(Here’s DGR‘s review of the new album by the Swedish death metal band Demonical, released earlier this month by Agonia Records.)
Demonical operate like clockwork. They’re one of the least presumptuous bands out there, playing a style of music that requires very little pretense to understand from the get-go. You know what you’re in for with a Demonical album by this point and they’ve stuck rigidly to that formula for some time.
They’ll have eight songs for you, weighing in at a little over half an hour, and the cover art will likely be of the same school of the last few releases from them. Mass Destroyer is the group’s second release with the current lineup; one that saw some minor shifting right around the time bassist Martin Schulman‘s other project Centinex went through lineup changes as well, but you’ll recognize Mass Destroyer as a Demonical release quickly.
The new album sounds like it was born from the exact sessions that gifted us World Domination in late 2020. They stopped at “Calescent Punishment” on that album and they start right where they left off with “We Conquer The Throne” on the new one. They’ve become the no-frills action movie of the death metal world and you’ll know if you want that from the start. There’s no twists and turns here and the bad guy is made very clear at the start of the movie. They make their opening statement with the previously mentioned “We Conquer The Throne” and then spend the next thirty-four minutes of Mass Destroyer reinforcing it.
With the last few Demonical releases it has been a fun experiment to see which songs become people’s favorites out of the mix. Due to their approach to music, Demonical have become one of those groups perfectly suited for a ‘mood’ as opposed to one particular album. Each release settles into its straightforward death metal groove early on and every song becomes more brick and mortar to add to the wall of buzzsaw-driven sound that defines them.
They make batches of songs to add to an ever-growing body pile with Mass Destroyer being the latest collection of dangling limbs thrown in. You could have a pretty fuckin’ good time throwing on the collective works of Demonical since 2007’s debut Servants Of The Unlight and just letting it run all mixed up. Other than the five-year gap between Darkness Unbound and Chaos Manifesto, Demonical have been fairly rigid in their scheduling with every two years hitting us with another full-length of galloping riffs and hammering snare drum.
That said, we won’t act like there aren’t a few highlights within the mix of otherwise “good to good” that is within Mass Destroyer. “We Conquer The Throne” opens the album damned strong. It’s understandable why Demonical chose that as the opening number because it imprints itself upon the rest of the disc quickly.
The band are on occasion less rigidly bound to genre-descriptors than other groups – they’ve always kept a foot in the modern death metal world – so every once in a while you’ll get a song like “Lifeslave”, which is built upon a swaying march and melodic lead in its opening segments. It’s one of the two slower numbers within Mass Destroyer but doesn’t feel like it’s dragging, mostly because Demonical know to quick fucking around and get back to that opening line quickly.
Of course, the main ammunition that Demonical draw their fire from are songs like “Cemented In Ire” and “Wrathspawn” and they’re the songs that’ll really hammer home the sort of unrelenting and straightforward death metal impression that Mass Destroyer creates. There’s plenty of room here for vocalist Christofer Säterdal to sound like he’s fronting an ever-moving horde.
I’ts always weird when you want to mark Demonical as being one of the more unassuming death metal bands out there because seriously, look at the cover art, look at all those skulls and demons and shit, right? But, death metal is a genre of such extremes and variability that even with all the throne-conquering and destruction happening within Mass Destroyer, you can get pretty comfortable pretty quick and just let the band bowl you over.
Mass Destroyer is one of those releases that will slot in just fine among the roiling innards of the violence via guitar death metal scene that is out there at this moment. Demonical have become very good at this style over their career and Mass Destroyer is just the latest entry offered up as proof. It’s not in the business of blowing minds with how many contortions and additions they can work into to their chosen style, its more so music executed well according to a well-defined blueprint. All the ‘skulls and demons and shit’ are well justified.