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The many corridors of sonic exploration - 95%

we hope you die, January 12th, 2021

‘So it Goes’ – the second LP from Chile’s Demoniac – is an unexpectedly bizarre concoction of ideas for the proudly limiting realm of blackened thrash metal. It’s true that a good chunk of this album is made up of down the middle thrash riffs and the tight, high speed pummellings we’ve come to expect of South American acts in this field over the years Slaughtbbath anyone?). But this most generic of frameworks is supplemented by a number of…unusual creative choices; some subtly blended into the metal onslaught, not least the distinctive melodic core found in a lot of these riffs, others dancing naked in front of us as found on the Sigh-meets-Necromantia track ‘Extraviado’.

There’s not much to note on the mix besides the clarity. Demoniac are keen to exhibit not just their technical prowess but also the length and breadth of different influences they work into their music; a dirty, old school garage mix would not suffice to fully showcase these layers. Guitars are clear, crisp and tight, with solos jumping out and positioned front and centre, and never a beat missed or buried in the mix for the sake of unnecessary reverb or cavernous distortion. Drums likewise are given little rendering beyond ensuring their complete clarity before the listener. The toms are not covered in echoey, throbbing reverb that would completely wash out the mix with each fill and roll. Just a solid, relentless rhythmic drive. Vocals stick with very traditional 80s thrash stylings, calling to mind the Teutonic school or Death Angel’s ‘The Ultra-Violence’ for its melding of clarity and aggression.

And it’s true that a lot of riffs on here hark back to Kreator or even Coroner of the 1980s, but with a more pronounced sense of melodic development worked into the rhythm guitars as well as the solos. But this is supplemented, indeed elevated, by Demoniac’s mastery of neoclassical techniques showcased in many of the guitar solos. The positioning of said solos front and centre in these compositions – along with their epic scope and highly structured, non-improvisational nature – brings this album dangerously close to power metal’s borders, but in the more serious environment of ‘So it Goes’ this lead guitar work finds new maturity thanks to the competent and sophisticated thrash metal setting. This patient marriage of technique and virtuosity with focused composition finds its fruition on the epic closing title track, which stretches to twenty minutes of progressive thrash metal that grants each musician a chance to shine whilst retaining a degree of focus and purpose that runs to the very foundations of the entire piece.

From one angle, this impressive mastery of technical thrash metal could be viewed as a hitting of the reset button on the genre, as opposed to revolutionising it. This is with the exception of the aforementioned ‘Extraviado’, which is a proggy experimental piece featuring a clarinet (an instrument that also makes another appearance on the title track two thirds of the way through), which drags thrash metal well and truly out of its comfort zone. But these more out-there meanderings are never overplayed, they never completely destroy the momentum of each piece, but rather allow Demoniac to force this music forward through new barriers and intriguing corridors of sonic exploration.

Like any style of metal, thrash has been open to self-indulgent abuse in recent years, on top of its well documented relationship with stylistic stagnation. In the case of thrash, particularly an album like ‘So it Goes’, that sheds the blackened elements in favour of a bouncy, clearer approach; the lurking spectre of Municipal Waste and pizza thrash over more serious examples of this style cannot be ignored. But Demoniac, with singularity of purpose and undeniable talent, side step these pitfalls whilst sharing a lot of the same territory; for the simple reason that nothing seems to stand in the way of their determination to push the boundaries of their musicianship and compositional capacity. The historic influences they reference in the lead guitar work, the rigid and balanced riffcraft, the diversions into overt experimentation; all this is achieved without sacrificing the momentum and direction of each piece. This album transcends mere ‘quirky thrash’, and becomes a work bursting with music that retains an impressive degree of focus; a highly rewarding slab of progressive metal.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

Let’s outstandingly thrash… and jazz! - 94%

Tony Blackthrasher, December 14th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Edged Circle Productions (Bandcamp)

Thrash is often considered a very predictable, generic and un-ambitious genre. And I have to admit, that for some part of the modern creations (not all of them), it’s definitely true. There are also beliefs, that thrash music doesn’t like to be progressive very much and doesn’t like being experimented with. For some bands (mostly in the blackened thrash scene) there is also a problem of them playing the exactly same style as the veterans of the genre did in the 80s. In this review, I’ll present you an album that doesn’t have any of these problems, that proves the presented theses wrong, and that is a real and outstanding refreshment to the genre. Please welcome Chilean Demoniac and their second record So It Goes, that consists of blackened, technical and experimental thrash metal with a jazz inspiration and elements of… clarinet, upright bass and piano(!). A thrash album with a title track that lasts almost 20 minutes.

On So It Goes, Demoniac reached a golden mean that only few bands in the genre are able to reach: it’s audible that the music is definitely inspired by the classic bands from the 80s, but it’s also really modern, creative, fresh and its sound is very characteristic. The record starts very straightforwardly in the song RSV - Fools Coincidence - Testigo. But don’t let this straightforwardness confuse you. The album is not overly straightforward as a whole. It’s diverse and well-balanced. The opening song itself is an epic and entertaining journey, that (as the title suggests) consists of three different parts. The first part’s name can be developed to “Rage, speed and violence”. It’s an old-school thrash slaughterhouse, that also has many modern elements. The album is like a fight between two egos of Demoniac: a rebellious, youthful and angry one and a serious, mature and calm one. In RSV - Fools Coincidence - Testigo dominates the first one, but both are present. RSV that in the lyrics states “Brusque / Evil mind / Disturbing presence / Aggressive metal” from its extreme speed and cruelty goes into an amazingly impressive and catchy solo, that comes back later on. As there are two egos here, there are also two languages in the lyrics: English and the band's native language, Spanish. This adds to the originality and creates a characteristic atmosphere. First two parts of the opening song are in English, and the last one is in Spanish.

Inspiration wise, this music is also original, as it combines both Teutonic and American thrash metal. Big parts of the songs remind of early Destruction and Kreator, but some moments and the overall sound and guitar tones are similar to bands like Annihilator and Megadeth. Demoniac took the styles of these bands, added their own magic to them and made them more progressive. The most Annihilator-like song is the second one, The Trap. The song starts with a scary sounding piano, it’s the shortest one on the record and it stands out with the creativity in its riffs and very impressively played rhythm section. Speaking about the rhythm section, I’m delighted with the sound and technique of bass and drums playing. In many parts, bass guitar is far from repeating what guitars are playing and has its own, necessary lines. Worth noting is also the “blackened” character of the music. It’s hard to call the music on the album straight blackened thrash, but the element of black metal techniques and atmosphere is definitely present. The vocals are harsh, there’s some tremolo in the riffs, and there are blast beats here and there. It’s not very surprising, as the vocalist/guitarist plays in a black metal band himself. But what makes So It Goes especially outstanding in the thrash metal genre is… the jazz inspiration! On two of the songs on the album, there was clarinet used and probably also upright bass. These two songs are Extraviado and the title track. Extraviado was the biggest surprise for me during the first spin, because it’s actually… a jazz song with thrash elements! It’s maintained in a calm, peaceful, but intriguing atmosphere, with clarinet playing the main role. This peace is being disturbed from time to time by a… noisy, crunchy, massive and savage guitar riff. Later this riff is joining the rest of the instruments and leads the sound. And you know what? It works very well! Making such a composition was extremely risky, but Demoniac managed to get out of it unscathed and create an original and refreshing sound. An ugly and beautiful sound at the same time.

The album consists of only five tracks, so judging only by this number, one could think that it’s more of an EP than a full-length. But it wouldn’t be true, not only because the first track contains actually three songs, but mostly because the title track lasts almost 20 minutes! It’s a journey itself and it’s built with many different motives, cleverly composed with each other. During listening, one experiences many tempo and mood changes, melodic and catchy solos and, in the middle, “jazz section”. Surprisingly, big part of the song is maintained in a very fast tempo, but still the song is as long as it is and as progressive as it is. Tell me, how many this long thrash metal songs do you know? And how many of them are this consistent? That’s what I thought. This fact itself proves that it’s an outstanding release. The song and the whole album seem perfectly planned and thoughtful. There are only a few parts that I would change and which suit less the rest for me. The lyrics on the record can be described similarly to the music - on one hand, they are typical to thrash, they are straightforwardly about metal or refer to human weakness. On the other, they have some themes that aren’t very common in this genre, like reflections on life.

On their new album, Demoniac took strong inspirations from the classic 80s thrash metal bands including Destruction, Kreator, Annihilator and Megadeth, but still created everything in their own, progressive, modern and refreshing way. They took many risky moves in composing this material, as adding jazz elements and the use of clarinet, but didn’t fail in any. So It Goes is one of the best and most original releases in the genre this year. It proves that the modern Chilean blackened thrash scene is very promising and definitely worth following.

Originally written for Tony Blackthrasher on Instagram and Facebook and The Metal Observer.