Nihilist was only a footnote in the burgeoning Swedish death metal scene of the late '80s, but they were an important footnote. Four of Nihilist's members -- singer L.G. Petrov, guitarist Alex Hellid, bassist Johnny Hedlund, and drummer Nicke Andersson -- went on to become members of Entombed, one of the most important bands in the history of Nordic death metal. Some Entombed fans would argue that Entombed was really Nihilist with a name change; others would counter that no, Entombed and Nihilist were two separate bands just as Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam were two separate bands. At any rate, Nihilist's demos have historic value -- which is why death metal historians need to be aware of this 48-minute CD. The main focus of The Nihilish Demos is, as the title indicates, demos that the short-lived band recorded in 1988 and 1989. Nihilist never provided an official full-length album, and these demos are the only chance to hear what they sounded like in the studio. Not everything on this disc is by Nihilist -- the last three tracks are from Entombed's But Life Goes On demo of 1989. But Nihilist is the main focus, and their demos capture the primal, raw, punk-minded spirit that death metal had in the beginning. In 1988 and 1989, death metal was something new -- it was very much an outgrowth of thrash metal, and the thrash influence is quite evident on Nihilist's demos. However, Nihilist's work was more extreme and over-the-top than the thrash metal that Metallica, Exodus, and Megadeth were providing in the late '80s; Nihilist was seriously into Slayer and Death, and one hears both of those influences on this disc. The Nihilish Demos won't win any awards for its audiophile-like sound quality, but the urgency of the performances comes through -- and while this 2005 release isn't recommended to casual death metal listeners, it is easily recommended to Entombed fans who consider themselves death metal historians and hardcore collectors.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson