St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
BAPHOMET (US) — The Dead Shall Inherit
Peaceville Records (1992)
Remember that big brother of yours whose collection of METALLICA, IRON MAIDEN and AC/DC tapes helped you appreciate distorted guitars? Remember his buddy with the lazy eye? The one with the jean jacket that smelled like mildew who always seemed to be in his Buick LeSabre in the high school parking lot with the windows rolled up? Let’s call him Jimmy. The Dead Shall Inherit, next to CANNIBAL CORPSE’s Tomb of the Mutilated, was easily Jimmy’s favorite underground metal album, and to this day it has shaped his meager identity.
I say “underground metal” because Jimmy was only vaguely aware of the term “death metal.” He found a tape version while browsing the headshop at the same strip mall where they had that filthy (but killer) Chinese buffet. The cover looked convincing enough — some kind of distorted zombies resurrected by an obnoxiously bright full moon, like Evil Dead or some shit? — but the owner threatered to kick him out for thumbing through the skin mags with his back to the counter. Jimmy hastened up four damp bills for the used BAPHOMET tape to keep the guy on his side. Something for the ride home since his fucking Headhunter tape completely unravelled during the drive there.
Back in the Buick, Jimmy took a minute to admire the J-card in between long puffs on a Merit. Pock-marked, cherub-cheeked faces stared back at him, dusted with halfway mustaches and topped by hair awkward enough to rival even his grease-swept mullet. How the hell was it possible these guys were uglier than he was? Haw haw! What shirts were these guys wearing? He could make out “OBITUARY” on one of them, but that was it. Huh. For four dollars this shit better be good…
The tape dropped and clicked into the factory-stock player part way through the opening song “The Suffering.” Jimmy pushed the window down to clear the smoke, as in literally pushed it because the cocksucker hadn’t worked since he drove his front end through the ice last November when he and that older brother of yours were driving around high and your brother called him a coward for refusing to do it. Jimmy was obviously right to be cautious, but admittedly he did feel like a bit of a coward sometimes, and a misfit often, and he occasionally thought your brother just kept him around for weed and cheap laughs and…
Holy shit! Jimmy’s pitiful self-doubt was quickly out-gunned by a martial rain of snare drum blasts. Out of nowhere! The music had started a lot slower, played at a kind of hunch-shouldered lurch, with those caveman-simple riffs Jimmy and his C- high school average could appreciate. The vocals, however, were NOT what Jimmy was used to. He wasn’t sure if he liked them, either, until he began noticing the sneers and occasional looks of real horror from the occupants of neighboring cars at stoplights. With the windows totally open, the unholy noise emanating from the car interior finally rivaled the sounds of the LeSabre’s misfiring engine and rusted muffler. Finally, a maladjusted source of pride — some reason for them to sneer other than at his failing car or his misshappen features.
It got better. The guitars got a little busier for the fast parts. And it wasn’t as completely brick-stupid as it seemed at first. Little by little there were surprises and twists. Very tense, high-strung riffs that nonetheless never failed to bludgeon, pummel and…and…Jimmy’s C- vocabulary had to stop there…and all the while, always with those sick fucking vocals that he started to like more and more. If he knew who SUFFOCATION was, he would’ve understood the cross-state influence between the nascent New York City scene of SUFFOCATION and MORPHEUS DESCENDS and that of their upstate counterparts in CANNIBAL COPRSE, BAPHOMET and MALEVOLENT CREATION, but he didn’t.
And so it was. BAPHOMET was a simple-minded SUFFOCATION for the Jimmies of this world before the idea of a SUFFOCATION clone even existed. Flash forward over 20 years and Peaceville has finally reissued this piece of micro-death metal history on CD. One wonders what took so long; a thriving label with a well-established line-up, coupled with resurgent interest in old death metal, should have made this a guaranteed seller years ago.
My guess is that Jimmy, and Jimmies like him the world over, have inadvertently kept this one to themselves. It gave them a taste of something they have never, to this day, achieved on their own, by four guys who didn’t seem to be so different from themselves at all. But without the death metal knowledge to even describe to others what they had heard, or why it made them feel the way they did, these tapes and CDs stayed tucked safely away in the Jimmies’ LeSabres, Nissan quarter-tons and Cultass Supremes, far from the ears of those metalheads who might appreciate what BAPHOMET was able to put together for this particular moment in death metal’s history.
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