Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dustbin of Demos: Vol IX

This week, the flavor text comes at the end, once again. This isn't a joke about the second coming of Luciferum Penis in the dustbin, but it probably should be. 

Luciferum Penis - Black Metal Satanic-cum
Black metal from Italy

This band is growing on me, no pun intended. The simplicity of the two-piece - active drumming and a single guitar - lets them shape dark, mystical vibes. While the band uses the standards - blast beats and tremolo chords - the two are well-connected and having a real drummer on real drums with a basement sound gives him a decent degree of expression in how he plays along like an occult rock drummer, rather than a typical metal timekeeper. The guitarist plays some ominous lines which brood in the dark simplicity of the sound, which adds a nice dynamic to contrast the feelings of single-note and chord tremolo lines, even some bouncy riffs. I enjoy this because it has the vibe of two guys crafting a dark style and dark sound, technically unimpressive but creatively intriguing. Great black metal demo vibe without the cliches.

Lost Flood - Demo
Punk/black metal from Lancaster, United Kingdom

A tough demo to get into, as it is both indistinct and unfocused. It's rough, it's poorly performed, and the mediocrity extends to the mish-mash of unidentifiable, undirected stylings. The roughness gives it a crusty vibe, the riffiness makes me wonder if it's supposed to be like old crust punk/heavy metal from the UK. It doesn't really sound like that though. The sheer roughness and punk/rock take on black-ish metal is reminiscent of early Absurd, but god damn, there's not an ounce of pride in this. There's plenty of feedback and rawness, like one of those shitty bands that thing the harsh hostility of Eyehategod is their thing too, but only manage to sound as horribly grating as Abruptum. A headache, that's what this is.

Through Carnage - Demo
Metalcore/melodic death/thrash metal from Radeberg, Germany

As if melodeathrash-metalcore wasn't already the most mashed potato metal style, in true German fashion this weighs heavily on the heavy/power metal influence in melodeath and even throws in a few folky leads. Perhaps something like a thrashier Trivium, or a softened up version of the neothrash of Casketgarden, without that ATG-like air of desperation. Not quite melodic and poppy enough to be Gothencore, not thrashy enough to be thrash, too core-ish to be heavy metal. As these descriptions tell, the band's style is very indistinct and rather uninteresting. It touches on many styles, has a flair for none, and is so generally inoffensive that it's offensive. Now that's something every metalhead can be bored to death by!

Elforg - Demo 2014
Folk/groove metal from Warsaw, Poland

The grandeur of Polish pagan/black metal is astounding, yet Elforg demonstrate poor judgment of here by playing dinky folk metal backed by simple groove riffs that conjure a feeling of stoner, maybe even southern metal when the violin stops playing. The first song is bad groove/fiddle fodder, the second is more upbeat with chuggy heavy/thrash riffs and some more fiddle which complements a folky guitar lead-in. The problem is, the riffs and arrangements are boring and simple, while the fiddle plays to another tune most of the time - it might as well be a different song. Skyclad is eloquent thrash metal with violins; this is like an amateur playing Machine Head riffs with a violinist.

The Arcbane - Demo II
Melodic groove/thrash metal from Shanghai, China

The second vocal-less demo from this "melodic death metal" band. The band has a vocalist, but so far the demos are only instrumentals, and they're clearly missing the ability of the vocalist to create hooks and lead the music. This is mostly mid-paced, groovy melodic thrash riffs that sound at times like American metalcore minus the hardcore parts, at other points like nu-Gothenburg riffing, groovy melodic stuff stripped of any death metal. There are quite a few guitar leads and solos, again quite melodic. Decent riffs, but no interaction nor flow within the band whatsoever. The production is rough demo-quality, which positively sets it apart from the overproduced, overpolished production this style tends to have. However, the band's timing gets a bit off at times, which feels uncomfortable with the mechanical riffing style. While I like the style the band is going for, the music itself is incomplete and extremely boring.

This exemplifies a common flaw in modern demos: the music present is incomplete, yet there are nine tracks and 40+ minutes of music. The context of a demo is different from the 80s and 90s, when a label might hesitate to pay for studio time if a band didn't have a full album written. Homemade demos were rough, but a studio recording of a decent band pressed to CD or LP could sell enough copies to recoup a couple days of studio time that the label paid for. Some bands made longer demos back then because of this, though most bands still opted to refine and finish fewer songs rather than simply present more. However, this has changed, because labels can't simply sell 1000 copies of an album because it contains decent music, and a band who hasn't established themselves isn't going to find funding for a recording much better than this. The best thing a band can do now is to improve and present complete songs as well as they could, because the quality of music is the sole deciding factor to demo listeners, not the quantity. When the listener has access to a virtually unlimited stream of music, they would be better off completing and improving 20 minutes of music rather than presenting 40 minutes of unfinished music.

No comments: