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Proggy Yet Not Too Proggy - 86%

TheStormIRide, December 19th, 2018

France has always had a very strong but vastly underappreciated metal scene. From the glorious gems of the traditional scene of the mid to late '80s to the oft-technically inspired death metal scene of the mid '90s, it seems that only decades later are some of these bands getting the credit they deserve. Dementia is one such band that never really took off outside of small circles, despite being active for the better part of the '90s. The band's debut full length, In Core of the Dark Ages, was released in 1996 through the now defunct Thunder Productions.

Given when this album was released, it's really hard to shy away from comparisons to the giants of that era. Indeed, my brain constantly picks up bits and pieces of Death and Atheist and Cynic, but to simply write off Dementia as a clone is both misleading and an injustice to the band because I find this much more engaging and listenable than what any of those others were doing at the time. For the most part Dementia delivers a mid-paced death metal album with synthy keys in the background and the occasional proggy flourish of lead guitar work, bolstered by technical musicianship and flowing songwriting.

All of the instrumentation is solid, yet the band refrains from sounding clinical. The first minute of “When Two Demons Have Pleasure” shows the band's surgical technicality, yet it sounds organically aggressive like an emotional outpouring of anger. This is probably because of the seamless interplay between the constantly shifting, thrashing death metal riffs that comprise the rhythm guitars and the soaring, somewhat proggy leads take equal footing across the album. Basically, Dementia focused on riffs first and progressive/technical stuff second, which is probably why I find this so much more enjoyable than the previously mentioned bands in the style.

This is just a really enjoyable chunk of proggy death metal. It's technically proficient without sounding like it was composed by four dudes with degrees in quantum physics. The spacey synths, flowing bass lines, and deep growled vocals add a nice touch, but the standout here is the dual guitar work that balances technicality and aggression. In Core of the Dark Ages seems to be one of those rare progressive(ish) death metal albums that people who don't usually like progressive death metal should enjoy. Take it from someone who usually hates progressive death metal.