Album Reviews

Demonoid – Riders Of The Apocalypse

(Nuclear Blast) UK release date: 26 July 2004

Demonoid - Riders Of The Apocalypse I wandered into my high street newsagent yesterday to discover that, contrary to many a critic’s opinion, there are ‘big things’ going on in metal at the moment: what with Axl Rose doing his worst to block the release of yet another Guns N’ Roses compilation, the lostprophets busy covering Rachel Stevens numbers and poor old Lars Ulrich stuck in the middle of a divorce settlement (aww, the poor philandering Norseman).

So phenomenal are said acts, they have succeeded in eclipsing the release of a nine song masterpiece which takes shape as the ONLY worthy challenger to Killswitch Engage‘s The End Of Heartache in the battle for album of the year.

You are forgiven, die hard metal fans for knowing less about Demonoid (the best thing to happen to old school death metal since the invention of the double bass drum pedal) let alone having heard anything by them, as they form somewhat of a death/thrash super group. Demonoid’s members will be no strangers to most, with three long standing members of Therion forming the vocal and string sections, while Soilwork/Chimera drummer Rickard Evensand proceeds single handedly to rewrite the death metal textbook.

Entitled Riders Of The Apocalypse the concept album is a “mix of fantasy, history and theology”, which provides some amazing visual soundscapes, technically masterful musicianship, and most importantly some damn good death metal.

Opener Wargods is the perfect induction to a band who have disguised what appears on the surface to be ‘by the book’ death metal with volcanically powerful grooves and full on lead melodies that snarl and scream from both vocal and six stringed beasts alike.

With relentless force, the divine guitar work that follows is nothing short of awe inspiring. As if this wasn’t enough to blow you away, the seven minute epic proceeds to deliver some simply inhuman drum fills, underpinned by orchestral synthesisers. – but wait, it gets better.

The Evocation conjures up strong Cradle Of Filth reminiscence, while ‘Firestorms’ starts in the same arena as Fear Factory‘s latest material then descends into a tribal tinged bridge before re-releasing a thrash. The Arrival Of The Horsemen draws you in with two minutes of swirling atmospheric introduction before unleashing a riff so brutally primitive that it would give most metalheads nightmares.

End of Our Times is an out and out thrashy death number that would make Dimmu Borgir blush beneath his death paint. This is where Demonoid truly come into their own, not being chained to the clichéd ‘four to the floor’ beat formula for the entire number but finding space to drop in almost half time epic choruses that swirl out of your speakers, before dragging you kicking and screaming into a screaming solo, before so many riff breaks and tempo changes erupt that your CD player will be left gasping for breath.

The aptly titled Death once again delivers some truly melodic death metal licks layered with subversive synth beneath. Grindcore grooves then emerge for the verses, forming the perfect soundtrack to any number of ancient horse back battles that thrived in the dark ages.

Their theology may be a little on the dark side, the vocals verging on the unintelligible, and the artwork on the wrong side of cheesy, but no matter how soon the impending Apocalypse arrives, one thing is for sure, Demonoid have, with their marvellous debut, secured themselves a place in Death Metal history.

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Demonoid – Riders Of The Apocalypse