|Black Metal, Death Metal
Regain Records, Metal Blade Records (2011)
July 10th, 2006 / October 25th, 2011
Release length: 1:35:40
Really, there’s no need to say anything about this labor of love. Demonica is a fantastic collection of the band’s roots, and dedicated fans of the group will sit back with it and find a huge difference from their sound now compared to their rawer Black Metal sound that sometimes had a slight Punk edge to it. Obviously much of the release is going to have a lower audio quality to it, mostly due to the many of these songs not being available outside of a cassette tape recorded independently in the early nineties. Obviously disc one, which features some of the earliest demo recordings off their The Return of the Northern Moon recording. There are plenty of audio samples on these tracks, and they work well for the atmosphere despite being slightly louder and even sharper in the end. Among the long traditional Black Metal material, there are plenty of atmospheric tracks like “The Arrival” and “Monumentum” that bridge the gaps between the longer main songs well, abut they don’t really offer much outside of that. The only issue here is that, while there are six tracks from demo (the outro deducted) they seem to be a bit out of order. The disc starts off right with “…of My Worship (Intro),” which sets a creepier atmosphere well thanks to the audio samples used before bleeding into “Summponing of the Ancient Gods,” and then it all shifts forward a song. “The Arrival” is not part of this demo release, though tracks four through eight are, and are all very interesting to the fan who wants to get to know the group’s roots.
Aside the demo, disc one gives you a few bonus tracks that are worth your time. “Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain” has a rather poor audio quality that borders a modern sound and the old analog technology, and the guitars share both a clean and distorted sound that makes it sound rather odd. It’s not a bad song, but it’s also not one of the greatest you will come across by the band. The two that follow, “Cursed Angel of Doom” and “Transylvanian Forest” are both re-recorded versions. The audio to these also falls in the clean yet raw category that the previous song occupies, and while “Cursed Angel of Doom” is a good track, it’s “Transylvanian Forest” that really steals the show, working in more of a harsher Black Metal setting then an atmospheric one that doesn’t quite capture the sinister and haunting spirit the band tries obviously hard to obtain. The latter of those two songs also introduces a better audio quality and the more modern guttural vocal performance, making it the most up-to-date track on this recording. While that’s nice to have, it also takes away from the impact that this compilation has of giving listeners the band’s earliest sound and material.
So with that song just being out of place, and the tracks from The Return of the Northern Moon demo being a bit jumbled, you can’t help but feel like you get the idea of the group’s earlier sound, but yet the faults hold you back a bit. Luckily there’s a second disc that includes the …From the Pagan Vastlands demo, their third and follow-up to The Return of the Northern Moon. This is perhaps the most interesting section of this release. The entire demo is represented properly here with no tracks out of order, as well as showcase a far better audio quality that’s much clearer and obviously backed better financially. The group’s Black Metal sound with a slight melancholic and even melodic touch through the keyboards really wortks well for the demo, and makes for a very impressive effort compared to the earlier works on disc one, showing why it is this band was signed in the first place. To be honest, these tracks actually sound stronger then much of their newer material that put them on the map. The vocals here are especially a lot stronger, and they really add a sinister touch to the slight atmosphere to these tracks, such as with the abrasive “From Hornedlands to Lindisfarne” and the more traditional but still very black “The Dance of the Pagan Flames.” The only real complaint you can make to this set is that the drumming on “Blackvisions of the Almighty” sometimes goes off the beat a little bit. The final track of this demo is a cover of the Mayhem song “Deathcrush,” and given the audio and more sinister sound with these songs, it works perfectly to create a superb cover of such a Black Metal classic.
The rest of the material on this disc are just unreleased tracks and different versions of existing tracks like the last three on disc one. It’s sad that somehow the band’s first demo, Endless Damnation, didn’t make it onto this set, especially given how there’s just enough time on this disc to include it. The first three of these five later tracks are alternate recordings of the respected songs. “Moonspell Rites” is a far more raw, analog recording that “kvlt” fans would drool over, but the song itself is just not that great and really feels like it overstays it’s welcome by the four minute mark of the nearly seven minute track. Unfortunately this is the way all three of these songs come off, and overall they don’t end up being too inspiring, though “Blackvisions of the Almighty (Alternate Version)” is a bit stronger then the others, though not really by much. “The Oak Between the Snows” also doesn’t really amount up to anything too interesting either, though it has a better audio quality then the previous three. And of course you have the re-recorded “Spellcraft & Heathendom” which ends on a more modern note once more. It’s a good song, but again it seems to violate the older sound and roots concept of this collection.
Metal Blade Records did pick this release up to make it available once more to the general public. However, I did not receive a physical copy so I don’t really know what else is different about it since the audio and track list are the same. The press release that came with it claims it is newly repackaged, but that’s literally it aside quote Nergal about compiling the lyrics which apparently appear in the booklet. I have never read the booklet of the original, nor do I own the initial pressing of Demonica so I do not know if there are words from him in there or not, so I don’t know if this is part of any additional content to the reissue or not. Judging by the artwork provided in the press release, it looks like the artwork may be black with dull gold embossed artwork in the middle and band logo at the top.
Demonica is a good idea, but a few things went wrong at some point. The first demo on disc one is out of order for some reason, and that’s an issue that will bug the O.C.D. fans more then anyone else, and there are just some generally bland tracks that make up the unreleased parts of the album, making it clear why they never saw the light of day. Really the strength is in the two demo recordings that made their way onto this set, but why the band’s very first demo release is not on here is unknown, probably due to time restraints, but either way becomes a huge letdown. Other then that, Demonica makes for a nice collector’s piece for fans of Behemoth, and if you are and get the chance to pick up this limited edition release, there’s no real reason to pass it up unless you already have the tracks in your possession, but even then it makes for a nice collector’s piece. But, considering Metal Blade reissued this one, the value of the initial release will probably drop, and if you don’t have the cash for that initial pressing, or missed out completely on it, it’s nice that you have a second chance to get it cheaper.
01. Of My Worship (Intro) – 1:36
02. Summoning of the Ancient Gods – 6:08
03. The Arrival – 0:58
04. Dark Triumph – 5:24
05. Monumentum – 1:18
06. Rise of the Blackstorm of Evil – 7:03
07. Aggressor – 3:33
08. Goat With a Thousand Young – 3:09
09. Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain – 2:18
10. Cursed Angel of Doom – 3:09
11. Transylvanian Forest – 3:17
|Initial Pressing Score: 7/10
2011 Reissue Score: 7/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.