Inhale/Exhale: The Album that Breathed Life into Grindcore

From its inception to its tragic end, Nasum left an indelible imprint on the grindcore scene. Their debut album, 'Inhale/Exhale', stands as a critical early statement from the band, kick-starting a powerhouse career of worldwide grind dominance.

Nasum - Inhale/Exhale (1998) Full Album HQ (Grindcore)

Nasum and Their Debut Album “Inhale/Exhale”

In the realm of grindcore, few bands have left as indelible a mark as Nasum, a powerhouse quartet hailing from Örebro, Sweden. Formed in 1992, Nasum quickly established a reputation for their intense, relentless sound, a reputation that would only grow with the release of their debut full-length album, “Inhale/Exhale”.

The band, composed of Anders Jakobson on drums, Mieszko Talarczyk on guitar and vocals, Urban Skytt on guitar, and Jon Lindqvist on bass, chose the name Nasum, Latin for “nose”, for its unique and distinctive sound. This choice would prove prophetic, as Nasum would go on to become a unique and distinctive force in the world of grindcore.

Their journey, however, was tragically cut short in 2004 with the untimely death of Mieszko Talarczyk in the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Despite this, the legacy of Nasum and their groundbreaking debut album “Inhale/Exhale” continues to resonate within the grindcore genre.

Nasum, a unique and distinctive force in the world of grindcore, left a lasting impact with their groundbreaking debut album “Inhale/Exhale”.

“Inhale/Exhale”, released in 1998, is considered a classic in the grindcore genre. It marked the beginning of Nasum’s influential journey, a journey that, despite its premature end, left a lasting impact on the world of metal music.

From Formation to “Inhale/Exhale”

Nasum, initially a side project of the death metal band Necrony, was formed by Anders Jakobson and Rickard Alriksson. The duo, with Jakobson on guitars and Alriksson on drums and vocals, began their journey with a sound inspired by grindcore. However, their early compositions were longer and more complex than traditional grindcore tracks, setting them apart from the onset.

Before their first recording, a split 7″ EP with Agathocles, Mieszko Talarczyk joined the band, adding a new dimension to their sound. The songs on this EP were diverse, unlike anything else in the grindcore scene at the time.

As Nasum’s sound evolved, they began crafting shorter, more efficient songs with a hardcore touch. The guitars were tuned down for a heavier sound, bringing them closer to the distinctive sound they would achieve on “Inhale/Exhale”.

A significant turning point came with the departure of Rickard Alriksson. Jakobson took over the drums, and the vocal duties were shared between him and Talarczyk. This change brought a unique groove to their sound, especially evident in the two recordings prior to “Inhale/Exhale”. Jakobson’s personal touch on the drum parts added a distinctive rhythm to the blasts.

From the beginning, Nasum’s sound was influenced by crust and hardcore, with Swedish bands like Anti-Cimex and Mob 47 serving as inspirations. This influence, combined with their evolving style, led to the creation of “Inhale/Exhale”.

Inside the Studio

“Inhale/Exhale”, Nasum’s groundbreaking album, was recorded between December 1997 and January 1998 at Soundlab Studios in Örebro, Sweden. The production team was a collaboration between Nasum, Mathias Färm, and Per Lindberg, with Mieszko Talarczyk and Anders Jakobson as the key members of Nasum involved in the recording.

Talarczyk, apart from contributing guitars, bass guitar, and screaming vocals, also took on the roles of engineering, mixing, editing, and pre-mastering. Jakobson, in addition to his drumming and death growls, contributed to the mixing, layout, and logo of the album.

The production team also included Robert Ahlborg, who was responsible for photography and artwork, and Adam Peterson, who contributed to the artwork. Executive producers William J. Yurkiewicz Jr. and Matthew F. Jacobson, along with Dan Swanö and Dave Shirk, who handled editing, pre-mastering, and mastering, respectively, were also key contributors to the production of “Inhale/Exhale”.

Mathias Färm was involved in recording and engineering, while Per Lindberg was involved in recording. Their combined efforts helped shape the unique sound of “Inhale/Exhale”.

Interestingly, the recording of “Inhale/Exhale” marked a departure from Nasum’s previous efficient way of writing songs. They allowed the songs to breathe a little by not cutting down on intros, repetitions, or longer parts. They also added a few non-grind songs, which they used to call “break songs”, as they functioned as breaks between the blast attacks. This approach added a new dimension to their sound, further enhancing the distinctiveness of “Inhale/Exhale”.

Behind the Tracks

Released on 26 May 1998 under the label Relapse Records, “Inhale/Exhale” marked a significant milestone in Nasum’s journey. The album, firmly rooted in the grindcore genre, consists of 38 tracks, each carrying a unique message and critique.

The title track, “Inhale/Exhale”, uses the act of breathing as a metaphor for life and death, highlighting the inevitability of our existence. “The New Firing-Squad” critiques systemic failures and the violence and manipulation used to control individuals. “Information Is Free” comments on the lack of privacy in the modern world, emphasizing that everyone’s information is out there for anyone to see.

“Burning Inside” speaks to the need for change and evolution, encouraging listeners to seize the day and turn darkness into light. “A Request for Guidance” critiques the punk scene, emphasizing the importance of independent thought. “Grey” paints a picture of hopelessness and despair, reflecting on a society and future that seem devoid of color. “Worldcraft” critiques societal structures, discussing how complex systems create new societies from scratch.

The album’s cover, featuring gas masks, became a distinctive symbol for Nasum.

The album’s cover, featuring gas masks, became a distinctive symbol for Nasum. Initially intended for a demo tape by Mieszko and Anders’ one-time death metal band Bloodshed, the image was deemed more suitable for a Nasum cover, adding another layer to the album’s unique identity.

Initial Reception and Reviews

Upon its release, “Inhale/Exhale” was met with widespread acclaim, quickly establishing itself as a classic in the grindcore genre. Critics lauded the album for its brutal and intense sound, with many noting it as one of the most adrenaline-pumping, head-smashing records in all of grindcore.

Critics lauded ‘Inhale/Exhale’ for its brutal and intense sound, with many noting it as one of the most adrenaline-pumping, head-smashing records in all of grindcore.

The album’s heavy, bassy production and manic riffs set it apart from many other grindcore releases at the time. Critics appreciated the diversity of the album, particularly praising Nasum’s ability to balance extreme grindcore tracks with “break songs”. This dynamic approach to songwriting was seen as a breath of fresh air in a genre often criticized for being overly one-dimensional.

“Inhale/Exhale” was also noted for its thick, buzzing, and organic tones, a keen balance of clarity and heft, and just enough rough edges to keep things honest and gritty. Critics praised Nasum’s ability to combine shrewd use of melody and face-melting extremity with hugely catchy grooves and memorable riffs, elevating Nasum to elite status within the grindcore scene.

The album’s crusty guitar tone, relentless aggression, and catchy grooves were particularly praised, with critics noting that these elements set Nasum apart from other bands in the genre. Celebrated for its raw power and unique blend of grindcore, crust, and hardcore influences, “Inhale/Exhale” is considered a landmark debut in the grindcore genre.

Beyond the Release

“Inhale/Exhale”, as Nasum’s debut album, holds a significant place in the band’s discography. It is credited with reviving the grindcore scene following a downturn in the 1990s. Its influence was so profound that even Napalm Death, pioneers of the genre, credited the album for encouraging them to return to their faster, grindcore roots with their album “Enemy of the Music Business” in 2000.

“Inhale/Exhale” holds a significant place in the band’s discography and is credited with reviving the grindcore scene following a downturn in the 1990s.

Over the years, “Inhale/Exhale” has seen multiple reissues, testament to its enduring popularity. The LP was initially released by Relapse in collaboration with Sweden’s Distortion records on yellow vinyl, with a second edition on black vinyl also issued. A picture disc was made by Sweden’s Vinyl Maniacs/GMR in 2005 when they released the first three albums on this format.

In late 2014, “Inhale/Exhale” was reissued on vinyl along with the three other Nasum albums. This reissue, released in a gatefold cover, included liner notes by Anders Jakobson and came in three editions: 2400 copies in black vinyl, 500 copies in gold/white merge with black, gold and red splatter, and 100 copies in clear vinyl.

In January 2023, a second reissue was released, in a regular cover, and as a part of Gimme Metal Vinyl Club. These reissues not only celebrate the album’s significance but also ensure that its legacy continues to be appreciated by new generations of grindcore fans.

Looking Back at “Inhale/Exhale” and Nasum’s Impact

“Inhale/Exhale”, Nasum’s debut LP, was the culmination of half a decade of toiling in the underground, releasing a variety of splits and EPs. This 38-track blitzkrieg of grind violence marked a significant milestone in the band’s journey. While subsequent albums saw Nasum further honing and sharpening their tools of destruction, the gritty, slightly rawer power of “Inhale/Exhale” remains as vital today as it did upon its release.

Across a relatively short recording career, featuring four full-length albums, Nasum created an intimidating, high-quality body of work that propelled grindcore into the modern era. Alongside other modern innovators like Pig Destroyer, Nasum played a crucial role in raising the genre’s underground profile, without losing an ounce of the white-knuckle intensity and raw aggression typical of grind.

Tragically, the band’s journey was cut short when frontman/guitarist Mieszko Talarczyk was one of over two hundred thousand people killed in the 2004 Asian tsunamis. This devastating event effectively ended the band, leaving a legacy that was both powerful and poignant.

“Inhale/Exhale” remains an essential slice of grind history, a debut album of mammoth proportions, and a late ’90s grind classic that kick-started a powerhouse career.

“Inhale/Exhale” remains an essential slice of grind history, a debut album of mammoth proportions, and a late ’90s grind classic that kick-started a powerhouse career of worldwide grind dominance for Nasum. Despite their tragic end, Nasum’s legacy is set in concrete, leaving an indelible imprint in the history books of grind. “Inhale/Exhale” is a critical early statement from a timeless band and a surefire grind classic not to be missed.