BRAINDEAD, The Human Remnants Of… (1988, demo)
This cover is like a victim’s-eye-view in the aftermath of nuclear holocaust. A mirage/hallucination of grinning death, the skull not actually there but seeming as real as the horrible remnants of the war. It’s formed of ash, dirt, and the skeletal remains of buildings that were blasted to bits. Even if it’s a mirage, the skull looks a little worried, questioning himself: “Am I cut out for this? Am I worthy of taking on the role of mirrored alter-image to the dying human that gazes at me to see only a grinning death’s head? Where can a guy get a cup of coffee around here? What the hell just happened? Why, why, why???”
This band from Portugal released two demos of cruel, ugly thrash in 1988, and then in the ’90s went the alternative/grunge route. There wasn’t even any kind of smooth transition. One decade they’re sounding like Protector, the next like a mixture of Beastie Boys, Faith No More and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ouch. Listening to the short but sweet The Human Remnants Of…, it’s surprising that nobody has combined this with the other demo from that year, The Final Judgement, for a reissue, because there are probably plenty of people out there who would appreciate this stuff. Think Iron Angel meets Destruction meets Protector…yeah, who lotta German-esque stuff happening here. The recording is terrible, the guitars sounding like cement mixers and the drums being a haphazard sonic mess, but the writing and performances are solid enough that the overall cacophony is enjoyable, the effort a laudable one. There’s just enough imagination in terms of riffs, tempi, and arrangement, it manages to stand just a few heads (skulls?) above many similar acts. Within both tracks proper (“Wings of Insanity” is a shorter intro piece) there are generous slabs of early death metal, reminding of Morbid Angel’s earliest material, the off-the-rails nuttiness of Incubus, and Necrovore’s merciless churning. Much worse has been recorded and, much later, reissued, and I’d probably pick up a repackaging of this stuff, especially if they could master from the source tapes. Good luck, right?
— Friar Wagner