With the bands’ first album, the Metal Blade released ‘Into Eternity’ from 1993, Desultory firmly cemented their (then) original take on Swedish Death Metal into the collective brains of every Death Metal fan. They successfully managed to incorporate a decent amount of melody and on top of that, they had a far more Thrash Metal sound to them than your average Swedish Death Metal at the time. With the Dark Angel-like thrashing speed and that trademark melodic touch the band stood for something new and helped kickstart the sound that would later be perfected by bands like At The Gated, Defleshed and The Crown. Some took the more thrashy path, others went for the more melodic fashion and some even combined both of them. Whatever way you choose to look at it, one thing is for certain, Desultory stood for something different.
But the bands’ musical journey didn’t end there. Like many of their contemporaries from both the Swedish and Finnish Death Metal scenes from the mid 90’s, Desultory started to widen their scope, musically. Tiamat went into dreamlike, doomy gothic territories, Therion started flirting with Gothic and Darkwave, Disgrace and Xysma from Finland went on to pursue a more Stoner-oriented career and fellow Finns Sentenced started to build their own unique blend of Heavy Metal with a pitch black atmosphere. A movement, when zooming out, was going on in the entire metal scene at those mid 90’s, Moonspell and Rotting Christ left their Black Metal roots, many American Thrash Metal bands like Exodus, Sacred Reich and Slayer jumped on the Pantera/Machine Head-driven groove-hype and a bands The Gathering paved the way for a whole new Symphonic and Gothic Metal movement. Besides, the Grunge influences were felt in many records of the time, even including the solo work of Bruce Dickenson and Korn’s highly influential first albums were released around those same years. Yes, those mid 90’s certainly turned out to be one of the genres peaks in creativity.
Desultory has always proven to choose their own path, so in this musically volatile, creative and adventurous climate, that was no different. While not completely dropping their thrashy and melodic side, the band (again) opted for a different sound and approach to the Death Metal genre. Pretty much taking the same turn as Entombed did on their ground breaking 1993 ‘Wolverine Blues’-album, Desultory also went for a more ‘Death ‘n’ Roll’-sound. A movement that was given life by the visionary work of Nihilist/Entombed drummer Nicke Andersson, who, at the time, was intrigued and highly influenced by sleazy Rock ‘n’ Roll. Though giving Entombed a major musical turn around, Andersson wanted more and in 1994 he founded the highly successful Garage Rock/Rock ‘n’ Roll band The Hellacopters, with which (together with fellow Swedish Gluecifer) he initiated a completely different musical movement. Andersson even joined the legendary USA proto-Punk band MC5 on stage (kick out the jams, motherfuckers!), underlining his penchant for all things sleazy.
Meanwhile, Desultory, took the transition a little more quietly. Still having their trademark melodicism and their Thrashy slant in most of the songs on ‘Bitterness’. Listen to ‘Left Behind’, for instance, which still has that up-beat Thrashy vibe going on and the melodic elements are basically present in all of the album’s songs. While Entombed leaned more on their groove-laden riffs, Desultory kept a certain amount of its original sound alive, which gives ‘Bitterness’ its tasteful and original touch. Pretty much like their earlier recordings, this album also remained largely overlooked and underappreciated, but it withstood the test of time remarkably well. Even in 2022 the album sounds fresh and its blend of both the mellower riffs, catchy melodies and the dynamics that are found in the flashier fast sections might even fall into better ground today.
Desultory was pioneering with their first recordings, including their ‘Into Eternity’-debut album, and continued to do so with ‘Bitterness’, yet on a significantly different musical territory. The band pushed the boundaries even further on 1996’s ‘Swallowing The Snake’, which pursued an even more corporate rock kind of sound and got people on their heels. Or, even more frankly put, it pretty much just garnered hate. But, none of that on ‘Bitterness’, which is a downright criminally overlooked Swedish Death Metal album with just that funny little tickling bite to it.