Album Review: Demonical – Chaos Manifesto

I must admit that I got into Demonical half way through their musical career with the excellent Death Infernal album in 2011 with its massive old school Swedish sound. This is the sound that I crave and they have continued to follow this path since their previous formation as Centinex was put to bed in 2006. Unfortunately for Demonical, a steady line up is but a dream and numerous line up changes have occurred with every album. Centinex also reformed back in 2014, with bassist Martin being the only member left in Demonical, so enlisted the help of a couple of his band mates in Centinex to record Chaos Manifesto with a more old school Svensk Dödsmetal the way it should be and, let me tell you, this is Demonical’s best output yet.

Everything from this album is old school Swedish death metal, from the artwork on the cover (from Karmazid) to the HM-2 sounding guitar riffs that are rife throughout this album. This made me turn back the clock to the late 80s and early 90s again. No matter whatever scene you were listening to when you were growing up, you always love the nostalgic trip back in time, especially when it is this good. My case in point is opening track “A Void Most Obscure” which is absolutely stunning and devastating in its effect of paying homage to the old gods.

The vocals of Alex remind me of Mikael Akerfeldt on the first Bloodbath album and are simply stunning. This song has everything in it, from the magnificent Entombed/Dismember riffs from Johan and Eki to the battery of the rhythm section bassist Martin and drummer Kennet. This form of metal is in their blood and this is from musicians that have been playing this form of metal since 1988 with Swedish underground legends Interment, so this type of music comes naturally to them. I cannot stress enough how good this song is and if this sets the tone for the album, then this will be a classic old school death metal album made by veterans for veterans of the scene.

With a title like “Towards Greater Gods”, there can only be one band that has influenced Demonical to write this song and that is Amon Amarth. This is so good that you can vision Amon Amarth stealing this and playing it themselves, with a singalong chorus that just has you grabbing that drinking horn and filling it with mead. The sound of the album is excellent, mixed and mastered by Karl Liden and it just helps propel things to another level. “Sung to Possess” starts things off in a Bolt Thrower and Entombed fashion which made this deathster smile from ear to ear. The vocals again from Alex again shine here and they rival that of Thomas Josefsson of Evocation for being on top form right now. I find myself reliving how good things felt in my teenage years discovering death metal for the first time – the songs are that good.

“Valkommen Undergang” as you can probably guess is not sung in English but instead in Demonical’s native tongue of Swedish. This is a first for the band and is certainly the most anthem-like and one for the moshers out there. It is a neck breaker with its groove and catchy chorus. I just imagine the crowd going “hey” all the time as this is just an ideal song to play live and get the crowd moving. “Torture Parade” brings it right back to early Demonical with the speed element to the song. The sound has to be mentioned here as the drums sound superb, as do the guitars courtesy of Karl Linden. The riffs are just perfect old school worship backed by Johan and Eki – this is just Swedish death metal at its very best.

“From Nothing” starts off with a bass interlude from Eki reminiscent of Dismember’s “Dreaming in Red” and even the melodic riffs at the start are not a million miles away either. Overall, this is the slowest song on the album and has more emphasis on the power rather than speed element which is always a plus in my book. “Unfold Thy Darkness” reminds me again of debut album Bloodbath which is an admirable reference for any band. Fast frantic riffs and blast beats in places are the order of the day and the structure of the songs is one of the strong points that Demonical have. Everything is seamless and the time changes flow beautifully to provide another headbanger’s wet dream.

Last song and beautifully titled “Death Unfaithful” starts off making you think that it’s going to be an instrumental as the opening riffs had that vibe about it. This is before Alex growls his vocals and brings this into a very strong closer that just makes you want to press the repeat button and play the whole album again. Excellent double bass, windmilling riffs and groove are the order of the day here and this band know how to kick ass with aplomb.

I have mentioned a few bands that obviously influence Demonical in their sound but Demonical are not mere copycats. There are only a handful of bands that can keep things original but it’s safe to say, the world needs bands like Demonical. Demonical keep a scene alive that has been going for thirty years now, and I applaud what they are doing in probably their strongest album to date.

It was around this time last year that Evocation released in my view album of the year. Demonical, I am very certain, will be up there at the end of this year for me such is the strength on show here from all musicians. I hope Demonical can get on the road as these songs deserve to be heard and I will be in the front row moshing my ass off. I have this album on repeat and so should you!

Chaos Manifesto is out March 23rd

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