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Sounds like a Medieval Demon - 80%

we hope you die, March 16th, 2021

For those unfamiliar with this veteran Greek act, close your eyes and imagine what a black metal band called Medieval Demon would sound like, that’s what Medieval Demon sound like. Rather than take the ancient mysticism and dignified heavy metal leanings of Varathron or Rotting Christ, Medieval Demon are more like Greece’s answer to Cradle of Filth, or maybe more accurately Gehenna. Like a decent Hammer Horror film, they are classy and cheesy in equal measure, but so committed to the moment and unconcerned with subtlety that one cannot fault the end result. They are presenting a particular style of melodramatic, gothic infused black metal unapologetically and with ease, if it’s not your tipple then best to give this one a miss.

Their latest album ‘Arcadian Witchcraft’ is a game of two halves. The first is simply applying a new lick of paint to this well-worn style. The other is reconnecting this music with the more cerebral elements of melodic black metal perfected by their fellow Greek’s. The production is pretty polished, with a guitar tone that would be at home on any mainstream metal release. Keyboards – an integral part of the Medieval Demon formula – are generally rich and deep in overall presentation, with only the hammy church organ tone betraying the whimsical side to this unselfconsciously gothic black metal. Vocals are clear yet deep, pivoting on a vampiric narration through the music that is both measured yet able to meet the theatrical demands placed on it by the music.

As mentioned, there is a dual function to ‘Arcadian Witchcraft’. One is simply a reappraisal of gothic black metal. Medieval Demon apply a marked degree of musicality, multi-layered compositions, and undeniable technical ability to this well-worn style, resulting in rich compositions played with conviction that – despite their familiarity – one cannot help but praise. But as the album evolves, they work in increasingly pronounced elements of more straight edge black metal with a strong melodic core. The transition is gradual, so the work in its entirety does not feel disjointed. In one respect it feels like a brief whistle stop tour of European black metal. From the opening stylings of Gehenna or Mortuary Drape, through Dimmu Borgir circa ‘Enthrone Darkness Triumphant’, elements of early Emperor, until we eventually find ourselves in classically Hellenic territory with epic, soaring riffs, keyboards abandoning the organ sounds in favour of elegant strings, and the vocals more than meeting the levity demanded by the moment.

It’s an interesting experience, one that is simply packed with musical nutrition to keep one interested along the way. There’s something compelling about how the layers of playful occult metal are gradually pealed back in favour of sparse tremolo picked riffs and extended blast-beats. Whether this evolutionary structure to the album was intentional or undertaken subconsciously on the part of the musicians is anyone’s guess, but it comes across as too deliberate to be otherwise. It also leaves one revelling in sublime anticipation for what this outfit will do next during what has been one of the more welcome reformations of the last decade or so.

Originally published at Hate Meditations