Various Artists Death is Just the Beginning Vol. 5
Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Volume 5! This is one compilation series that refuses to die! I have been following the Death is... series since Volume 1 came out back in the early '90s. Each volume offered loads of new and unfamiliar music to my ears. In addition, Nuclear Blast usually threw on some unreleased material, which is always damn cool. And every compilation, except Volume 1, has been a double disc! I must say that Volume 4 was a little disappointing...I just wasn't as enthused about the music being offered. But Volume 5 kicks back with a vengeance, which I'm sure is partly due to the resurgence of metal in general.
The first three Death is... compilations were all death metal. With Volume 4, Nuclear Blast started integrating other forms of metal with bands like Amorphis, Therion, and Left Hand Solution. Volume 5 goes even further and almost divides disc one and two between death and power metal. On disc one you'll find album cuts by Covenant, Sinister, Benediction, Raise Hell, Hypocrisy, Gorgoroth, and Death. And as usual, several tracks are labeled as "unreleased", although I think these are merely a preview and will be released soon if they haven't been already. This would include tracks by Dimmu Borgir, Agathodaimon, Children of Bodom, Godgory, Satyricon, In Flames, Gardenian, and S.O.D. But my two favorites are the Dismember and Reaper tracks. Dismember cover Death's "Beyond the Unholy Grave", and this is exclusive to the compilation. Also currently unreleased is "Ungodly" by Reaper, who was formed by former Dissection drummer Tobias Kellgren. Because my ears weep the loss of Dissection, it is great to hear someone pick up where they left off.
Disc two features album cuts by Hammerfall, Steel Prophet, New Eden, Therion, Dismal Euphony, Crematory, Meshuggah, and Drecksau. So-called "unreleased" tracks appear by Primal Fear, Hollow, Narnia, Stahlhammer, Am I Blood, Pegazus, and Sinergy. Plus, there are two "unavailable" tracks by Pyogenesis and Sinner. I still cannot get into all of this majestic power metal stuff, but I do like Hollow. They seem like Memory Garden clones. But since Memory Garden rules, how could I not like Hollow? And Nuclear Blast has finally convinced me that Therion is cool. And although it wouldn’t have fit in style, the mellow instrumental “Unanything” by Meshuggah should have been added to the compilation, being that so far it’s only available on the Japanese version of Chaosphere.
Keeping the evil tradition, the cover artwork is once again from the unholy Necrolord Kristian Wahlin, who did Volumes 3 and 4. The booklet has the familiar layout, with a picture of each band and a short description. This compilation is well worth your money if you're looking for new music. In fact go back and buy all the old ones too and discover (rediscover?) stuff you missed out on! I think with Volume 6 Nuclear Blast should take it to the next level. Of course have the double CD, but have more actual unreleased material. Plus, they should go back to the box set packaging, with a video and whatever else you can fit into the box. With artwork this cool, a nice large box would look killer on the shelf next to Volumes 2 and 3! Plus, the information in the booklet could be expanded, including detailed discographies, more detailed band histories, and band member lists.