Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, we jump off a cliff into a sea of boiling water with Lemming Project’s Hate and Despise (1992).
1992 was a pretty solid year for extreme metal – At the Gates’ The Red in the Sky Is Ours, Deicide’s Legion, Cannibal Corpse’s Tomb of the Mutilated, and, of course, Extreme’s III Sides to Every Story. All eyes were focused on Sweden and Florida, and almost nobody was paying attention to what was going on in Dortmund, Germany. And that’s pretty understandable – even though the city is about the same size as Gothenburg, it lacked the vibrant metal scene and brutal winters that made said scene possible. Still, sometimes crops can grow in infertile soil. All it takes is some liquid nourishment – beer and blood.
Lemming Project, as you can tell from the name, were sort of weird. Although they were undeniably death metal, no modifiers required, they certainly flaunted their idiosyncrasies. For example, their release immediately prior to this record was a split EP with folk metal jokers Skyclad. Songs like “Leadership” and “Judas Billygoats” were split into two sections (“open” and “use” for the former, “inside” and “outside” for the latter). There’s that bizarre, Lovecraftian cover art. And then there’s their sound, which couldn’t be fit easily into either the Swedish or Floridian style. They grooved like Entombed, changed lanes like Death, and featured erudite lyrics like Morbid Angel.
Then, of course, there’s the effect that their charnel house rock has when you actually listen to it. That album title is pretty indicative of their sonic approach: an unholy manifesto of pure misanthropy. Not just lyrically, either. Their scorched-earth approach rivals notable nihilists like Craft for sheer spite. The aforementioned “Leadership” indicates they believe in nothing of the kind, predicting seasons in the abyss for those with the hubris to assume command. “Lost” earns its name with a twisting riff that never seems sure where it’s going. “Manipulation” convinces you that it’s going to be a Teutonic thrasher, before it hits the brakes. And “Washed” has a gang shout chorus, but denies anticipation of catchiness.
Alas, this was to be their final release (guess they should have called this one Extinction instead of their debut). They broke up soon after its release, and they’ve even been denied the possibility of a late-career reunion and reappraisal due to guitarist/songwriter Michael Schmale’s tragic demise a decade later. Still, those who appreciate old school death metal the way it should be done (and it seems unlikely that any of those folk would be reading this article) will find this a treasure that, while an ugly one, shines in its own evil way.