One of the most original bands that helped shape the ‘famous’ Dutch Death/Doom Metal scene was certainly Phlebotomized. With their 1992 ‘Devoted To God’-demo tape and the ‘In Search Of Tranquillity’ 7” EP of the same year (released by German cult label Malodorous Mangled Innards Records) they firmly cemented their name into Dutch metal history. Together with bands like Celestial Season and The Gathering they formed the start of a fruitful scene, all of these bands earlier works contained a similar and distinctive mournful atmosphere.
Phlebotomized’s first demo tape, ‘Devoted To God’, remains one of the finest Dutch metal demos to date. In fact, it has all the right things going on, but the most appealing thing about the demo, apart from the fantastic authentic sound, is that it is clearly a band driven by youthful enthusiasm playing uninhibited music. Basically, it is a mishmash of different styles and influences, but the band manages to take it all in stride and fuse it into a more than entrancing piece of adventurous music. Death Metal serves as a solid foundation and is rigged with progressive elements and slower darker pieces, employing keyboards and female vocals. Listening to these tracks once more, it becomes all the more clear how original and ground breaking the band used to be. And despite the fact that I quite liked the band’s last EP (‘Pain, Resistance, Suffering’, 2021, Hammerheart Records), it cannot match this early material in light years. Not only musically and production-wise, but also vocally, this is far superior to Phlebotomized anno now.
Anno 2022 it might sound a little dated to contemporary standards, but exactly that is its irresistible charm. That muffled and dense sound that most of the demo tapes of that time had breathes something that continues to attract me. It is of no surprise that back in the day the first songs of ‘Devoted To God’ got a second life on a 7” EP, which allegedly sold 3.000 copies, which you can add to the 1.000 original demo tape copies that the band has distributed themselves and another 2.000 copies issued by the Polish Carnage Records. Selling a total of 6.000 copies, of course it is impossible to count all the dubbed copies that were tape traded, is incredible even by today’s standards. It says something about the impact the demo had and simply about its quality.
Now, 30 years later (!) the demo gets another release. Hammerheart Records is making it available again on both cassette tape and CD and now for the first time in its entirety on 12″ vinyl. In case you do not own an original copy of the demo tape or like to replace it by a CD or vinyl copy, this is an excellent opportunity to own this piece of Dutch Doom/Death Metal history.