DISMEMBER, Hate Campaign (2000, Nuclear Blast)
Although the original cover for this album also featured a big dumb skull, the limited vinyl release on Night of the Vinyl Dead features this finer BDS, although to be fair, neither is especially awesome. They’re both variations on the “skull swathed in flames” motif, which is basically always achieved through Photoshop hackery. Oh, how we would love to see someone build an actual fire around an actual skull! I think the closest we’ve come is the melting wax skull used twice by Oz and featured early in the Skullection. Every burning skull since then has been magic-wanded, feathered, and pasted with malice onto some stock flame texture. Laziness campaign!
This is the second of Dismember’s, “Sorry! We’re still cool!” albums after their half-hearted effort following Entombed’s ill-considered detour into death rock. To their credit, pretty much all of their post-death-rock albums are better than all of Entombed’s, and Dismember’s sellout album, Massive Killing Capacity is better than Wolverine Blues et al. But at the same time, excepting maybe the very first one, none of Dismember’s albums are total killers. They’re always very good, capturing basically everything you want in the Stockholm DM sound, while still never really rising to the level of “classic.” Others would disagree, I’m sure, and really, I probably sound more down on Dismember than is fair, because they’ve been good more or less their entire career, but there’s a reason they’re always compared to Entombed and not the other way around. And these later albums all admit a certain amount of In Flames or Arch Enemy style melodicism in a way that always sounds a little craven and opportunistic. Dismember might be a first tier Swedish death metal band, but surely the next band below them is the top of the second tier. They hang on by a thread, in other words.
— Friar Johnsen