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Demon Burger - 10%

Woolie_Wool, September 23rd, 2006

I put off revisiting this review for a really, really long time, because rewriting it to reflect my current opinion on Death Cult Armageddon entails actually listening to Death Cult Armageddon again, an activity about as entertaining as getting one of those frame things that doctors put on people going into brain surgery bolted to my head, working as a substitute teacher for a class of preschoolers with special needs, or playing I Wanna Be The Guy on the hardest difficulty setting. It's not even entertainingly awful, it's just tedious as hell, draining your soul more and more with every shitty thrash-lite riff and airy-fairy "epic" orchestral embellishment.

The "Demon Burger" nickname that I borrowed from comedy site Ruthless Reviews is probably far more apt than the RR writers ever imagined. This is the Burger King of extreme metal--low-quality, slapdashed, loaded with fat and fillers, made of God only knows what unnatural substances, and wrapped in slick packaging to patch over the gaping hole where their integrity would normally be. Anything that might constitute flavor or character (and thus alienate some sector of the faceless masses) is ruthlessly expunged, leaving a safe, homogenous mass of anonymous, soulless blackened death thrash groove industrial symphonic generi-metal.

This record has way too many ideas everywhere, most of which are terrible. The riffs are mostly cheap imitations of extreme thrash, probably the cheapest ever put to tape--imagine riffs that are to modern Iced Earth riffs what modern Iced Earth riffs are to real thrash metal. They're honestly that bad. The rest are divided among chugga-stop-chugga-stop groove riffs that scream "heavy" to teenagers wearing studded belts and sing-songy, sugary-sweet passages that follow the mincing sweep of the orchestra like a starving puppy trailing its master. Then there's the aforementioned orchestra, which sounds like the sort of imitation John Williams crapola that you'd hear in a Sci-Fi Channel "original movie", and clangy synth noises that I guess are "industrial" or something, and the dopey spoken word samples much beloved of kiddies who like to sound "profound".

The little bloody cherry on top of this shit sundae is definitely the drums, a never-ending, incredibly loud clatter that barely manages to stay on time. Like many extreme metal drummers, Nick Barker thinks that getting in more drum beats somehow makes him "technical" and "brutal", so therefore he takes standard 4/4 beats and tom rolls and subdivides them unto infinity. The resulting racket of clicking triggered bass drums, thumpy bass-heavy toms, and plastic bucket snares is enough to make my ears physically hurt after fifteen minutes when paired with the Nevermore-ish noise-blaster guitar tone, even at low volume. There's allegedly a bass somewhere in this album, but I'll have to take their word for it because I sure as hell can't find it.

Frontman Shagrath is the 20-pound yappy dog of metal, posturing and scowling and trying his damnedest to be threatening, but cannot hope to disguise his total harmlessness. He wasn't scary when he first took lead vocals on Stormblast 14 years ago, and he's even less so now. His voice by this album's recording had deteriorated so much that he literally sounds just like a Dalek. As if to drive home the point, he is joined by Abbath of Immortal in a croaking robot duet for "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse", and it is hard to tell them apart. It doesn't help that they're both so clear and intelligible that you can make out every word of their awful, awful, terrible lyrics.

One wonders why second guitarist Galder and bassist Vortex are even in this band, because one guitarist alone could pull off all of the material on this album with no difficulty (no solos, no dual leads, no harmonies, just power chord garbage from start to finish) and there isn't even a trace of bass guitar to be heard. Vortex does have an excellent singing voice (and he's even more welcome because the guitars back off during his two singing spots, providing some respite from the nonstop ear canal sodomy), but he uses it for a grand total of about one minute on the whole album. Although, in a way, one can't really blame him for wasting his time in this band. Getting paid (and laid, for that matter) for doing nothing has got to be a sweet gig. Hell, I certainly wish I could get paid for doing nothing.

If I had to pick out a couple songs that are somewhat less godawful than the others, "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" comes to mind first, both because the orchestra actually plays something slightly memorable for a main theme, and because Vortex sings in it. That said, it has the same Z-grade chugga-chugga riffage as the rest of the album and the lyrics are entirely composed of a string of hackneyed phrases and cliches stuck together. I mean this in the most literal sense; look them up yourself and see. Other than that, opener "Allegiance" has a pretty cool arpeggio riff near the end. One good riff. On the whole fucking album. Certain editions of this album (there are a ton of editions, as befits Nuclear Blast's cynical cash-grab policy of using bonus materials as revenue-enhancing devices) have a Bathory cover ("Satan My Master") that the band absolutely massacres. It's terrible. If you played it to Quorthon's body his dead heart would probably beat again just to have another heart attack.

This album spits in the face of pioneering extreme metal artists like Bathory, Sodom, Possessed, and Death, taking their work that was meant to take metal higher, further, faster, and darker than any music had ever been before, and diluting it back down into a safe, inoffensive product for teenage consumers, a fucking Demon Burger to be dispensed out of drive-through windows by apathetic clerks making seven dollars an hour. It's greasy, it's devoid of nutrition, and consuming it for extended periods will damage your health. Artistic death, one bite at a time. Bon appetit.