When Dissection came along in 1989, the Scandinavian death metal/black metal scene was full of one-dimensional, amelodic grindcore bands that liked one tempo: ultra-fast. Such bands could be exhilarating, but their limitations were obvious -- and they were extremely predictable. Dissection, however, tried to avoid grindcore's pitfalls. The Swedish band was as blistering and ferocious as anyone in Scandinavia's death metal/black metal scene, and singer Jon Nödtveidt favored the sort of choked satanic vocals that death metallers were known for. But Dissection was more musical, often changing tempos and throwing in the occasional acoustic guitar. A collection of Dissection's early rarities from 1990-1992, The Past Is Alive demonstrates that even in the beginning, the band could hold your interest much longer than other death metallers. The Past Is Alive doesn't contain Dissection's best-known or most essential recordings; the CD's material ranges from 1991's Into Infinite Obscurity EP to the original demo versions of songs (including "Mistress of the Bleeding Sorrow," "Feathers Fell," and "Frozen") that ended up on its first full-length album The Somberlain. Also included are two ultra-rare recordings by Satanized, a little-known death metal outfit that Nödtveidt co-led on the side in 1991. Taken from a rehearsal, "Born in Fire" and "Satanized" are plagued by lousy sound quality; nonetheless, hardcore collectors will be glad to catch a rare glimpse of that short-lived band. And collectors are the people that Necropolis is going after with The Past Is Alive, which isn't recommended to casual listeners. Although enjoyable, this CD is strictly for seasoned Dissection fans.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson