Demonical: Death Infernal

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Demonical: Death Infernal
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Demonical: Death Infernal
Death Metal
Cyclone Empire, Metal Blade Records
July 19th, 2011
Release length: 38:41
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Demonical is a Swedish Death Metal act that formed back in 2006. Among the Death Metal circles, dedicated fans of the style knew of the band’s existence, as well as those who stumbled upon them randomly, but this group was never put out into the spotlight. However, when you look at the line-up that formed this group, which consisted of Martin Schulman, Ronnie Bergerstahl, and Johan Jansson, all former members of Centinex and many other acts like Grave and Regurgitate it immediately becomes a band you’d want to check out. Founding vocalist Ludvig Engellau had stepped down from the band in 2007, which paved the way for one more reason to know fo this band’s existance: Sverker Widgren, vocalist of Diabolical. But, while this isn’t a supergroup, to many this is (myself included), which means caution may be needed for this release.

Death Infernal is actually the third effort from the band, and the previous two full-length albums all received generally positive feedback. And, wioth Death Infernal, that could easily become three. The album’s production is the typical stylish sounding production quality that while feeling cold sound a little more sleek then usual, having a heavier distortion one would expect from giants like Dismember or Bloodbath. This does not hurt the album, and thanks to the heavier presentation and often pounding, driving tracks that don’t follow a general Swedish Death Metal template, the music sounds rich and intense from the moment the album starts. The bass is loud in the mix, which makes the music just sound heavier against the deeper distortion of the guitars, and the drumming does a great job of adding a groove to the material and pushing it to the forefront along side the brutality of the music. The vocals match the general heaviness of the guitar’s distortion as well, and come off clean enough that you can clearly hear them, being a little lighter in patch compared to bands like Amon Amarth but still holding that same commanding authority to them.

With the production being ideal for an effort like this, the only ones left to screw things up would be the band, and thankfully they do not drop the ball. “The Arrival of Armageddon” sets up the album, and has a much faster approach to it then some of the other tracks. It’s also the shortest song of the release, and at first it may just sound like typical Swedish Death Metal, and in many ways it and the rest of Death Infernal are just that, but executed well to create solid performances for each track. The song’s blistering and intimidating atmosphere with that quicker pace just makes you feel like you’re being brutalized with a blunt object despite the fact that the song is nothing all too new for fans of the style. But, at the same time thanks to the speed, you can also hear a bit of a Thrash influence into the material, something one could compare to some Carnal Forge without as much intensity, though an equal amount of energy can be felt in the mix. But as you go through, the other bands already mentioned above show through very well, and even the band’s older Centinex influence can be found through the album at times, giving a pleasing ray of hope to fans of the now fallen act.

While the album sets you up for a high speed brutal bludgeoning, the rest of the material retains that blunt impact, but introduces more groove and catchier hooks that work with the heaviness of the album. “Return in Flesh” hooks the listener immediately as it starts up to conclude “The Arrival of Armageddon”, which doesn’t actually end normally but slams right into the next track instead, a smart move that keeps the adrenaline built from the first track like you would want to have happen at a live show for the band’s next track. “Ravenous” really stands out on this recording as well for it’s more aggressive yet catchy material. While not quite “The Arrival of Armageddon” in terms of speed, the song definitely enshrouds the previous four tracks with it’s more intense and epic-sounding material that is as catchy as it is menacing and evil. “Slain Warriors” is another fantastic track that solidifies much of the album through intensity, but also feels more like it again takes from a Thrash perspective and wants to include some gang chants into it, but simply doesn’t and instead opts for more gutturals. This isn’t bad and works with the flow of the album, but it would have been nice to hear the track like that with it’s full potential.

The funny thing here is that the band also seems to take inspirations from other bands. “March to Victory” is one of them, and while the vocal approach sounding like Amon Amarth was more a reference, this track kind of pushes that theory further with a more Swedish Death Metal interpretation of their more Melodic Death Metal sound. The guitar work is eerily familiar, as are the vocals, and anyone who was unaware this was Demonical would immediately think it’s a track off Twilight of the Thunder God that was used as a b-side. The guitar solo here is excellent though, as is the music despite it’s lack of originality though engaging unique spin on it, but one or two of the notes in it sound off, as if played wrong and shrugged off like no one wouold notice in the final mix, which it could be considering how energetic the song is and how quickly it will grab you and make a lasting positive impression aside the obvious inspirations being shown. This is where things do start to get shaky though, as more and more of the obvious influences really seem to seep into the band’s writing more then when it started. “Through Hellfire”, for example, does seem to come off more like a Dismembered track, or at least uses the basic template that many bands who enjoy this pioneering act utilize today. “All Will Perish (The Final Liberation)” is also a bit sketchy, just in the terms of quality. The slower pace to the music works well, but overall the track sounds a little more on the generic side compared to others, as if the band had a good idea but couldn’t put it down on paper so just went with plan-b to make it whole. This is where the rocky patch ends, and the album closes on a positive note with the aforementioned “Slain Warriors”, and “Darkness Awaits” picking up where “The Arrival of Armageddon” started things off for one final traditional Swedish Death Metal track with a hint of unique appeal, unlike “Return in Flesh” or “Ravenous” with their unique approach, and drives home their solid Death Metal approach and musical talents that leave the listener content and hungry for more.

If not for that rocky patch near the end, Demonical‘s latest offering Death Infernal would be a strong, solid Death Metal offering. Yes, you can’t deny that some of the pioneers and current big names in the Swedish scene for this style make an impact on their material, but outside “March for Victory” it all comes off as an enjoyable, heavy Death Metal effort that is catchy and bludgeoning at the same time with enough unique elements to keep the listener happy. But, there is still enough great tracks on here like “Ravenous” and “Slain Warriors” to warrant checking this effort out, even if you’re tired of the done-to-death foundation of Swedish Death Metal. These songs and many others weave enough of a deep, heavy album that you’ll walk out satisfied, and while maybe not go right back into the album for another spin immediately since it’s not the most original take on the style, you’ll definitely come back to it at later dates for some repeat spins and find yourself headbanging along each and every time.

01. The Arrival of Armageddon – 2:53
02. Return in Flesh – 4:00
03. Black Inferno – 4:07
04. Ravenous – 3:31
05. March for Victory – 4:48
06. Through Hellfire – 4:19
07. All Will Perish (The Final Liberation) – 5:37
08. Slain Warriors – 4:36
09. Darkness Awaits – 4:51
Overall Score: 8/10
Demonical (band)
Demonical
Digital review copy of this release provided by Cyclone Empire via Metal Blade Records.