Demonoid - _Riders of the Apocalypse_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
It is astonishing on a number of levels that the core membership of Therion were able to record an album of such blistering impact so soon after releasing what easily ranks as one of the defining moments of their career. On the surface, Demonoid might seem like just another pet-project in the vein of Bloodbath and Chaosbreed -- paying tribute to early masters of extremity in a nostalgic, rather than innovative manner. But, while Demonoid certainly do have a lot in common with those bands, their sound owes as much to Morbid Angel as it does to the earliest Therion albums. Make no mistake: symphonic metal it most definitely is not. Former Soilwork / current Chimaira drummer, Rickard Evensand, hammers out an impressively technical and speedy collection of beats to underpin the hellish extremity served up by his bandmates, while it is an absolute pleasure to once again hear Christofer Johnsson employ his rarely used skill as a bona fide death growler. But even with death metal very much being the order of the day, it is the strand of experimentation that lends this album its overwhelmingly dark atmosphere and distinctive charm. Again, this is a long way away from the grandiose orchestras and choirs of Therion, and instead rears its head in the occasional and subtle use of synths. Elsewhere, the clean intro on "14th Century Plague" and the baritone chorus on "The Evocation" further the album's sinister ambience to jaw-dropping levels. Indeed, with all the attention currently headed in Therion's immediate direction, one can only hope, based on the masterful songwriting displayed here, that Demonoid will not be relegated to a mere one-off exercise.


(article published 23/6/2004)

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