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And I Thought Behemoth was Funny... - 0%

doomknocker, May 22nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Osmose Productions

It’s become historical fact that even the best and most beloved of metal acts have plenty of early day skeletons in their closets I’m sure they’d love to keep ignored, but here in the age of the digital everything even the most obscure of works are unearthed and forever engraved. Every once and again you’ll find some gold within the mold, but beyond that those roots are best left in the ground where they belong. Enter DragonForce, the patron saints of Pro Tools Wankery Bullshit who, much to my surprise, started out as a nondescript black metal entity known as Demoniac. Having never heard the entry-level albums they’d put out (or the band in general, for that matter), I just had to see how this group of noisy misfits handled a genre pretty damned far removed from bouncy power metal/shred...

Holy fucking ungod is this a complete and utter disaster in every single possible way, and worse than that is its capacity to make me giggle like a humored child at its retarded methodology. Much like Behemoth post-“Satanica”, this is something that tries so hard to be intense, offensive and dangerous that it instead comes off as harmless and, well...cute. You just kinda cock your head to the side with a soft smile as they bang their wares willy-nilly with no cohesion and sense of self beyond trying to piss you off with the appeal of an angsty high schooler having a meltdown. That’s what it sounds like to me, anyway. It was my mistake to pick the one album of theirs that’s not straight-and-narrow black metal but is, instead, sprightly flower metal not all that dissimilar from where the guys would go as DragonForce, only with black metal vocals thrown in there because why not? And let me tell you, the whole affair made for one of the worst albums I’d ever heard in my life. Every single thing about this screams ”wrong!” at high-ranging volumes. Much like DF, the level of songwriting is unbelievably uninspired and bland (one of the lesser qualities of power metal, sad to say) and only serves as padding and filler to keep everything moving until the ungodly solos kick in, proof positive that, even back then, Totman and Li could hammer their fingers on the frets at light speed but couldn’t compose a song if they were held at gunpoint (a trait they brought with them to the ‘Force). I’d never heard a band sound so simultaneously happy and boring as this, so gleeful in their vanilla-flavored riffing and wild abandon lead work. What also makes this hilariously unbearable is the performance itself, which is all sorts of sloppy and unkempt, not exactly unlistenable but still so awful as to wonder if anything was edited in the first place. It’s much more noticeable in the background music more so than the soloing, which is a bit tighter than the rest of the group for what it’s worth, but all the same its manic dexterity makes it much harder to control when going for what sounds like a live recording, especially when put within the confines of the rest of the song itself.

Beyond that, the production approach is a jumbled mess of trebly drilling and blurry tape hiss that is BM to the bone...and if this was a straight-up BM release that would make sense, but when it’s used to make a power metal record it takes a lot of its glory and magic away and makes the listening experience all the more deplorably bad. The guitars are way too bright and sharp, the drumming too thin and rattly, and the bass is...somewhere in there? I guess? I couldn’t tell you, it’s so undermixed (again, with black metal it’s part of the norm, but with this...well, you get what I mean). But the worst offender in all this is the god-damned vocalist. His presence and voice aren’t demonic, evil, or ghastly in any way, and instead he comes off as a piss-headed tool screaming like an asshole for the sake of being as irritating as possible, and combined with the sunny musical disposition he sticks out like a Skrewdriver fan in a synagoge (I’ll dive further into that analogy in a bit). The first time I heard it I lost was so funny to hear this “dark” shit fronting something that sounds so happy-go-lucky, but the further in I went, every time this guy opened his gullet and continued to unleash those same abrasive shrieks, I was compelling to put a fist in my wall as his face isn’t here for me to do the same to it and I had to take something out. The vocals were bad, but the lyrical themes here are even worse; Demoniac/DragonHeart/Force were never the most poetic of groups, yet the lyrics here are far more idiotic than they’ve ever been (looking back, that is...), what with the Manowar-styled odes to metal, the disingenuous Satanic rhetoric and a continuation of the racist bullshit they toyed with before and still refuse to own up to. “Hitler metal”, really? In what way, and in what world, was that considered a good idea? Was this a case of using racism to piss people off when the anti-religious schtick didn’t work? Sometimes I wonder...

So in the end this didn’t need to exist, and I truly wish it didn’t. It made me laugh for all its out of control extremity, but it ‘s still among the worst albums I’d heard. It’s my hope that the DragonForcers look back on this little excursion into stylistic vacuum and shake their heads in shame and if not, they really should. There was no excuse for this, at all.

To crush and cause disaster. - 25%

Diamhea, February 21st, 2014

This is an offense against man and beast alike. While modern Dragonforce is lauded for their upbeat and optimistic lyrical themes along with their spirited leadwork, the band only appears to be able to pull half of said formula off as Demoniac. Totman and Li's performances still shine like a collective supernova, even with the pluggy, compressed production job and overall dearth of polish dragging the proceedings downward.

To be honest, The Fire and the Wind occupies an area so far under the belt that it can't be dragged much lower. The band tries so hard at being offensive and vulgar in a GG Allin sort of vein, but they obviously lack the lyrical vitriol, or hell -anything- that helped make Allin such a great anti-establishment figure. He may not have had much credibility as a musician, but he was eclectic in his output and completely devoted to the purity of the scene he occupied. Demoniac comes off as a parody of GG Allin's worst qualities, magnified by several orders of magnitude and pockmarked by subtle attempts at selling out.

On a strictly instrumental level, much of The Fire and the Wind falls in line with early Dragonforce material. The melodic flare is unmistakably here, and keen ears will recognize a number of familiar tails and hooks that have since become hallmarks of the Totman/Li duo. In fact, the higher level of restraint compared to the band's more recent odes-to-excess helps accentuate some of the more potent melodies and note progressions when they do finally come along. The hyperactive nature of modern Dragonforce demands that all ideas -good or bad- be scrapped immediately upon introduction lest the band exhibit anything approaching coherency. That abstruse rule hadn't been totally applied at this point, so there is a decent balancing act going on between the scattershot leadwork and thrashy rhythm section, forming a solid power metal foundation that just needs a set of throaty pipes to elevate everything to the next level.

So what does Demoniac do? Hire the worst vocalist for the job in Lindsay Dawson. Not only are his inert black metal croaks ill-fitting on a melodic level, his lyrics are infantile, puerile, and at times unabashedly offensive. "Myths of Metal" attempts at introducing the new, arcane subgenre of "Hitler Metal". Yes, that is right, you have a band that includes an Asian male standing over you shouting the refrain of "Sieg Heil!" over an animated, bouncy riff set that sounds far too uplifting for the subject matter. New lows are reached near the end of the song, as Dawson shifts into a multi-layered guttural croak (it still sounds inert for some reason) and pleads "Baby come on, I want to make your body hot. Please let me nut, in the middle of the night!". Those last lyrics were not included in the booklet for some reason that totally eludes me, but the damage is still done. "Demoniac Spell" features some fresh and piping verses alongside a searing opening solo, but Dawson shows up just in time to spoil the whole batch yet again. The jejune lyrics in the verses sound so forced and insincere, almost like the band is sacrificing what little consistency is left in the subject matter in order to shoehorn in words that sound similar on a petty level like "lightning" and "fighting". It's almost as if Dawson wrote his lyrics using a children's picture book called Words That Rhyme but found the freebie nature of using gimme words like these was too addicting to control. "Demoniac Spell" rips off nearly every Motörhead trademark, but it seems like no band is truly safe, as Overkill's "Wrecking Crew" takes a kick to the gut in the form of "Wrecking Team" here. This song reminds me of those cheap bootleg action figures that call Transformers lame knock-off monikers like Robot Troop.

Demoniac can be extremely frustrating to listen to, as the skill of the musicians manages to surface no matter how tepid the surrounding performances are. The title track is a protracted bore on the most part, but the wah pedal-infused solo near the end almost salvages the entire song on it's own. "Demons of the Night" features a great lead during the chorus, but Dawson imperially croaking "We are the leaders of the Reich" neuters the potency of the entire ordeal. "Sons of the Master" is passable at first, but the heavy echo effect utilized on Dawson makes his blurting out of words like black, gas, and death all come off as faceless barking. Well faceless barking through fifty feet of drainage tube once the effects are accounted for, at least.

What humors me the most out of the entire Demoniac debacle is the fact that Dragonforce never really changed the core of their compositional style throughout the last eighteen or-so years. They may have played up the satanic slant here, or the power metal gimmick with the band as we know it, but the nature of Totman and Li's playing has never diverted much from it's initial point of impact. Ever notice how the band comes off as near-caricatures of the modern power metal scene? That is no mistake, nor were the vulgar antics being showcased here on The Fire and the Void. It is a strategic move on the band's part to divert attention away from the fact that they haven't evolved musically since their inception. Dragonforce just happened to be in the right place at the right time and hit it big, but no amount of money can make bad memories like this album ever truly go away.

Oh shit no! - 20%

Dasher10, May 11th, 2008

Many bands try to hide their past. Sometimes there are some real gems to be found like Children of Bodom's demos as IneartheD. However, most of the time you'll just find crap. Much like Pantera and White Zombie, DragonForce had much to be ashamed of.

Blackened power metal may sound good on paper, but it really fails once you hear it. The vocals are simply too harsh and the guitars are just too flowery for this music to have any type of impact on you. Both are deprived of force by their conflicting nature which make the entire album suck.

The fact that they clearly steal punk riffs doesn't help. The fact that they're from GG Allin just makes them all the more pitiful. At the same time, if you want to hear a punky DragonForce, you should stick to Shadow Warriors and leave this alone. The punk riffs aren't just blatantly stolen, but they're also completely intrusive and don't help the music at all.

The level of immaturity doesn't help either. First off, the album cover features their vocalist getting a BJ while drinking a beer and giving the finger to the camera. It's overall just a shitty album cover that truly lets the audience know how immature DragonForce was at this point in their career. It's one of the worst album covers that I've seen and it's attempt to be as metal as possible just makes me want to puke.

If you think that that's juvenile, then you have to read their lyrics. Children of Bodom and Sarcofago can get away with having shitty lyrics because they aren't from English speaking countries but Demoniac has absolutely no excuse. They're bad to the point where early Sodom's grammar makes more sense than Demoniac's which is just sad. When your lyrics are on par with Barbatos in terms of broken English, then you really need to take a good look at your singer and either fire him or slap some sense into him. This is pitiful.

Then there's the white supremacist lyrics don't work when you have an Asian guitarist in your band. It's blindly hypocritical to the point where it isn't creating any amount of shock and outrage and just makes Demoniac look like a bunch of fifteen-year-old kids rather than the morally depraved NSBMers that they masquerade as. NSBM is bad enough and we don't need low quality faux-NSBM polluting our ears. It really isn't all that funny, nor does it really shock and therefore it just sucks.

Please stay very far away from this album even if you are a total DragonForce fanboy. Your life will not be enhanced by it in any way and it's sadly catchy in the same way that Brittney Spears is, which means that it actually takes something away from you. The only good thing about this is the comedy factor but even that wears thin after only a few listens.

This entire album is just embarrassing and they should have changed their name and fired their singer after this. Oh wait, they did.

Ultimate Metal Album - 99%

Star-Gazer, July 16th, 2004

I think the title of this reviews sums it up well...this is the ultimate metal album! They stand for everything that is metal to me: tattoos, anger, bullet belts, long hair, fast cars, blatant irreverence, booze, black leather, satan, weapons, jeans, and a middle finger to everyone!

OK, enough of the image, onto the music. If all Demoniac had was the image, I would not be writing this review.

They kick off the album with one of many blistering solos by Shred on "The Eagle Spreads its Wings." Before the vocals kick in, they would lead you to believe that this is another power metal band. Far from, my son. Blackened, harsh vocals take the listener off guard. Typical (but brilliant) lyrics of freeing oneself from the oppression of societal chains are the lyrical content.

Next on the album is "Daggers and Ice." Once again, the listener would be lead to believe this is power metal (but with a healthy bit of thrash thrown in for good measure) based on the title and music until those wonderful vocals kick in. As if just to prove those amazing leads on the first song were no fluke, "Daggers and Ice" showcases more amazing guitar-work by both Heimdall and Shred. The interlude about 3/4 through the song is some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, and coupled with Behemoth's vocals it is a downright amazing piece of work.

"Demoniac Spell" follows. This could be their theme song. Some of the greatest metal lyrics ever were written for this song. I will not bother to repeat them as another reviewer made a point to include them, but suffice to say, these lyrics sum up the whole Demoniac philosophy on life. Metal before all else. Another great song with solos, fills, etc galore, excellent drumming, great lyrics, eeeevil vocals. You will succumb to the Demoniac Spell!

An instrumental entitled "Night Demons" is next. Placed well on the album, it is a great divider between the halves of the album.

The guitar-work on "Demons of the Night" (the song which, rightly so, follows "Night Demons") is another lesson in shredding. The melody and along with the guitarists trading off solos is so energizing.

A tribute to great German bands follows, "Myths of Metal." Not a stand-out song, but strong when compared to any other band's work. As a side note, this song contains lyrics which caused somewhat of a controversy. It was sad to see Demoniac give a sort of retraction. Duh, they aren't Nazis! Their lead guitarist is Chinese, the drummer is Maori, they have long freakin' hair and appear to be general messes. I don't think there is any goose-stepping and Roman saluting going on here!

"Sons of the Master" is another of the not so outstanding songs on the album (though the solos are something not to miss). Lyrics deal with satan, metal, anger, pain and the like. Great! Glad to see a sense of fuckin' humor in metal every once in awhile. Wish more people could just "get it."

All of the prior songs are just a build up to their masterwork, "The Fire and the Wind." Simply tear-jerking guitar work gets us started into this finale. Another great interlude takes us through the middle of this song. Going from Behemoth's vocals to this beautifully crafted interlude should be enough to make anyone sit back and appreciate all of the beauty and ugliness this world has to offer. After two minutes of beauty we are back to the riffing and soloing that makes me listen to this album over and over again. From the melody to 7:35 it seams as if it could get no better. Wrong. The guitar solos which end the song are beyond words.

So, that's the album.

While it is sad to see them no longer active (I've been a fan since "Prepare for War"), I think it was great they went out on such a high note.

Great (funny) metal pictures line the insert, not to mention the homage to both Motörhead and Manowar in the lyrics. For anyone (like me) who loves the music of power metal bands, but despises with a passion, the vocals, "The Fire and the Wind" is a must own.

I just wish they would have kept the original cover art - now that would have been metal!

Why Must I Be Subjected To This? - 7%

SnowVixen, June 17th, 2004

If there's anything I hate, it's when people intentionally misrepresent bands to convince me to listen to them. "They're like blackened power metal", he said, "you''ll love them!". That statement couldn't be further from the truth.

This album's overall sound is that of Children of Bodom's brand of melodeath, with perhaps a minor punk influence creeping in occasionally... much like Impaled Nazarene. This album got boring and predictable within the first two songs, and the vocalist trying his best to sound like the guy from Impaled Nazarene didn't help either.
This was strike one. The world doesn't need one Impaled Nazarene, let alone two.

Having heard Dragonforce before, I was rapidly able to note the similar "overly long songs with excessive solos that all sound the same" guitar style on this album, and was less than surprised when I found that this band is essentially the beta version of Dragonforce. I honestly dislike these guitarist's style, and it seems like they're trying their hardest to show off as many guitarists of the late 80's had done... but without the actual ability to do so.
When it hit me that this was Dragonforce with even more annoying vocals, my boredom turned to annoyance. This was strike two.

Once I reach a certain point of annoyance and the music has lost any merit it may have held, I either turn it off or start looking for something else to focus on. I started listening to the lyrics at this point... and god damn, are these lyrics the height of stupidity. Having no actual lyrical concept, this band mentions everything "bad"... from beating up faggots to being more metal than you to praising clovenhooved beasts all the way to the random cry of "HITLER METAL! SIEG HEIL!". I can understand the level of illiteracy shown by Children of Bodom and Impaled Nazarene, being from non-English speaking countries and all, but these guys have no excuse.
Now, being a fan of power metal, I don't exactly demand thought provoking lyrics, but they should try to stay out of the realm of mental retardation. As my brain processed the asinine bullshit this band was spouting, my annoyance peaked. This was strike three.

I can honestly find no positive aspects of this band to mention. At all. Yet another awful band in a horrible poppy genre hawking their boring, unoriginal and uninspired music. I'd rather listen to Yellowcard than this shit... at least Yellowcard know they're pop.