Decibel Presents The Top 5 Demo Tapes of 1995

The following piece was originally scheduled to run in our new Decibel Yearbook: 1995 issue, but was cut for space as we went to print. Enjoy this Decibel “bonus track” and order the 1995 issue here for more on one of the most important years in extreme metal history! 

Numerous bands that are crushing today dropped their demo 25 years ago—acts like Deeds of Flesh, Malign (SWE), Maudlin of the Well. There was even a Necrophagist demo in ’95. But what about all those bands that banged out a killer demo tape only to fade into obscurity without ever getting their moment? Here’s a peek at what the metal tape-trading underground looked like in 1995.

Gilgamesh, Demo 1 ’95
Gilgamesh were Mexico City’s answer to Derkéta and Mythic. Not only does the (since reformed) trio consist of all women, but on their rawer-than-piss demo tape—especially on last track “Ruptura”—Gilgamesh crush ‘n’ roll with a similar kind of locked-in, desensitized punishment that makes other bands sound like they’re trying too hard.

Burning Inside, ’95 Demo
Right before Richard Christy joined Death, he drummed for Burning Inside, who dared tread the molten path toward death metal fame from Springfield, MO to Orlando, FL. They eventually released a couple albums, but nothing like this 16-minute scorcher of Morbid Angel worshipping tech-death chaos they recorded when they were young and ambitious.

Wanderer, Surrounded by These Firs
An unholy grail for collectors of obscure black metal demos, Surrounded by These Firs is the only tape from this Finnish one-man band. Not unlike a Rauta project (Circle of Ouroborus, Starcave), Wanderer played a kind of harsh-but-melodic, synth-accompanied black metal. As hard to describe as it is to find, Surrounded by These Firs shines through time as a highlight for Finnish black metal.

Black Mass of Absu, Demo 1995
Black Mass of Absu were/are a mysterious black/doom/industrial operation based in New York, and their demo may be one of the heaviest recordings you’ll ever hear. This demo sounds like Beherit, with organ in tow, broke into the studio where Khanate recorded their self-titled album and wreaked Satanic havok. An anachronistic comparison, but otherwise there’s simply no explanation for how much this crushes.

Cabaret for Bereaved, Demo 1995
Nearly an hour long, this demo from Cabaret for Bereaved counts 10 tracks of punch-drunk, ill-made black metal that’s heavier on charm than cringe thanks to an abundance of eerie atmospherics and the irrepressible creativity of the sole Finn behind the music. Somewhere between Carved Cross and Golden Dawn, it hurts, but it’s easy to hear why this is a kvlt classic.