Pictured: Criminal Tendencies zine #3, 1991
Review by Anthony Abboreno

I wish I could have been this cool in high school. Probably as a direct response to the success of Daniel Ekeroth’s Swedish Death Metal (reviewed here), where Nirvana 2002 is praised as one of the greatest Swedish Death bands that never recorded an album, Relapse has reissued all of the band’s listenable output onto a CD.

Physical Excursion/Truth and Beauty (rehearsal)

It is indeed excellent. The song “Mourning” and the stuff from the Disembodied Spirits demo, in particular, are good enough to lock horns with anything on Left Hand Path or Like an Ever Flowing Stream. I have a preference for the more lo-fi tracks — not out of snobbery, but because they capture a different sort of loathing, with reverb like storm clouds and vocals that are rotted out and down-pitched to the point of unintelligibility. I love this!

But the opportunity to visit another person’s adolescence is really the main appeal of this, regardless of whether you were part of the scene back then, or even knew Nirvana 2002 existed until recently. (I wasn’t and didn’t.) The liner notes — a surprising rarity in metal releases, given the obsessiveness of fans — help take care of this. Tomas Lindberg contributes, and Nirvana 2002’s singer, Orvar Säfström, provides a detailed history of the band, when songs were recorded and how. Band pictures are provided: fresh-faced kids in studios, pulling horror grimaces, lurking in swamps.

Säfström describes Nirvana 2002’s reunion show as being “like a high-school reunion only with all the ass-holes replaced by 200 of the best friends you ever had.” Indeed, listening to this album is like reliving the best parts of high-school with none of the shitty parts: taping music off the radio, hanging out in the wreckage of basements and bedrooms, the allure of cemeteries, gore flicks on VHS, yellowed pocketbooks of Edgar Allan Poe. All that stuff still makes sense to me. People pretend to grow out of it, but you carry those years for the rest of your life — hence the creeping terror of real high-school reunions, and much of the power of this music. No story of teenage heartbreak will ever move me like a song called “Zombiefication.” It’s all there.