Desecrator
Subconscious Release (Reissue)

Despite the recent run of excellent album reissues both needed and unnecessary, there has been a large hole in my metal collection and in my heart. As much as I’ve loved and needed reissues of the likes of God Macabre, Burial, Gorement, Uncanny, Convulse and such, there’s been one release missing; Desecrator‘s sole, 1991 album, Subconscious Release. But many thanks to the UK’s Boss Tunage (and their new more metal imprint Mosh Tunage) usually known for their punk releases, the album gets some well deserved exposure more than 20 years later.

Now don’t get me wrong, Subconscious Release was never revered as a classic or legendary album, but that doesn’t seem to be the standard for reissues. But it was a very solid British death metal album that came out in the heyday of British  metal, when the metal landscape was dominated by the likes of Benediction, Cancer, Bolt Thrower (who, you have to remember, were all still relatively young in their careers at this point) Napalm Death (for an album) and to some extent the doom trio of My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost. Subconscious Release was originally released on LP only with a distribution of only about 500 copies. I was lucky enough to own one. It featured early Dan Seagrave artwork and quite simply became impossible to come by — until now. And of course, I sold my LP many years ago.

And while rarity isn’t the only reason for a reissue, Subconscious Release is a nice little piece of British death metal nostalgia — a rarity in itself. The band was formed by brothers Steve and Mike Ford and featured guitarist Steve Watson, who at tone time or another served in Brit legends Cerebral Fix and Iron Monkey. There still was a very primitive style of death metal that had tangible roots to Spiritual Healing and Leprosy-era Death (just listen to “Repressive Acceptance”) as well as country mates Benediction, with whom they shared the same rough percussive sound and production (Subconscious Release came out in between Subconscious Terror and The Grand Leveler).

But, Desecrator were also a bit different as their songs were typically a bit longer with four of the album’s songs coming close to 8 minutes, and lyrically they had more in common with Chuck Schuldiner’s more challenging intellectual and social/political themes as opposed to the usual themes of death, zombies and destruction that were rampant in death metal’s formative years. If you could get past the earthy, rough analog production (which I actually loved then — and still do) and simple (though completely natural and untriggered) drumming there was a really good band lurking here. It’s just that no one but 500 or so people heard them back in 1991. And I imagine, in 1991, due the birth of CDs and the price of shipping an LP, few folks outside the UK heard them. Now of course, with the internet nowadays, I’m sure most ardent death metal collectors have come across this release in grainy mp3 format, as I did, but to have the actual album in had almost brought a tear to my eye.

Listening to the album’s memorable opening growl of the title track (Mike Ford had a great, deep gravelly but decipherable voice), or the rough and tumble groove and laughter of “Killing Joke” and the moody, atmospheric closure (and personal favourite) “The Suffering”, took me back to my days as a lad in the UK. Those tracks remained stuck in my memory for twenty years, and as I heard them again all these years later, I recalled them immediately and they hold up very well indeed. The music and playing is better than Benediction‘s debut and less totally ripped off  Death worship than Cancer‘s Death Shall Rise, released the same year. So if those two releases are your benchmark for UK death metal in 1990-1991, you need to get this CD and see how good—yet completely unheralded—strong>Desecrator‘s only album was/is. I imagine if RKT Records had not dropped the ball back then, we’d be talking about Subconscious Release in the same breath as those two releases and maybe Napalm Death‘s Harmony Corruption. But I’ll admit, as big as a soft spot I have for this album, having only one release hurts the band’s legacy.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of extras as the CD inlay and booklet are pretty sparse and the artwork and sound is the same. However, the band did provide four unreleased demo tracks from 1992 that have a fuller, cleaner production and a tighter sound; like the band were on their way to being something special with the likes of “Exit Through the Weakness” and “Breathe Change” tease.

I am now complete. Thank You Boss Tunage.

(Ok, maybe there is a tiny void that could be filled by a reissue of Burnt Offering‘s self titled debut…)

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
August 6th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: Austin Fisher

    I could listen to this album over and over and over, such legendary composition on this record, full of inspiration to me, a fellow guitarist. I just wish i could get my hands on some lyrics, that’s all I’m missing. And i must mention… The guitar work at 5:00 in “The Suffering” leaves me speechless every time.


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