Festerday decomposing one stage too far

FESTERDAY: The Four Stages Of Decomposition

Release year: 2015
Label: Svart Records

Whilst a choice few Finnish death metal groups from the blooming scene of the early 90’s went on to achieve cult status and a dedicated underground following, there were many more who were destined to linger in even greater obscurity or even languish all but forgotten in the demo tape collections of hardcore collectors, garnering only the occasional mention here and there.

Festerday were one of these, and for a pretty obvious reason, too: they never released an album. During their initial run, which lasted from 1989 to 1992, they released three demos and a split tape with fellow Finns Carnifex. No wonder they aren’t mentioned along with the likes of Funebre or Purtenance. However, with the renewed interest in old (Finnish) death metal during the last few years, the time was ripe to open up old graves.

The Four Stages Of Decomposition is not just a re-release of old material. Festerday, whose members went on to form bands such as …And Oceans decided to join Abhorrence and a slew of other contemporaries in reuniting and recording new material. This two CD set (three on vinyl) is a compendium of their original recordings from the early 90’s, and re-written, re-recorded songs from 2014.

Starting with their original recordings, which are to be found on disc two, the three demos show constant progression and on the third demo, Festerday already start to sound like a band ripe for a full-length album – even the sound quality is very good. Taking their name from a Carcass song, it’s not very surprising to find nods towards the UK legends here more than local colleagues; not much of the doomy and gloomy melodies of other Finnish bands here.

So far so good; however, rounding up the second disc, there is a completely redundant rehearsal tape from 1990 and an even more redundant live recording from 1991, both with quite shoddy sound. Historical curios, sure, but unlike the demos, they don’t bear much listening.

On to the first disc, with material from 2014 recorded by the original line-up. I’m happy to say things are good. The new tracks, apparently cannibalized from their old material, sound like logical continuations to the third demo. There’s a bit of that Finnish dark melodicism in some of the guitar leads, but by and large Festerday stick to the Carcass-inspired, occasionally grinding, heavy death metal of their original run. The sound is crisp and heavy, the riffs are sharp and vocalist Kena sounds like he means it. Yes sir, things are good.

Two thirds of this compilation is bang for the buck. The new recordings on the first disc are pure classic death metal in the finest tradition, proving these guys can still deliver. The three demos are also definitely worth re-releasing, partially as historical artifacts but also because there’s plenty of quality stuff there. But the rehearsal and the live stuff… one stage of decomposition too far. Sometimes less truly is more, and this would have been one of those cases.

Still, definitely a recommended acquisition for anyone into the classic era of Finnish death metal.

3.5/5

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