Sweden spawned many great death metal acts in the late 80's and early 90's, including classics like Entombed, Edge of Sanity, Dismember, Grave, and In Flames (to name but a few). Of course, in any movement of such significance, a few great bands may have gone unnoticed and were eventually forgotten over the sands of time. This is the case with Uncanny, a five-piece death metal group from Avesta formed in 1990. Before splitting up less than half a decade later, the band managed to release two demos, a split album with Ancient Rites, and a full-length album. Their full-length album (Splenium For Nyktophobia) is difficult to find and quite expensive, and I'd imagine that the band's other releases are near-impossible to track down nowadays. Fans of old school Swedish death metal would've had to shell out quite a few bucks to investigate these releases, and the limited-run triple-LP release of MCMXCI - MCMXCIV by The Crypt in 2010 may not have helped the economically-minded collector very much either. But thanks to the folks at Dark Descent Records, the band's entire catalog has now been re-released as a 2-CD compilation. This 90-minute set shows old school Swedish death metal at its very best from a band who never quite got the attention they deserved. All fans of that "Swedish death metal sound" should definitely look into MCMXCI - MCMXCIV.
Uncanny's sound is unmistakably from the early 90's Swedish death metal - the fat riffs, semi-melodic tendencies, and occasional keyboards are what set Sweden apart from other scenes right from the get-go, and Uncanny fully embraced this style. Uncanny sounds a lot like Entombed during their Left Hand Path era, which is of course a compliment coming from me. The band's 1994 full-length album, Splenium For Nyktophobia is the highlight of this compilation, seeing that it contains the most professional production, polished musicianship, and strongest compositions. The rest of MCMXCI - MCMXCIV is more hit-and-miss for me, considering it's all demo-quality material. For hardcore Uncanny fans this will undoubtedly be a fun listen, but as a more casual listener, the weak production and "iffy" musicianship can interfere with my enjoyment a bit. Putting a microscope on the quality of the demo tracks is somewhat missing the point of MCMXCI - MCMXCIV, though. The intention of this release was to finally release this forgotten band's material to the public through a high-quality package - and that's exactly what's been done here.
Even though the demo tracks don't hold too much interest for me, MCMXCI - MCMXCIV stands as a terrific document for one of the most criminally underrated Swedish death metal bands. Uncanny's main triumph, Splenium For Nyktophobia, stands as an essential release on its own merit, so with all of this extra material as well, MCMXCI - MCMXCIV seems like the definitive way to dive into Uncanny's music. Anyone who wants to check out one of Sweden's lesser-known old school death metal bands should definitely look into getting this compilation. My rating will be 3.5 - 4 stars and a warm recommendation to fans of Entombed, Dismember, and Grave.