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If you’re new to harsh vocals, that would be your general impression of Demilich’s Nespithe. Indeed, these are some of the weirdest vocals in all of metal. What some people tend not to notice, however, is that this is generally some of the weirdest music in all of metal. Luckily, that’s what happens to make this so undeniably awesome in every way.
What we have here is simply the best Finnish death metal album that will ever be written, and possibly one of the best death metal albums in general. Yes, Nespithe is just that great. As usual for Finndeath, “that tone” is present. The interesting thing about it here is that it’s not muddy like it is on many Finndeath albums. Instead, it’s very clear, and that clarity makes every other instrument on the album that much more audible and discernible from each other. For most Finndeath, that really isn’t necessary. It may be great, but old school death metal tends to not be on the more technical side of things. Well, Demilich kindly objected to that generalization, and created a highly dissonant album with convoluted song structures and an atmosphere that is unlike anything in death metal. The clear guitar sound, and the excellent production in general, lets everything be heard down to the last detail.
It’s odd to find that the atmosphere on any album can be most defined by the vocals, but this is certainly the case here. It’s hard to describe, but the vocals here are just other-worldly. This literally feels like the croakings of a monster from an extra-dimensional dystopian wasteland. Ok, now I got my excessively descriptive sentence out of the way. Seriously, though, the vocals here are literally the most unique vocals in all of metal. I don’t even know if anyone else can even get anywhere close to replicating this. The members of Demilich claim that there were no effects used on the vocals while recording Nespithe, and since no evidence is known to the contrary, I think we have to take them on their word for now. Hopefully this is the case, because a performance this unorthodox being made naturally be a human being is an awesome thought.
The guitarwork here is some of the best in all of death metal. The riffs here are dissonant, yet also fucking catchy. Seriously, this may seem inaccessible at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll realize how fucking catchy these riffs are! The song structures are always progressing, so riffs never become stale, but the transitions from riff to riff are executed incredibly well. If anything, the transitions are one of the most important factors that accentuate the catchiness of each riff. Yet what also makes these riffs so great is how well they work in conjunction with the drums. The drum rhythms alternate from simple to unorthodox with ease, and each of these percussive rhythms work incredibly well with each riff to further emphasize the off-kilter rhythmic structures that Demilich emphasizes. An interesting thing about the drum rhythms here is that there are very few blastbeats, and when they’re used, it’s for very short periods of time. If you ask me, that is probably best for Demilich’s brand of death metal, because it leaves room for the vocals and guitars, and gives the percussion a change to support the music in more ways than just “being brutal.” Hell, this isn’t even a brutal album at all. It sticks to the same pace for pretty much the entire running time, yet manages to stay interesting throughout. As much as I love my evil, brutal, and relentlessly heavy death metal, I have a lot of respect for bands that put atmosphere over brutality and create albums that far surpass almost every other album in terms of general quality.
Overall, what we have here is an amazing piece of classic Finnish death metal. This is easily a “top five” death metal album of all time for me, and there’s really no reason why anyone shouldn’t like it. If you’ve gotten past your “I hate harsh vocals” stage of n00b-dom as a metal fan, then this really isn’t as inaccessible as some make it out to be. Sure, the vocals are incredibly guttural, but they’re not oppressive guttural or painful to listen to. I actually find them to be quite soothing. Musically, this is one of the more adventurous death metal albums, and for its atmosphere alone, you should check it out. Luckily, Demilich have it on their website for free download, both in VBR~224kbps quality mp3 and FLAC formats. Go download this classic now!
Written for http://thenumberoftheblog.com/