Dec 042010

Fuck, but I do love the comments on this site. For a good long while after we started NCS, we didn’t get any, but eventually they grew like magic mushrooms. A big part of the magic, at least for me, is the introductions we’ve gotten to bands we didn’t know about. That’s one of the objectives we had when we started NCS — one we’ve tried to follow through on consistently: Introduce people to new music, usually from bands that aren’t household names, at least here in the U.S. And in the process of trying to do that, we’ve learned about lots of new bands ourselves.

Case in point: this Finland Tribute Week thing we spontaneously started a few days ago. (We could have done this with other countries — and we will — but Finland just kinda emerged as the focal point of its own accord.) We invited suggestions for Finnish metal, and man, did we get them. They’re still coming in — and by all means, don’t stop! (The best place to continue adding suggestions is on this post — it’s a good collection point not only for me but also for readers who are as interested as I am in exploring new sounds.) We’ll still work into the daily posts some of our regular features, and maybe a new album review here and there, but I really don’t see any reason to put an artificial stop to the Finland tribute. The music is so richly varied and so good that it just makes sense to continue rolling with it.

Plus, it’s proving to be such a good antidote to Christmas season fuckery that rolling it right through the holiday is just what a good (witch)doctor would prescribe. Plus, who says we have to define a week by reference to the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis? We’ve discovered that it takes Mercury about 58 Earth-days to rotate once around its axis, which would make a week on Mercury the equivalent of 406 Earth-days. 406 days in a row of Finnish metal might be pushing the envelope past the rupture point, but it sure gives us a lot of leeway while continuing to call this series Finland Tribute Week. We like leeway.

So far, we’ve had three days in a row of Exceptions to the Rule. Don’t get me wrong — the music has been strong despite the presence, in varying degrees, of clean vocals and sweeping melodies. But to be brutally honest, I’ve had this gnawing hunger for something that’s harsh and nasty, like the feeling I get when I’m stuck in a place where I can’t smoke for hours on end. So today, we’re veering back in the more typical NCS direction with Demilich.  (And given how many intriguing recommendations we’ve received, we’ll probably start to double-up on these posts in the coming days, or this thing really will go on for 406 days.)  (more after the jump . . .)


I’ve seen the Demilich name before, on one or more blogs or forums, but for some reason never explored the music or knew anything about the band, despite the fact that when the name was dropped, it was usually with reverence. Then that name popped up twice in the Finland Week suggestions, from two dudes whose opinions we respect (byrd36 from Death Metal Baboon and Fredrik Huldtgren from Sweden’s Canopy, an NCS favorite). Fredrik also provided links to both a YouTube track (“The Echo (Replacement)”) and to the band’s web page, where all of their output can be downloaded for free. I listened to that YouTube track, and it blew my head clean off. (I’ve almost succeeded in reattaching it with Elmer’s glue and duct tape. Almost.)

The back-story here is interesting. This band came together in 1990 in Kuopio, and consisted of vocalist/guitarist Antti Boman, guitarist Aki Hytönen, bassist Ville Koistinen, and drummer Mikko Virnes. They created a couple of short demo’s in 1991 and two more in 1992, and then their first — and last — full-length album in 1993. It was called Nespithe and included a number of songs from the previous demo efforts plus new songs. The song titles were eye-catching and occasionally convoluted, some of which are in a style that has been repeated by loads of other bands in the genre now known as brutal death metal:

01 – When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water
02 – The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son of Fourteen Four-Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed)
03 – Inherited Bowel Levitation – Reduced Without Any Effort
04 – The Echo (Replacement)
05 – The Putrefying Road in the Nineteenth Extremity (…Somewhere inside the Bowels of Endlessness…)
06 – (Within) The Chamber of Whispering Eyes
07 – And You’ll Remain… (in Pieces in Nothingness)
08 – Erecshyrinol
09 – The Planet that Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh that it Desired…)
10 – The Cry
11 – Raped Embalmed Beauty Sleep

The song lyrics in the CD booklet were written in code, and both the album title and the 8th song are also in code. (They can be decrypted by grouping the letters in three, starting at the end of the word, and reversing the order of those groups — and so the decrypted album title is “The Spines”.) The lyrics are themselves cryptic, but fascinating to read.

And as far as I can determine, Nespithe was the last recorded music that the band released. They played what was originally announced as their last performance on July 22, 2006, but then came together for one additional performance at the Jalomettali Music Festival in Oulu, Finland on August 14, 2010.

Though it doesn’t appear that the band has created any new music since 1993, they’re certainly not out of mind. Antti Boman has kept a band web site going, where almost all the recorded songs, plus lyrics and artwork, can be downloaded at no charge.  (You can find it at this location.)

So much for the back-story. Onward to the music on Nespithe. It’s blazingly creative and superbly executed. It’s technical death metal created at a time when “technical death metal” was a genre label that hadn’t yet been invented. Loaded with polyrhythmic interplay and intra-song tempo changes, the songs take you on a freaked-out but totally mesmerizing mind-trip. The guitarists spin out inspired bursts of darting, swirling colors and tones, jumping time signatures like charging horses at a steeple-chase. The occasional solos appear at just the right places, and last just the right amounts of time, and they’re a blast to hear.

The bassist is a full-fledged member of the cavalcade on this album. His fretwork is just as nimble and inventive as the guitarists’ and, thankfully, his rhythms aren’t hidden in the deep background. And the drumming? Well, it’s mighty refreshing to hear. The drumming on today’s best-selling brands of technical death metal often consists of little more than speed, speed, and more speed, with the variety limited to blast-beats and double-kicks. But on Nespithe, Mikko Virnes is as much fun to listen to as the other instrumental adepts in this band. He’s acrobatic, but controlled; the arrangements are intricate but accurate; and man, is he creative.

Be forewarned: The echoing vocals are the kind of cavernous frog croaks you’ll find in greatest abundance nowadays in the brutal death metal genre. But even if that style isn’t your cup of tea, they’re pretty unobtrusive. This is primarily an album of instrumental music, and what’s really amazing is that it has lost nothing in the 17 years since it first appeared. It’s far better than much of what passes for technical death metal these days. It could be released tomorrow for the first time and it would make lots of people’s Best of 2010 lists. It’s that fucking good. Here’s a taste (the lyrics follow the link):

Demilich: The Echo (Replacement)

The incarnation of Echos
A creature from below
Your destiny is to be it
After eating of your soul

You feel its cold limb
It’s soon you, you’re sooner him


Now you’re the creature
The incarnation of All Echos

Your purpose in life is to imitate sounds and find your follower


  1. This album is nothing short of amazing. From what I’ve read there are no effects on the vocals btw, that’s apparently what he sounds like, if true then it’s pretty damn impressive.

    Very cool with the lyrics too, didn’t know that they were “encoded”. Maybe I’ll go on a Demilich binge before writing the new Canopy lyrics, not a bad place to start looking for some inspiration.

    • You should definitely look at the lyrics to all the songs on that page that Antti Boman maintains. I don’t know what most of them mean, but they’re still cool. They bring to mind interesting images. That photo of the CD booklet in the post is too small to see the coded lyrics, but if you right click and download the image and then increase the size, you’ll see it. Also, you’re right about the vocals being amazing — I just assumed they had a little electronic help.

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