A first step in the underworld

Some months ago a guy from South america asked me to write a french scene report for his fanzine, but I thought another scene report would be too usual and I felt more inspired by older bands, and especially the ones who released the very first demos I ordered... I'm not sure of how and when the zine will come out, so here's the article.


Hello from the underworld!
In this little article I won't talk about the most "famous" French bands from the underground past, since you probably already heard about them or have their releases in your collection (MASSACRA, AGRESSOR, MERCYLESS, or maybe LOUDBLAST and CRUSHER...), but I will choose to talk about the first demos I bought! The beginnings of the deep underground travel!
I began listening to metal in 1994, and even if Internet didn't exist, it wasn't so hard to get in touch with the underground, if you really wanted: A magazine like HARD'N HEAVY used to review a couple of French demos each month, and if you were lucky there were some Death metal bands! Yeah! So a couple of letter, orders, and you received your first demos and flyers! And you started writing more letters... The infinite circle of underground contacts had begun!

One of the first demos I received was the great tape of ABYSSALS (Demo 1994)! This band consisted of ex-MUTILATED musicians, and played great satanic Death metal la MORBID ANGEL with super chaotic leads! The band had a great potential and very good energy, much better than other French bands who "tried", listening to this demo today it still has great power! The band was supposed to released an Ep on HEAD NOT FOUND recs (Label of Metallion from SLAYER Mag) but it didn't happen and the band was unfortunately put on ice...

I also got a good demo of EVITERNITY ("Melmacian" Demo'94) that played techno death on this tape: Understand good technical death metal with lots of tempo changes. They had great skills back then, a nice atmosphere and quite catchy songs! If I remember well, few leads were influenced by classical music, but it didn't soften the brutality of music... The band also did a demo before, which was some kind technical thrash, a quite nice way... Unfortunately the band later did a demo in the melodic death/ black way and it wasn't so good... They re-released these 3 demos as a CDr recently.  

I also ordered a demo of EXECUTION! Before this, the band played something like average thrash metal, but on this 2 songs demo ("Schizophrenic Presence" Promo 1994) it was great Death metal, with a lot of great ideas, tempos and riffs changes! It was really well done! This demo was re-released a few years ago as a CDr with bonus tracks! But beware, because the band changed its style a few years later, and now they play something like atmospheric death black with lots of keyboards, I'm not sure many readers would like it...

I also received a good demo from MESMERIZE ("Eyes of life" Demo'94) who used to play techno death metal, the band was quite skilled, and their songs were quite complex (for this time) but it wasn't overproduced and the sound was underground, it had a nice obscurity and wasn't bad at all! Nice atmosphere, a bit claustrophobic :)
Their following and second demo was a bit different, a bit more melodic and original... To be honest I don't remember it very well, so I will say nothing (Maybe I would like it more nowadays).

There was a band called MELEM ("Ties of death" Demo'94) wich used to play something between Death metal, and doomy death with an atmospheric side, it wasn't bad, the death metal parts were quite furious as far as I remember. The songs were maybe a bit too long, but some doomy atmospheric parts weren't bad, so it helped to make the whole cool. A few years later, in 1997, they released an album, but I was going more and more into stronger death metal while the songs I heard on a sampler was becoming more and more atmospheric, so I skipped them... Apparently they split up... Then in the 2000's a guy of the band did a label called SACRAL records for a few years, before it got bankrupts or something...

A band called GOTHIC was some kind of the most brutal at the time. Their first release I heard was a MCD entitled "Brutal conditions for extreme alchemy" and released in 1995, it was somewhere between death metal and brutal death with grind touches... As far as I remember it was one of the most extreme French bands from this time, I might be wrong, but there weren't so many extreme bands like that... Don't pay attention to the name "Gothic", at this time it sounded cool and melodic "Gothic metal" didn't exist at all. On their next release the band turned a bit more professional and also diversified their music to other extreme styles, I was less interested because I was becoming more narrow minded to obscure Death metal Ah Ah! The band split up, and one of the guys is playing hadcore techno under the name FAST FORWARD.

I also had the demo of a brutal death band called HUMANIZE, their tape "Foundations" from 1994 wasn't bad at all... As far as I remember it was quite heavy brutal death with SUFFOCATION influences, and a nice deaf sound... But I didn't listen to this demo since yeaaars, and I can't find anyone who has a copy! (Or isnt too fucking lazy) Argh!

Listening to a local metal radioshow, I also discovered a quite nice band from my suburb: NOCTURNAL FEARS at this time played a nice melodic thrash/ heavy metal (On the "F.I.G.H.T demo'95). It wasn't the most furious or extreme, but their songs sounded well and it was well built. Maybe they were influenced by the melodic epoch of LOUDBLACK back then (Same suburb as well). Anyway, for those who want to know, before this band used to play death doom, and after they turned to something like industrial metal... Many French bands used to changed their style from time to time as you see... Sometimes it was disappointing for the listeners, sometimes it was great...

In my area, there also used to be a quite nice band called ARCKAN OBSCURA. Their first demo wasn't bad, it shew a band trying to play death metal like DEICIDE with a little black metal influences, it wasn't perfect but quite encouraging for a local band, and the sound was quite cool... Unfortunately, their second demo shew a total change of style and they suddenly played melodic black metal la Cradle of filth! Disappointment! And they also released a MCD under this same style... Boring...

In my area there used to be an Hard rock/ Us heavy metal band called CRAZY LIZZY... Saw them once live around 1995, it was quite ok... Not sure if any of the readers is interested at all... Now some of these guys play in a KISS cover band called DYNASTY (Saw them live one time, it looks quite cool... There's only a problem: The bassist do not have a long enough tongue ahah)

I was doing some tape trading, and a guy sent me a copy of his band's demo from 1995. The band was called DESECRATE and the tape was called "From pleasure to suffering". I thought it wasn't bad, something influenced by BAPHOMET and CANNIBAL CORPSE if I remember well, but they didn't make much promotion, and they probably split up...

Due to the average communication that resulted of not very efficient networks (and laziness?), it wasn't easy for the bands to communicate (Not as easy as with the internet!) and so few years later I could learn about the existence of more bands that were hidden in my own area, such as DISGUST who played and still play a quite good brutal death! When I got in touch with their music in 1997 or 1998 it was good brutal death influenced by the Us style (Cannibal corpse, Suffocation, Later Broken hope... On the "Inquisition" Demo tape), now it's a bit more influenced by Morbid angel yet still Us brutal death alike. This band is still alive, and should release a second album sometimes...

I also learnt there used to be a band called INFEST (Beware, there were 2 French Infest) which played good obscure brutal death. Their first demo wasn't bad, a bit more thrash death and Pestilence influenced, but the second one had really great moments and atmospheres! This one entitled "On stake and consumed" (From 1992) shew a quite professional band with an heavy production. They were going to record a full-length album, but unfortunately one of the guitarist left to play modern/ atmospheric metal whatever in FORLORN EMOTION... So the drummer went to play in DISGUST, another guitarist in KRHOMA DEATH (This band released an album that was quite close to OBITUARY, but I'm not sure if it was officially on CD, it was only available as a tape from a local label for some time...) etc

Then few years ago, I was visiting a second hand open air market (It happens every week end during summer, spring... Each town can organize it once or twice a year) and found an old demo of a French band from my area called DAGON. I got their "Bound to mutation" demo tape (1991) for a very good price, it's classical and quite basic death metal, but quite listenable when you're in the mood. Some maniacs and archivists could dig it I guess.

I also bought few demos of not so metallic bands, there was CORRUPTION who played something between hardcore and metal (Not current metalcore or deathcore, it was different) which was quite ok, some riffs seemed nice. ACTING OUT played a strange mix between hardcore and industrial metal with many samples, they had a demo tape and few years later also a MCD. This band was formed from the ashes of BRAIN DECAY (Thrash) which might be a bit more familiar to some readers?

Ok, this was a little article about the first demos I bought when I was a teenage, and then few years later I was going to be totally engulfed in the underground world, release a fanzine, receive tons of demos and play in a few bands! But it could be another story as it would take too much pages from this fanzine :)