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Ordeal By Fire, the six track demo by Deadfall was engineered in the singer's bedroom and has no recording industry backing of any sort. As such it is one of those recordings which placed along side all other metal albums is "pretty good", but placed in context, is "bloody excellent". The band have only recently left their teenage years and formed less than a year ago, and as such to produce Ordeal By Fire is a feat unto itself. But enough for the mean time on the band, what about the songs?
State of the Art is a reasonably lengthy, fast hitting catchy track that opens the demo in perfect style. The song stays a pretty constant pace all the way through, utilising typical complicated triplet led Deadfall riffs to lead through a song simple enough to be very memorable, but complicated enough to last six and a half minutes and still carry the impression of a much shorter, ‘single style’ song. It manages to cram a lengthy intro, a lengthy outro, multiple solos, verses, pre-choruses, choruses and a viciously heavy bridge in while all the time definitely sounding like one coherent song, not cobbled together riffs.
Second To None, which features some impressive lyrics, is the longest track on the album, and doesn’t attempt to disguise it. Different themes run through the track, emerging at different points slightly altered. The style is similar the State of the Art, but the track takes its time a little more. There is a clean bridge section in the middle (which an impressively emotional solo) which works brilliantly to separate the two halves of the track which reflect on each other lyrically and musically. Given the different riffs and complicated nature of the track one could possibly label it a little proggy. This is definitely a grower which gets better with each listen (there are solo sections by each instrument), but again manages to be catchy on first listen.
Nine Lies is the anthem of the demo, and incredibly is over six minutes forty seconds, though seems a neat four in length when listened to. The song is built on a simple and instantly memorable riff that lends itself to the verse and the chorus. The lead sections and bridge show the same technical skill as the rest of the demo, but the majority of the song is of a far simpler nature. However, this is definitely not a bad thing, and adds a solid middle to the demo which has appeal above and beyond thrash metal. The lyrics are impressive as always, especially given the simple and amusing nature of their conception. The bridge part of this track perhaps goes on ever so slightly too long with too many repeats, but is made up for a fantastic layered solo it contains.
Ordeal By Fire itself is a fast, hard hitting number that sees all the Deadfall trademarks, complicated riffs, multiple parts to the song, catchy memorable lyrics and vocal melodies and technically superior performances. The song opens with an interesting 7:4 time riff and keeps the listener alert throughout the track through a cunning use of keeping the same theme, but varying how the song is put together. This is something Deadfall do a lot, rarely are second and third verses just repeats of the first one, and they strive to add memorable little additions in amongst the key riffs in the form of lead breaks or pauses. This song also features perhaps the fastest solo on the album at the end of a brilliantly built up variation of the pre-chorus.
Life or Death is a relatively slower, chunkier affair with a refreshingly complex verse line which sees the lead and vocal melody taking turns to fill the treble section of the song. The chorus is again a catchy memorable composition which an excellent use of a pause to bring it in. The track is in some ways simpler than the others with only three main riffs used for the verse, pre-choruses and chorus respectively. However, the band is able to squeeze multiple variations of the riffs into the song so it never seems repetitive or samey at any point.
Holy My Own is back to fast, blast beat driven classic Deadfall. The riffs are triplet led and complicated, the drumming manic and the solos shreddy. The lyrics are few and are utilised in repeats, sporadically manic with occasionally moments of rest whilst the lead plays out a tiny solo, but never losing its sense of urgency. It seeks to successfully close the demo on the same vein it opened on, and the temptation to simply press Play again is very high (and recommended).
All in all, the demo manages to be catchy on first listen, but not get boring after many, many listens thanks to the bands reluctance to resort to straight repeats.
So, what are the problems? The only real problems stem from the bands inexperience and freshness to the seen. The vocals are just slightly too much like James Hetfield and the riffing sometimes just slightly too much like other Thrash bands. It doesn’t detract from the demo, but it removes from Deadfall’s sense of identity. Whilst you can’t say “That song is the Testement song and that riff is the Holy Wars part” or anything so direct, some growth is needed in forming the bands true sense of what they sound like. Having seen the band live recently and hearing some new songs not on the demo, I’m happy to report these problems are being resolved, and the specific Deadfall sound is emerging. However, these are not issues that should put you off obtaining the demo (which you can for free from their site) and enjoying potentially many hours of listening time from the CD. This demo serves basically exactly what it is, a demonstration of what the band are capable of, which we shall see on the soon to be recorded album the band are working on, and when we do, it’ll be a good day for metal indeed.