Thrash ‘Til Death #36: Dead End (Sweden) 1989-1992

THRASH ‘TIL DEATH is a 50 week long set of features exploring the legends who crossed over between thrash and death metal between 1983-1993. The focus is primarily on under-served, unknown, and exemplar bands/releases. The selection is comprehensive but the numbering is not indicative of any type of rank or value: The order of band appearance is arbitrarily chosen. E-mail me if you want to suggest any relevant bands!


Two very professional studio quality demo tapes from the early 90’s and an original single by a Black Sabbath cover band are all the information one can hope to glean from countless internet searches on the subject of Trollhättan/Uddevalla born thrashers Dead End. The quartet that’d landed into form by 1991 would kick their career off with a stunning classic thrash metal tape that was 100% album worthy if it’d been released in 1986, when considering the state of Swedish thrash in 1991 it makes sense they weren’t picked up. Although they’d gone in a more ‘commercial’ direction on their second demo the following year it was probably too little too late to start moving in a Bay Area influenced thrash direction but the results are no less impressive. Either death metal wasn’t the way forward for Dead End‘s tastes or they weren’t up for learning those skill sets and it didn’t help that thrash metal was completely dead in Sweden (by most accounts) while the underground death metal mania in the country was peaking there in ’92-’93. So, I don’t have a ton of information this time around and this will be a very brief entry but these demos are just too good to not count among bands that’d toyed with death/thrash metal on their way to defunct between the late 80’s and early 90’s. Hey! I’ve done my best to research as much as I can but please feel free to message me (grizzlybutts@hotmail.com) or leave a comment if I’ve left out anything vital or gotten something horribly wrong!


 

Artist Dead End
Title [Type/Year] 2 Minute Warning [Demo/1991]
Rating [4.25/5.0] LISTEN on YouTube! [Alt Link I] [Alt Link II]

I’ll try to keep the ironic use of “dead end” to a minimum as I can but the future sounded incredibly bright for this gang of four who’d come together in the name of thrash metal an hour north of Göteborg in Uddevalla. What this sounds like is a group of folks who’d waited until they’d mastered thrash metal rhythms and style before they put themselves out there and in the process they’d inadvertently inherited the brutal thrash metal style of the late 80’s, having formed officially in 1989. You’ll start to hear Kreator riffs right off the bat, and perhaps the ‘Extreme Aggression’ variety most clearly, but nothing about Dead End rests on such strict thrash metal confinement. Soon some Nocturnus-lite keyboards, heavy pit riffs (well, the thrash kind), and death rasps suggest that this band might’ve been ready for the cutting edge of brutal thrash at the time but their approach was still very much classic thrash in style.

The riffs here range from ‘Emotional Playground’-era Stone to No Return‘s ‘Psychological Torment’ and surely some hints of Sepultura along the way to the Kreator-isms that ultimately dominate. These influences and general stylistic elements often manifest in clusters, particularly on “A Tomb With a View” where it seems all of their biggest most ‘progressive’ ideas were crammed tightly into its success. It might just be the name of the band but these elements add up to the style of a band I’d previously covered, or some approximation of Turbo‘s (Poland) ‘Dead End’ album. I understand why the rise of death metal might have muted this band’s future but I think I consider that more of a tragedy than most, simply because I am a huge thrash metal fan and these riffs are excellent front to back on this ~28 minute tape. The glossy cover, the death/thrash style, the tight and professional songwriting, the riffs, I guess I just don’t get why this band weren’t immediately signed for this tape alone. The lyrics are also pretty good with some of the translation kind of messy but they generally speak of the end of the world, the illness that is organized religion (“Slave by the Cross”), and the political corruption (“Draining the World”) that will one day cause humanity to hit a Dead End. Looks like they were right!


 

Artist Dead End
Title [Type/Year] Infinite [Demo/1992]
Rating [3.75/5.0] LISTEN on YouTube

Recorded roughly nine months after the ‘2 Minute Warning’ demo tape Dead End were back with another 20 minutes of death/thrash and this time they were more Bay Area thrash in style than ever and not that far from a mildly sophisticated thrash band like Airdash (or Midas Touch) in many respects but still carrying a death/thrash metal vocal style on certain songs. The opening track “Enter My Domain” is clearly an appeal to the popular thrash metal at the time without going groove metal. Hints of Sepultura and Testament really start to conflict on ‘Infinite’ as the rougher and loud sound of the demo suggests they were ready to make a big, loud and brutal thrash album that would never come to fruition. Some of these songs seem to want to go in a pure thrash direction (“Enter My Domain”, “Fate in Black”) whereas others seem intent on moving towards death metal (“Detained Liberation”, “Born by Greed”) and it makes me wonder if they’d called it quits due to being unsure of the way forward or, just general disinterest.

‘Infinite’ is still a fine demo no matter how your parse out the changes in style and sound, yet it would be fair to say these songs were rushed, they have little impact as a complete demo, and the recording wasn’t as clear as the first tape. So, this plays second fiddle in my mind at least. The band would call it quits that same year although I have no official information to verify this and there were certainly no more releases from the band at this point. The last clue comes from an Uddevalla based Black Sabbath tribute band that had been active since 1984.


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Artist Sabotage
Title [Type/Year] Faith is an Illusion / The Answer [Single/1993]
Rating [3.0/5.0] LISTEN on Bandcamp!

You don’t hear much about cover bands but a select few do end up recording original material and Sabotage are one of the better takes on Black Sabbath that I’ve heard put to tape from this early 90’s era of Swedish doom metal. Some of the instrumentation here does remind me of ‘No More Tears’-era Ozzy with a hint of later Candlemass more than anything else but each of the 7+ minute tracks smokes. How does this tie into Dead End? Well, bassist Peter Hansson has played in this cover band for an indeterminate amount of time. Again there is little to no information even on this band outside of their ties to Dead End and members of Necrocurse. I don’t mind the mystery behind it, each demo tape speak for their own value and this 7″ from a covers band is remarkably good as well. Two very good things from north of Gothenburg that I wish we all knew a bit more about. If you’re just skimming through to the end then make sure you at least listen to the entire ‘2 Minute Warning’ demo tape as I find it to be an exceptional example of late 80’s thrash and the need to keep up with the intensity of 80’s death metal.


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