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Here it is. The demo that caused an eruption in 1991 and left aftershocks that can still be felt 15 years later. Death metal really doesn't get much better than this. While "Left Hand Path" and "Dreaming With the Dead" take the trophy album-wise (as far as I'm concerned), "Unholy Domain" is at the very top of the mountain in terms of demo tapes. I must have listened to this one over a hundred times since I first got it, and it has definitely taken its toll on the poor cassette! In fact, the first thing I noticed when I popped it in is how worn out it was. It sounded like a 3rd generation dub, but I'm certain that I got it from a guy with the original and I remember it sounding very good in terms of production. It's a good thing I had a better sounding copy on the Demigod/Necropsy split MLP, but at this rate who knows how that will sound 10 years from now. I keep telling myself that someday I'll copy all of this precious stuff to CD-R... But back to the demo!
Many people hold Demigod's debut album "Slumber of Sullen Eyes" in high regard, and rightfully so. It's an amazing endeavor of dark death metal and should be in every metalhead's collection. But personally, I think the demo blows it out of the water. It's ironic, because "Slumber..." clearly has a lot more going for it. It has more songs, better production and was released on CD; but despite those things, there's still something missing. Part of it is the fact that out of the four songs on "Unholy Domain", only one ended up on the debut CD and it happened to be the instrumental track. Another thing missing is the beautifully disgusting presentation of it all. Yes, the musicianship on the album is stronger, but the demo sounds like it has more heart and spirit. It just sounds like Demigod rehearsed every song to perfection on the album before laying it down, losing some of the genuine atmosphere in the process. "Unholy Domain" might not be as tight musically, but the soul is definitely there.
As mentioned above, the opening instrumental "Perpetual Ascent" was re-recorded a year later for the debut on Drowned Productions; but the demo version actually sounds a little different. Here the song starts off with nothing but keyboards, and it takes about 30 seconds before the metal kicks in. In contrast, the CD version of "Perpetual Ascent" begins with drums, guitars and bass with the keyboards overtop, while the volume and heaviness gradually increases. This is the only part of the song that I have to say sounds better on the CD, along with the ending which is essentially recorded the same way other than the music fading into silence... This song is played pretty slow all the way through, with emphasis on the (unbelievably) heavy alternating riffs that take your mind through different sections of an unending maze. Immediately after the final riff, "Anxiety" opens and this is where the aggression appears. The fast thrash beats, shredding guitars and ghastly vocals cause your neck muscles to tear as you headbang profusely, while snapping and stomping Opeth records in the process.
The next song is "Reincarnation" and offers a little more breathing room after the massacre you just witnessed. This one is played in mid-tempo, focusing more on heaviness rather than aggression (much like the instrumental opener). This has got to be one of the best death metal songs ever written. It's no wonder Fleshcrawl covered it on their second LP (doing an excellent job by the way!). The chorus riff is just too good. I like that the vocalist only utters the word "Reincarnation" once in the whole chorus. Without hearing the song, you may think that's strange, but the way the riffs go make it sound absolutely perfect... "Succumb to Dark" is the final track. Again, Demigod speed things up. The drummer uses lots of cool double bass in that song and the guitarist shreds away with more brilliantly orchestrated death metal leads.
The production on this demo is very good. The drums and bass sound thick and flawless, while the guitars have that liquid, hypnotic tone to them much like Demilich, Lesch-Nyhan or the first Crematory (Swe) demo. Just hearing it sends goosebumps down your spine and makes you want to go out and behead every In Flames fan in sight. The vocals sound like they were recorded in a moldy crypt and continually put the listener into a dark, inhuman trance.
If there's one demo tape you'll hear in your lifetime, make it this one.
For those of you that love your death metal raw and garage like sounding, you will adore this demo. The songs on this demo are crushing death metal, the kind where you cant help yourself and start to headbang furiosly. The intro makes way to a brutal song that reminds me alot of Asphyx, its called "Anxiety" very raw sounding, with simple but catchy riffs. The drumming on that song is extremly fast and just backs up the band in a perfect way.
The second song is "Reincarnation", and for some reason it sounded to me like it had a Sepultura "Beneath the Remians" sound to it. Again we here the riffs backed up by the fast passed drumming, the snare sounds so great and the drummer pounds on it hard! The last song is "Succumb to Dark" and is not very different from the other two songs. The three songs have a guitar tone that is "fuzzy" and make the songs sound similar, but believe me, thats not a bad thing, these guys really shred their instruments and make great death metal.
If you are into technical death metal or clear production and that stuff, then you might want to stay away from this, on the other hand if you are into Pungent Stench's early albums, Asphyx or Unleashed you will worship this band.