The Invocation Of Demise
posted on 7/2009 By:
Well now! How the hell did this little gem manage to fall through the cracks?
I honestly don't recall the last time Metal Blade surprised me with a record I wasn't already privy to that turned out to be enjoyable from start to finish. No offense to Metal Blade, if that's even possible after such a sentence, but over the years I've simply come to expect solid releases from the likes of Bolt Thrower, King Diamond/Mercyful Fate and the occasional Fates Warning from the long standing label -- no more, no less. This record, however, was a delightful little surprise.
The Invocation of Demise is a perfect example of a black metal record that cleanly bridges the gap between genre noobs put off by the more raw end of the spectrum and the grim oldschooler's howling at the moon with homemade weapons in their hands -- more proof that it is indeed possible to create slick sounding black metal that still holds true to an unholy enmity far from anything I'd consider commercial. The production is crisp, warm and welcoming, and it very suitably flaunts each player's skill with their respective wares. But it also doesn't take away from the album's vicious bite, as nearly every tune features masses of crude, knifing riffs and flailing drum attacks that swarm the listener like a hive of hellfire hornets.
The military snare driving the intro announces the hostilities to come quite nicely, but the real boot-kick-to-the-jimmy strikes the moment "As Everything Rupture" barrels from the gate. This tune is easily the most straight-forward with its cutting intent, but it does a fine job of showcasing just how maliciously these Swedes can play. From that point on, each song tempers the speed through various means. Pleasant acoustics plink about towards the close of "Plague Death" and during the short instrumental, "On Stillborn Wings". Bright, melodic guitars woven into slower, galloping measures hit often as well and give the record some nice epic stretches reminiscent of latter era Immortal, or their single-lettered cousin, I. There's even a bit of a "summery" feel to the oddly uplifting "Purification and Demise", something that admittedly sounds strange, but Valkyrja manage to weave in the pleasantries without really skipping a beat.
The only thing I can imagine that could knock some folks' enjoyment level down a notch or two would be the rather dreary manner in which the vocals are rasped. Dreary, slightly ill and as if they were pulled from a man who's just finished piking his foes on a battlefield -- that's the best way I can think to describe them. Yes, they're a shade pedestrian, but they also have a bit of an "Abbath" charm that gives them just a smidge of beer guzzling biker charm as well.
Originally recorded for a short run through Northern Silence Productions back in 2007, it's easy to understand why the folks at Metal Blade decided to jump on this band and reissue The Invocation of Demise: the album fucking rips! Those pleased with the output from baneful acts such as Ondskapt (with whom Valkyrja share members), Glorior Belli, Watain, and Mortuus, you'll find plenty of poison to defile yourself with on this record as well. While I wouldn't quite consider it essential or groundbreaking, The Invocation of Demise is a clean, precise, often epic, but still vicious black metal record that's undoubtedly worthy of attention.
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