The humble demo tape and heavy metal went hand in hand from the early '80s to the late '90s. Predominantly used to shop around to record labels, bands also circulated rehearsal and live tapes among their fanbases. Showcasing newer tracks being worked out, skeletons of newer songs coming together or introducing new band members to the fold. Metallica's No Life Til Leather is arguably the most famous metal demo, but Voivod's To The Death! is also up there in terms of impressing record companies. Death had well over 10 live/rehearsal tapes out before signing to a label, Thorns' instrumental guitar and bass only 'Grymyrk' demo blew minds and shaped the sound and style of a lot of the second wave of black metal. Mr Bungle's 5 demos showed a band expanding from death metal into the weirdo monster they became (and also how damn talented they were as musicians).
Legend has it that Chicago thrashers Sindrome's 1987 demo Into The Halls Of Extermination sold well over ten thousand copies when it was released (and bootlegged/dubbed numerous times as well). Backed by a frenetic live show, the bands mix of Slayer via Exodus went down a treat.
The band's demos have been available as a free download from their website for a while, but were a dodgy tape rip. Century Media has cleaned up and combined the bands two demos in a whole package for those who missed it to enjoy.
Troy Dixler's vocal stylings are unique if nothing else, his half spoken/half yelled roar delivery is almost comical. A sing-songy almost nursery rhyme delivery is like nothing I can compare to, maybe Megadeth's 'Sweating Bullets' comes close. It's as if his performance needed some more reverb or echo (to be fair this does occur on 'Cathedrals Of Ice'). The rest of the band are on fire, thrashing like maniacs.
A few lineup changes occurred before the recording of 1991's Vault Of Inner Conscience and whilst still good, is perhaps a few steps behind the frantic pace of the first demo. The solos are given a bit more room to shine overall, it is still pretty good.
The bonus live cd is a warts and all bootleg, best left to the side. Apart from containing two unrecorded tracks it quite literally sounds like when you go to the toilet at a gig and hear the noise coming from outside the door. The highlight being when you CLEARLY hear the bloke holding the tape player say "Hey man, can you hold this I gotta take a piss". The sound remarkably clears up for a while (almost as if the genius recording it had his thumb over the mic) but it's very much a raw bootleg. The cd booklet has lots of cool pics and articles to check over.
Sindrome split in 1993, never achieving the goal of a decent record deal. Who knows what would have happened if the continued on, the '90s were not the kindest to thrash metal. Maybe they would have been pressured to add in more 'alternative' and radio friendly elements to their sound, perhaps they would have tried to add funk elements (thank you Mordred). This collection is a great look back at what could have been.
Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia