posted on 8/2011 By:
Death Infernal is the third release from Sweden’s Demonical. Three quarters of Demonical’s line-up is composed of former members of the long-running, but now defunct death metal act Centinex. Centinex, if memory serves, seemed to be a fairly well-regarded group, but, rightly or wrongly, I got it in my head that Centinex was a melodic death metal band, and I consequently avoided it like the plague. I am likewise wholly ignorant of Demonical’s previous work, so this review will lack any perspective on the band’s recorded legacy. I do, however, like to think I know a thing or two about death metal, particularly the old-school sort, and that seems to be what Demonical is serving up, so let’s get to it.
The savage sound of the Boss Heavy Metal pedal, which Demonical employs, usually brings to mind Entombed and its Stockholm death metal brethren, but upon listening to the first few songs of Death Infernal, it is Bloodbath that first comes up. I am splitting hairs, I suppose, as Bloodbath, initially at least, was an avowed tribute to the Stockholm death metal vanguard, but Demonical’s focused, tuneful compositions more resemble the work of the tribute act than they do the primal fury of the progenitors. And therein lies the rub: Demonical’s performance is polished and professional, and the band has a knack for deftly woven melodies, but the fury seems to be lacking. I get the impression that Demonical could write songs like this in its sleep. The tracks have a solid framework, but the arrangements have no flair. Demonical just seems to run through the songs in an efficient workmanlike manner, delivering its brand of death with clean cuts. But this is death metal and sterile efficiency will not serve: you need to twist the knife and make the songs scream, make them bleed.
Things take a turn for the better with Death Infernal’s fifth track, “March for Victory”. With its war theme and martial cadence, the track sounds like an Amon Amarth song, if Amon Amarth had recorded at Sunlight Studio. Fortunately in addition to borrowing some of Amon Amarth’s style, Demonical seems to have picked up some of that band's energy in the process. Though it veers into melodic death metal territory, “March” is a more impassioned and memorable performance than any of the preceding “standard” death metal tracks. Demonical retains this energy throughout Death Infernal’s stronger second half. “All Will Perish (The Final Liberation)” and “Slain Warriors” are mid-paced anthemic numbers, with strong melodies and strong vocal hooks, in the same vein as “March for Victory”. It is “Through Hellfire”, however -- a return to more traditional sounding death metal -- that has the sharpest teeth of all the album’s tracks. The song bursts forth with a pace that verges on blistering and then downshifts for a doomy mid-section, before Demonical nimbly accelerates back to the original tempo. “Darkness Awaits” is another straight-up burner, with a melodic coda reminiscent of “Left Hand Path” that brings both the song and album to a tasteful close.
In the end, Death Infernal is a respectable Swedish death metal album, but with such a seasoned line-up, I was hoping for more. The fact is, bands like Black Breath and Brutally Deceased (whose members were probably still pissing in diapers when Centinex was recording its first demos) are making albums with more fire (but certainly no more originality) than Death Infernal, so Demonical needs to step up their game if they want to stay relevant.
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