Friday, April 3, 2009

Mefisto - Megalomania (1986)

Mefisto was an underground Black/Speed Metal band from Stockholm, Sweden that released only a couple of demos in the mid-1980s. The first of these two demos, Megalomania, displays a band that was already somewhat ahead of many of their peers. Mefisto had a very unique style that easily set them apart from other Swedish bands such as Bathory and Morbid.

The intro to "Missing in Action" is somewhat terrifying to hear, with the sobbing and shrieking. The acoustic guitar is reminiscent of similar passages found on Sepultura's Schizophrenia, though this was released in May 1986 and predates that album. In a short time, the song erupts with a hellish sound and goes straight for the throat. Sandro's vocals are pure demonic evil and suit this chaotic frenzy very well. This sound embodies all the darkness found in the Brazilian Black/Death scene but with a sense of melody derived from NWOBHM bands such as Satan. There are some riffs that even remind one of early Metallica. The musicianship displayed by Mefisto is actually a bit unexpected from this style, yet they really have something unique going on here.

"Frost of Inferno" has the unenviable task of following this brilliant song. It begins much the same, with a somber acoustic melody being accompanied by a distant and dismal lead solo. The image that comes to mind is of a forgotten battlefield, littered with bodies now frozen to the earth and covered in snow. The song slowly builds up, with Speed and Thrash riffs coming together to create an epic atmosphere. The sound is very harsh, with a lot of variety being shown in the vocal department. Some of these screams are truly not of this world. This is darker than Sodom or Kreator, more violent than Venom and it completely kills Hellhammer and old Mayhem in musicianship and songwriting.

The next song is "Betrayed Truth" and it has that NWOBHM feeling right from the beginning. This song rages at full speed throughout the first couple minutes before slowing down for a more melodic break in the middle. One has to hear this brilliance to truly appreciate it. The solo works very well with this, much like the hissing sounds added by Sandro.

This demo concludes with the very explosive song, "Act Dead". This is the shortest and most straight-forward of the songs, yet there is still plenty of variation in riffs and tempo. The intensity level is similar to Possessed, in a sense, and the song ends with another chaotic solo, much like a Slayer album.

Megalomania is a very strong release from a band that seemed destined for great things. It is a real shame that they only went on to put out one more demo before vanishing forever. This four-song demo is vastly superior to many full-length albums that were being released at this time.