Every now and then a release comes out of nowhere without the intention of becoming something worthwhile. Nowadays, demos are just bland versions of what we want to hear, and riffs and songwriting hides behind a poor mix. Demeter’s ‘Blight’, while a demo, is a gift that keeps on giving.
Consisting of members from Soothsayer, Slugbait and Dominus, Demeter are a four piece black metal band from my native Cork, Ireland. I first saw them support Soothsayer a few months back, then they opened the Urban Assault all day metal festival in Cork last February. While the band is only recently formed, all it’s members are seasoned musicians, and there is a certain no bullshit attitude when it comes to both music and performance. We all love to see a bit of the over the top costumes and corpse paint with stereotypical songwriting, but it seems to me there’s a genuine passion for black metal in the group, so much so it reminds me of the way a band like Darkthrone go about creating music.
The demo consists of four tracks, and goes for about 18 minutes. Despite being a demo, the mix is on the clean side of raw, in a sense that it has been produced and tampered with. Don’t expect ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ tier rawness, but do expect a suitable sounding production. The guitars are double tracked, as are the vocals, which have some wet reverb to them at times. You’re most certainly not listening to a rehearsal. This is what I like about the release though, it rarely does feel like a demo and is well crafted.
In terms of music, it’s far from typical blast beat black metal. Demeter are not afraid to throw in riffs and use dynamics to create song structures that we rarely see in the genre anymore. The opening track, “Within the Sphere” starts with a traditional blast beat riff, but the guitar and bass create the dynamics in that they venture between octaves. Shortly after we get a, what I would call tasty, riff that has a certain groove to it when the bass and drums return in with a laid back beat. Hughes’ vocals are evil sounding and add to the atmosphere of the tune, however there is still a sense of attitude in the riffs.
The next track, “Rust and Ruin” starts with a haunting bassline which is followed by jazz-like chords and a simple drum beat, before erupting into an aggressive and screeching riff, before it moves into a very post-black metal styled riff. This song feels like a cycle that gets more terrifying every time it restarts. Past the halfway mark of this song is by far one of my favourite riffs on the demo. There is a certain catchiness to it as well as some emotion, adding to my love of the songwriting approach that the band takes.
“The Lizard Cave” has what you would expect, riffs and atmosphere. While the other songs have a good focus on the guitars and such, I find this song has the most on the vocals, as the riffs aren’t as concentrated on. As well as that, it genuinely sounds like something you would hear within a cave of reptiles. The final song, entitled “The Shroud”, is up there with the second track for me. I get early Taake feelings from the opening riff, and furthermore with the coming riffs, sounding very like Darkthrone’s love for crust punk, as it has a traditional headbanging feel to it.
The four tracks offer a lot, despite not being too overly complicated. Instead they are rich with good songwriting with both evil and traditional black metal styled riffs. The band do not lean towards the wall of noise approach of constant tremolo picking and blast beats. Bass player Patrick Gillen is not afraid to throw fills in nor follow his guitar player Ollie O’Shea’s menacing yet emotional melodies. Drummer Eoin Costello adds to the dynamics, varying from laid back beats to blast beats while not making everything overly complex, something Fenriz himself would enjoy. Finally, vocalist Liam Hughes gives his all as per usual, bringing the human touch to the songs with both a great use of highs and lows as well as angry and painful sounding screams.
For a demo, ‘Blight’ is a great piece and has us looking forward to what the band will conjure up next. It brings a freshness to today’s black metal but compliments the old ways of the second wave. The songs have a high replay ability and are certainly catchy and worthy of a headbang, you’ll be leaving the venue with the riffs in stuck in your head.
Verdict: For a demo, it is highly rated in my book, if I described your black metal, look no further. In my eyes, it’s 82%.
Highlights: “Rust and Ruin”, “The Shroud”
You may also like: Darkthrone, Taake, Molde