Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dustbin of Demos: Vol XI

Beware, there's dust in the dustbin, literally and figuratively. Dust, dirt, and mold. I spent a bit too much time sorting through old boxes of audio and video tapes this week and found myself with a nasty cold, yet no nasty, cold black metal. 

Burnt Offering - Demo
Black metal from Germany

Basement demo-quality black metal which seems based on rough approximations and poor interpretations of prominent works. This band has absolutely no idea of the function of each part in the flow of each song - they jump from samples to brooding noodling to blast beats to mid-paced stuff constantly. They borrow the first riff from Mayhem's "Funeral Fog" but change the notes slightly so it doesn't have the eerie tension to it, just sloppy crap. There's a Celtic Frost "UGH!" in the same song out of nowhere, but the song is lost at that point and continues wandering without even getting into a proper homage with an intense moment which would follow Fischer's grunt. The band's drummer was Nargaroth, which simply underlines the point that this is a mediocre imitation of black metal.

Scythian Fall - Demo
Sludge/doom metal from Germany

Lots of lame breakdowns that seem to just be thick tone-basking, because they hardly have a place within the song, nor are they groovy on their own. There are two decent riffs on the demo, yet no concept of placement, building around the riffs in time nor instrumentation. Find a riff, wear it out, and eventually devolve into a breakdown. One hook to catch attention, then drag it out to bask in the aesthetic before going to a breakdown because it isn't headed anywhere. Dragging an aesthetic nowhere, because they have nothing to say. Puzzlingly boring stuff.

Fiendlord - Dust on the Chamber Floor
Symphonic black metal from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Black metal predominantly driven by keyboards, though the guitars work in some tension in the chord patterns beneath that. Though the keys and guitars, mostly the latter, manage to find their way to the lead at times, it seems like it takes the first two thirds of each song to get to a bridge section where all of the instrumentation finally resolves and meets before splitting off again. The drums are mostly a timekeeper and the vocals little more than a minor accompaniment, though there are some decent clean vocals on one song. There are some interesting quirks to the instrumentation, but large portions of it are entirely uninteresting, thus this demo is lackluster.

Elegiac - Demo 2014
Black metal from San Diego, California, USA

Comfortably atmospheric, somewhat dark through a relatively clean production, but it also feels uncomfortably clean and tame. The riffs hint at a certain feeling, but they just don't fully materialize anything, and the song structures don't really progress at all to shape the music. There are stretches where long melodies start to shape a story, but they soon dissolve into poor transitions, including several sections of feedback as a song ending or transition. I suppose this demo achieves marginal success by imitation, rather than demonstrating the ability to write a song about something, as the fragmented writing seems to suggest.

Cryptic Rising - Demo II
Post-black metal from Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Lo-fi garage rock meets bedroom black metal. Sloppy three-chord rock with a warm, harsh sound - a contrast to the cold sound of most black metal. There's a lovey-dovey shoegaze sound similar to Lonesummer, a proudly obnoxious moping feeling of mop-top-rock. Sheer existential affirmation with few merits - a kid with a guitar, a high-gain amp, and no idea how to record. Perhaps this aims for a campy lo-fi rock vibe like Pavement mixed with the ethereal howl of black metal, but it fails at both. Terrible bedroom music.

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