough to seek them.

It only took one full-length for Demilich to innovate and, in turn, perfect their brand of alien death metal. In a way, it almost bodes well for the band's cult of legacy that they never graced listeners with a second album. It's forced listeners to get the most out of this one album, and left Nespithe a truly 'one-of-a-kind' experience. The belching bean-burrito burp vocals will turn some listeners off immediate, but to the uneasily swayed, there is richness and sophistication to enjoy here beyond almost anything else the genre has offered.

Report this review (#610919)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gorguts' Obscura is frequently called "the Trout Mask Replica of death metal". Nespithe might be considered the Ascension or Free Jazz. It's not just that the band's squalling guitars and inhumanly low vocals are atypical of the genre; they also have little apparent predecessor and no one since has managed to duplicate them (which may be one reason Demilich have yet to make another full-length album, though they reformed last year and have not ruled out the possibility of new material). This music genuinely sounds like it was composed and performed by aliens.

The inclusion of Demilich on a progressive site may seem weird at first, but there's undeniably a logic to it: the sheer experimentation of this music represents a progression of the genre of death metal that has seldom been equalled elsewhere, and the compositional complexity of the music does have roots in prog even if they're not immediately apparent. It's not just the unusual uses of scales, rhythms, and harmonies (although those are highly unusual); even the compositional structure of this music is sometimes unusual.

This album may take several listens to absorb (although, after enough listening, several of the songs do become "catchy" in their own way). But the material here is well worth absorbing, and offers rewards that are equalled by few other death metal recordings. This is one of those "unique" albums that really is unique.

Interested listeners are strongly urged to consider the 2CD/3LP compilation 20th Adversary of Emptiness, which contains the band's entire discography, including three previously unrecorded songs. Nespithe has been remastered from the original tapes for the first time, and has never sounded better. (It should be mentioned that, unlike a lot of modern remasters of old classics, the material on this compilation is not ruined with "loudness war" shenanigans; the music remains every bit as dynamic as it has ever been on the new remaster, with plenty of space to breathe). The bonus material is also well worth checking out; the demos (with the exception of the final track) have comparable recording quality to the album and do a good job helping listeners understand how the band developed its signature sound (and also contain a few tracks that were not re-recorded for the album), while the new material is up to the standard of the songs on the album. Hopefully this is not the last material we'll hear from this enigmatic band.

Report this review (#1404190)
Posted Sunday, April 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
5 stars After releasing four solid demos, DEMILICH solidified their technical death metal approach by evolving from the old school death metal similar to Bolt Thrower to the full-fledged progressive death metal band they would become on their first and only full-length album NESPITHE. The band is basically the brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Antti Boman who formed the band in Kuopio, Finland in1990. The band name DEMILICH comes from the Dungeons & Dragons game. A lich in the game is a spell caster seeking to defy death through magical means and a DEMILICH is a lich that exists long enough to reach a point in its evolution where it turns away from the physical realm and accesses other planes of existence. The title NESPITHE shows Antti Boman's love of world play as it is simply an anagram of "The Spine." This wordplay also finds its way into some of the tracks like "Erecshyrinol" which once the letters are switched around becomes "No Lyrics Here."

One of the most striking and immediate differences with DEMILICH in contrast to every other metal band out there is the immediate effect of the vocals. Antti Boman went somewhere few others in all of music go by employing extremely low gurgled vocals. This is called the vocal fry register and is the lowest of all vocalizations. Despite the evil sounding nature of this technique, it is used rarely in different genres ranging from gospel to country music but has found a more suitable home in its extreme forms in various forms of metal music with DEMILICH taking this to the utmost extreme where Antti sounds like he's gurgling his own blood or vomit or something equally disgusting! However once you've inured to the vocals which are the most immediate difference from death metal contemporaries, it is really the technical wizardry of the instruments and song structures that stand out. The instrumental prowess of Mikko Virnes' drumming is the backbone or the spine or NESPITHE of the entire musical flow. His bizarre rhythms and jazz-tinged lightning fast drum rolls provide the perfect canvass for the guitar riffs and bass lines to build some highly technical death metal that can sound alienating upon first listen but i have found it to be addicting. The song structures provide plenty of surprises and unpredictability while staying firmly in the death metal camp complete with heavy riffing, blastbeats, Morbid Angel type soloing and, of course, macabre and deranged subject matter!

NESPITHE is simply a wild and aggressive romp through the darkest and most forboding sonicscapes one can think of. DEMILICH successfully takes you into another world on NESPITHE that matches the intensity of the hellacious album cover (no matter which one you may encounter). The alienating vocals mixed with the aggressive dissonant and inapposite instrumentation is a successful recipe that rewards the progressive rock aficionado while satisfying the most extreme head banger in the metal music universe. This is a rare combination for the individuals who love complexity and have a craving for challenging music that requires repeated listens to decipher. NESPITHE is one of those rare technically constructed extreme metal albums that ranks high on my list of classic masterpieces that employs progressive techniques, high speed aggression and atmospheric escapism. I personally have never had a problem with the gurgled vocals. One of the things that puzzles me is how complacent the metal community can be as a whole, preferring to worship consistency and musical complacency rather than rewarding true artistic deviations from the norm. Perhaps this was too much too fast for some but for me NESPITHE sits high on my list as one of the most innovative extreme metal albums of the ages. As with the previous demos you can find NESPITHE on the digitally remastered compilation "20th Adversary Of Emptiness" which includes every single thing the band ever recorded.

Report this review (#1425816)
Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars The vocals of this album are identical to my english teacher's when the final spelling bee round starts.

This album is very similar to Gorguts' Obscura in the way that it's astonishingly brutal, heavy, very brutal, and I mean super heavy. Oh and it's also very brutal. Spread across eleven tracks with exaggeratedly long titles, Nespithe is the debut and only studio album by Finland band Demilich.

This album became a cult classic due to its pompous definition of Death Metal, it grabbed Death's music and made it far heavier and darker, with barely any melody and a toad singing on top. Good luck understanding what those lyrics even talk about! I can't say much about individual songs since most of them sound very similar, but they're the cream of the top of death metal.

To be fair it's sad that this was the only album this band released, considering how promising it looked and sounded. With that said I must say it's five stars for me. Absolutely love that album cover by the way, those girls are hot.


Report this review (#2581283)
Posted Sunday, July 25, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars So heavy, Jesus Christ. Nespithe is the debut and only album by Finnish Death Metal band Demilich. Nespithe, which was released in 1993, became very quickly a cult classic because of its bizarre time signatures, raw sound, insane technicality and guttural vocals in the low fry register. It features eleven tracks that sound very similar as you would expect, and its can be perfectly described as classic death metal, with a few hints of prog here and there. It is remembered along with Gorguts' Obscura as a key album for the genre, since it helped in the development of the progressive death metal genre. So you can say it's essential for the genre.
Report this review (#2586867)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2021 | Review Permalink

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