Demonic - _The Empire of Agony_
(Necropolis Records, 1998)
by: Henry Akeley (6.5 out of 10)
Expecting to be led down a well-worn path through some fairly generic Norse blackness, I find myself entering some unexpected (if not exactly uncharted) terrain. This is black metal first and foremost, of course: there's a gratuitous keyboard intro and so on, and the lyrics, from what I can make out, do not deviate one iota from the standard repertoire. Yet this band sounds a bit distinctive in that they give off a conspicuously grinding vibe. The Grieghallen production is surprisingly warm, with more mid-range and bottom end than the typical Norwegian black metal sound. Also, the drums are recorded and mixed with unusual clarity (again, by black metal standards!), with the result that the faster parts have this weird "Nordic tribal thunder grind" feel. This feel is sort of enhanced by the song structures, too; for black metal, the songs are quite short (several around three minutes apiece), and they're mostly built up from alternating slower sections and buzz-saw blasts. The problem is that too many of the riffs on the album just seem rather flat -- so once the novelty of the grinding vibe wears off, I seem to be left with a couple of standout tracks and not much else of lasting interest. Still, this is not a bad album, really -- more a case of potential that doesn't get fulfilled. I think these guys could make a real tough record if they just got stronger in the riffing department. From the promo sleeve: "Release Date: February 14, 1998." Isn't that sweet?

(article published 10/3/1998)

5/10/1996 G Filicetti 7 Demonic - Lead Us Into Darkness
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