Released: 2004, Spikefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
It would be somewhat of an exaggeration to say Finland’s grinding Death´n´Roll hippie rockers Xysma’s impact on the Finnish Metal scene over the years has been bigger and more remarkable than other Finnish Metal bands. On the other hand, it would be kind of underrating and totally wrong to say they have done nothing as far as being an influence.
Finally Xysma’s past works have rightfully got a treatment they deserve. In fact, it’s easy to state loud and clearly Xysma’s early releases deserved to be re-released. Sami Tenetz from Spikefarm Records was the one who finally managed to “see rotten bowels of the corpse” and did something that should have already been done for many years ago. Namely he looked back in time, understood the importance and true meaning of Xysma’s past releases and ended up collecting them all together for this double-CD release. Not you only do you get the band’s rare, first two albums YEAH (originally on a small Finnish indie label Comeback Records in 1991) and FIRST & MAGICAL (released on ComeBack in 1993), but also Xysmaìs SWARMING OF THE MAGGOTS demo (ì89), the ABOVE THE MIND OF MORBIDITY mini-LP (first release on ComeBack Records in 1990) and the FATA MORGANA 7” E.P. (Seraphic Decay, 1991). Now all these Xysma rarities can be found in the very same package and I think it might be in order to say this is a very essential purchase for everyone who has been trying to hunt down the band’s past releases for all these years or who has simply been curious about their mish-mash act of different musical styles from Grindcore to Death Metal to groovily rocking musical perversities.
For me personally, Xysma’s debut album YEAH was the one that I have always considered as their best work. A mix of very Grindcore-ish, fast-as-bullet-train bits, Death Metal and easily adopted Rock elements all wrapped up with some damn great, very catchy and well thought out melody parts. It was, in so many ways, a very extraordinary release for it’s time, differing from the mass of Death Metal and something that seemed to be ahead of it’s time. The term “Death Rock” was strongly connected to this particular album when people in general talked about Xysma in order to describe the band.
Two years later Xysma’s second album, titled FIRST & MAGICAL, was (unfortunately) unleashed through the same small Finnish label ComeBack Records that also released their splendid debut record. With a zero budget promotion done for the album, FIRST & MAGICAL reached even more audience due to it’s lighter, more Rock orientated musical approach compared to it’s predecessor. The only thing that was left from the band’s Grindcore/Death Metal past was Janitor’s deep vocal grunts that he still sowed around the songs on that album, but otherwise it was rightful to say that Xysma had expanded their sound to something that belonged to them and was more of their property than any other band that existed back in those days. The only tiny shortcoming on FIRST & MAGICAL in my opinion was the length of the album, it barely passed the magical 30-minute mark.
As for the second disc and the early period of Xysma, I think it’s fair to say SWARMING OF THE MAGGOTS started it all for Xysma. Averaging 1-minute rotting flesh outbursts on that demo with such lovely adored song titles as “Pulsating Cerebral Slime”, “Pulverized Necrobrains” and “Unanaesthetic Genitoplasty” shouldn’t leave any question marks hanging above anyone’s head who were the biggest influence on Xysma when the band started in 1988. I remember Jeff Walker saying in some magazine many years ago: “In fact, they funnily sound more Carcass than we do”. Xysma’s maggot-infested, corpse-licking Grindcore was simply irresistible back in the day.
On the band’s next two releases, ABOVE THE MIND OF MORBIDITY mini-LP and FATA MORGANA 7” E.P., Xysma was a more technical, grinding Death Metal band than before, thanks to the addition of the second guitarist Olli, I suppose. The production on those two releases was honestly pretty damn awful indeed: thin, not heavy enough and raw. Xysma were unquestionably the true pioneers in creating some sort of a boom for this groovily grinding death ‘n roll style here in Finland that later brought along such similar sounding acts from Finland as Disgrace, Pakeni, Lubricant, Convulse and a few others.
In order to understand a bit why Xysma succeeded in being like a welcomed, sticky gum in everyone’s hair and an influential band, this release should work out a perfect guide. In my opinion, this collection represents the best fuckin’ era for these Finnish genital grinders. One thing is certain: Xysma didn’t suck in their early days, so let it be cherished by us now and forever.