Via Relapse Records comes this compilation of early recordings from Wisconsin death metal act Morta Skuld. Despite the fact that the band released several full-lengths throughout the 90's, I had never actually heard their material prior to this, I was only familiar with their name. This CD collects their two 1990 demos, "Gory Departure" and "Prolong the Agony", on one disc. Also included are two non-demo tracks, "Eternal Suffering" and a cover of Metal Church's "Metal Church", but I can't seem to figure out any details surrounding those recordings (Perhaps they're from the same sessions but weren't included on the actual demos back in the day?). Most such early demo collections are dominated by tracks that were later re-recorded on proper albums, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. From what I can tell, only one of these 11 songs ever appeared elsewhere in the band's discography (on a rare split 7" with Vital Remains), which makes this outing even cooler in my book.
This is some great old school death metal dominated by moderate speeds; burly vocal snarls with light effects (delay, etc.); and lots of chunky, midpaced riffing (which actually lends a "doomy" vibe to a few cuts, especially when utilized alongside simplistic lead melodies). They obviously weren't concerned with being the fastest, most brutal band on the planet, so these demos present a straightforward, "meat and potatoes" style that's neither one-sided nor lacking in atmosphere. I'm really quite surprised by how good the material sounds, too. I mean, we're talking about 21-year-old death metal demo cassettes, you know? Even when this kind of stuff gets remastered onto CD years after the fact it often still sounds like complete shit, but this thing sounds very good considering. You can discern a slight tinge of aged ruggedness, but it's clear, still has strong density, and holds up excellently well. If one of today's "retro" death metal bands released an album that sound just like this, I'd have no complaints. It should come as no surprise that I'm a huge, huge fan of reissues like this, and "Through the Eyes of Death" is a very solid collection that has me interested in starting to check out Morta Skuld's proper albums now. If you're into that classic, early death metal sound you should absolutely give this disc a shot. Awesome.