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Demo Reviews



Reviews from letters: F to J - K to O - P to T - U to Z

ABYSMAL FALL: "Spit In The Face Of Christ" Demo CD

Man, this is one of the good American Black Metal I've heard! I usually find American Black Metal to be corny and tasteless... But this one has some teeth! And they use 'em to bite and rip your flesh apart. The guitars are loud and well completed, sound-wise, by the bass, giving it a lot of meat around the bone and making them sound almost Death Metal-like, which always means that it sounds more powerful than most Black Metal bands, whom's guitars often sound too thin for my taste. The vocals are very sick, straight forward screaming and shouting, in the vein of the genre just different enough to make 'em particular. The songs very in styles, from the simpler, primitive riffing of Black Metal, to the lower, more powerful crunch of Death Metal, to some more traditional sounds of the Thrash Metal era. The songs are well arranged and supported by a snappy drums sound. The drumming, however, is not this band's strong point: Some of the parts are not very tight, if not at all... And the drumming passes are not always precise and on cue. While the music has a lot of interesting stuff to showcase, there are a few places that are not as complete and interesting as the rest... All in all, I think it is a killer debut with some room for improvement. Check them out!
S.B.
E-mail!
3½ out of 5

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ACTS MAGDALENA: Demo CD

I had never heard of this band before this and I can assure you that it is a nice discovery. They play some type of emotional Rock that sometimes really verges on the edge of Metal, but with mostly lots of dark ambiences, sombre sounds and, in some other parts, lighter moments that are almost ballads. But not much of this band has anything to do with "groovy" music. There are some pretty cool guitar work in there, which will vary from clean guitars to some heavier, distorted work. It is well completed by some synths work that sound like older hammon type of instrument. The bass plays a major part in the riffing, adding as much rhythms as it adds to the overall melodies. The drumming is pretty intense and has a nice level of technicality, adding some clever passes and bumps to the music. The drums also sound very good, clear and snappy! Now Christian's vocals have to be another strong point for this band; she manages to mix quite a few styles of singing in a very natural and flowing way. Her cleaner, gentler voice has a great mid-range overtone to it, making it a delightful voice with lots of emotion... Mostly sad emotions, which fits their music well. But she can also be pretty violent with her voice, singing in a very rough, almost Black Metal-type of mid-range growls that add a bit of odd brutality to a music that isn't really that much of a brutal affair. This is a nice, ironic contrast that I enjoyed very much. And then, they can be totally dreamy and delicate, such as in a track such as "Wasteland". Cool stuff! I like it! Dreamy, weird, original and, to a certain level, also heavy!
S.B.
E-mail!
4 out of 5

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ANESTHESY: "Let The Mayhem Begin" - Promo CD (Indie/Midas Productions)

Wow! Man, this is a very killer recording! I just discovered this band about an hour ago and I am already getting to listen to this CD for the next two hours, at least! Great technical Death Thrash is the deal here... But a thing that I really like a lot about this band is the fact that even if they do play a brand of pretty intricate and technical brutal Metal, they found a way to still incorporate elements and riffs that make this recording very rough, brutal, heavy as fuck and really intense. The guitars are very skilful and rotate the riffing from larger heavy riffs to more technical, noteful riffing. All of this is done in a way that flows well and make the songs stick together very well! The songs flows well and even if it's not the kind of album that you can clearly remember from the first listening, you will find that there are some good musical arrangements and that some of the riffing is pretty memorable and always very melodic. The bass does a very good job adding snap and depth to the rhythmics and the guitars. Very skilled playing there too! The drumming is very good, intense, sometimes very fast and quite technical. The playing is totally tight and intricate, adding a lot to the musics intensity. The drums sound pretty large and intense, very snappy! We can hear pretty much all the of drums' parts. The dual low and high pitch growlings are not the newest thing in town but they are still very good compared to so many other... I'd even say that they are a bit better than the majority of the Death growlers... This is without a doubt the best Death Metal band I've ever heard from Belgium! Get this!
S.B.
Band's e-mail!
Producer's e-mail!
4½ out of 5

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ARCHAEAN HARMONY: Demo CD 1999

Here is a Black Metal act with a lot of potential but also with lots of room for improvement. Their music holds its ground for originality and offers pretty much everything in the fields of emotional, atmospheric and symphonic Black Metal. But it's the execution and overall arrangement that really need the biggest improvements. Some of the material they write remind me of the Greek Gods SEPTIC FLESH... The guitars are pretty clean but lack a bit of heaviness. The riffing can vary from harder and higher chords to mostly noteful riffs and rotative heaviness. The solos are pretty interesting and skilled, but kind of chaotic, just as some of the riffing and arrangements are. There are some pretty cool and well thought stuff, but some parts are just too compressed and chaotic. The synthesizer are ok, but maybe a bit excessive in some parts. The vocals are not very original though; your usual Black Metal high pitch growls... Of course, as usual, I will have to say that the drum machine parts, which replace a real drummer, do suck... Both in the sound of it as in the playing/programming... Please guys, find a real drummer! The overall sound isn't so bad for a demo and they have the all the elements and potential to get a real good sound together... Just as the music itself. Like I said, they have most of the elements required to make a good Black Metal band... Now they just have to improve the arrangements and songwriting to make it more fluid and we'll have a definite winner in our hands! This, experience will most likely provide in the coming years.
S.B.
Web site!
E-mail!
2½ out of 5

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BLOODSHED: "Laughter Of Destruction" - MC Demo

Man, this is pure, sick, loveless evil Black Metal at its best... And also not at its best. What I mean is that their music is right there, containing all of those elements that Black Metal is all about: Energy, aggressiveness, sickness, hatred, brutality, fucking ultra blasting speed, etc. But at the same time, while they do a few things that are of their own, a lot of this music can't really be called totally original since it has been done a few million ties already. There are a few elements from Death Metal that will also pop up here and there, but the basis of this band is rooted in primitive Black Metal, no doubt about that! The guitars are a bit razor like and may need a bit more heaviness in the bottom... Most riffs are done in the higher key with large chords... The usual... Well done, but over done. The bass is almost absent... as usual... And the vocals are the usual high pitch screams and growls... as usual... You see my point! This is great Metal played very tight and with conviction, but there is not much in here that will make it totally unique. The drums are a bit low in the mix but are, for the most part, real brutal, tight and intense. However, I can't really hear all the details from the drums because the sound is not very clear and the drums get lost behind the guitars and vocals quite easily. All in all, this is a promising demo but some work has to be done to bring this band to the other level.
S.B.
Web site!
E-mail!
3 out of 5

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BLOODY GORE: "Stench Of Your Perversions" - Demo 1999

This band hails from Jakarta, Indonesia. It seems like the Indonesians are into extreme shit because everything I've heard from that country plays gore Grind Crust type of stuff... Well, anti music at its best here! They actually are pretty decent musicians and I guess NAPALM DEATH were as bad when they started up, so... Who knows? Not my cup of tea but if you are a sicko into old AGATHOCLES, NAPALM DEATH's "Scum" era or others in that particular musical expression, check it out...
R.C.
E-mail!
2 out of 5

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CURSED: "And Then Came The Dark Breed" - Demo MC

This is another one of those weak second rate Black Metal bands. There is, however, some interesting moments where the melodies are pretty interesting but most of this recording remains unnoticeable and quite ordinary. The guitars sound muddy and not very defined, nor very heavy. The riffing is very basic and pretty cliché, using the same old formula of all the other Black/Thrash Metal bands off this cursed planet. But like I said, there are a few places where there riffs stands a bit more out than the rest, but this is too little, too late. The drumming really sucks here. This guys should learn how to play it well before trying to put it on a recording; his drumming is unskilled and extremely untight... The toms passes are a joke. the drums sound very dry and not well defined, but it is still almost decent. The vocals are the same old usual Black Metal mid-high range growls... All in all, nothing new to interest our overflowed minds. Therefore, I'd recommend you to look for something more challenging for the soul than this.
S.B.
CURSED, c/o Ludovic Harle, 15 rue Achille Hibon, 62 540 Lozinghem, France.
1 out of 5

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ENRAGED: Promo MCD (Indie)

This is a Power Thrash Metal quartet that plays a brand of music that reminds me somewhat of the French technical Thrash DROYS but not as intricate and technical as the French combo. ENRAGED's music is pretty rough and intense but also puts a big emphasis on melodies mixed with crunchy riffs. The guitars are pretty heavy and offers a good work out of Metal riffing with the rotative stuff mixed the more power chords. But most of the riffs are in the faster rotative Thrash-like category. The guitars sound a bit dry but its pretty minor... The guitars still sound very heavy. They just lack a bit of breathing room. The bass does the job of supporting the rhythmics, well over-shadowed by the guitars. The drums are really flat and could use some more snap into it. The playing is mostly pretty good, although there are a few places where the guitars and the drums do not punch together, slightly untight... But nothing major there too. The playing is mostly simple and to the point. The vocals are pretty cool! I like the rough edge throaty stuff Kevin Heath does... It reminds me of something but I just can't put my finger on it... Some sort of a brutal singing, where he does get some notes in there but still does scream them very intensively! I like it. The overall sound is pretty decent for a demo and I suspect that such a band may get some very intense recording out with a decent budget. There are still some things that need to be improved in there but the roots for a solid Thrash band are well planted. Let's see what they will have to offer next!
S.B.
E-mail!
3 out of 5

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Reviews from letters: A to E - K to O - P to T - U to Z

FAST OFFENSIVE: Demo

This is a very straight forward, let's party type of Hardcore band with some pretty rough screamed vocals, completed by some not-as-good cleaner, happy OFFSPRING-type singing. Most of the songs definitively remind of old Hardcore, with a bit of the aggressiveness of Speed Metal in the backdrop. But some of it also has a bit of the happy Punk stuff, which I don't like as much. However, I would have to say that the faster, angrier Hardcore is what this cassette is mostly all about. The drumming is pretty intense with mid-fast tempos that will get you slamming all night long. The drums sound pretty rough and plain, the kind of sound you would get in the rehearsal place. The guitars are a bit razor like but still heavy... But not always on cue... The overall sound is certainly bellow average by today's standards but it is still pretty clean and pounding enough to make a a decent Hardcore demo... Worth checking out!
S.B.
FAST OFFENSIVE, 63 de la Montagne, Rougemont, Québec, Canada, J0L 1M0.
3 out of 5

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FLESHMOULD: "Promo" - MCD (Indie)

I've never heard so many good bands coming out from Belgium as I've heard in the last six months! And FLESHMOULD is just the latest arrival off this list! They play a brand of very, very rough Power Metal that has just a little hint of Industrial sound here and there... But that's really a hint, since their music has nothing to do with the likes of FEAR FACTORY and co. You know, it's not obvious to write original stuff after well over twenty years of Hard Rock/Metal being played by countless artists. So what it takes to be original can sometimes be just a bit more subtle than anything else. This is what FLESHMOULD has: This little je ne sais quoi that makes their otherwise pretty ordinary Metal to the other level, where you can say; "Wow, they really got their shit together!" The way the songs are arranged, the overall sound, the song writing itself, all of it makes it special. The guitars are heavy as hell, with some crunchy riffing and that varies from Thrashy rotative picking to some much more powerful, SLAYERish nightmare to some intense power chords. The guitars themselves almost serve the whole recording's purpose with its great heaviness and attack. The bass are a bit shy, doing the job without flashy stunts. The drums sound a bit dry, kind of like a Live sound. The pieces of the drums are all clear though and the drummer Jurgen Dewaele does a good job of playing powerful and brutal drum parts that are tight, yet basic and intense. All in all, my biggest complaint about this recording is that there are only four tracks... Sad 'cause I want more!
S.B.
E-mail!
4 out of 5

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FROZEN FEARS: "Wasteland" - Demo

This relatively young Italian quintet (formed in 1997) plays a brand of Power Metal that has a lot of melodic riffing and harmonics as base-line. The guitars are crunchy and offers some pretty intricate licks and some pretty challenging soloing. The Guitars also sound pretty crunchy and pretty heavy, but the riffing is not always very innovative. The formula has already been studied and done by countless bands from this genre, including other Italian Power Metal outfits. But the playing is still pretty strong and I do think that time will offer them the experience and wisdom of working on a more personal approach to their song writing. The talent is there, that's quite obvious. The drumming is pretty good, pretty simple but to the point and very tight. The bass offers a strong bottom sound but the details of its playing are overshadowed by the guitars. The vocals are okay; Alessio Taiti's voice is clean and will certainly become much stronger with experience and practice. For now, most of it is alright but there are a few places where he kinds of hesitate on some note... But like I said, the basis for greater things are there. And he should also be able to widen his range too. All in all, the sound is pretty decent for a demo and these guys promise to do some real noise in the melodic Power Metal scene in the coming years.
S.B.
Web site!
E-mail!
3 out of 5

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HYPNOTIC FACE: "Written By Life" - MC Demo

Here is a type of Metal that I have not heard being played by younger bands for quite some time. These guys play a brand of Power Metal that reminds me very much of older MEGADETH and this type of stereotypical Metal. The songs HYPNOTIC FACE write do have a little bit more groove than MEGADETH though, which is a band that I sincerely despise. But this Czech outfit do have some pretty crunchy moments, although there also are a few parts that are full of clichés and which are not very original. The guitars are very loud and large, extremely heavy and clear! I must say that the guitar sound is of great quality, especially for a demo. The bass is very thunderous and adds a lot of snap to the rhythmics. The drumming is pretty methodical and simple but tight and snappy. The drums also sound very powerful and snappy, with lots of bottom and clarity to it. Great sound for a demo! The vocals are mostly in a pretty traditional Heavy Metal type of singing, with a pretty good range of voice. Mostly in the mid and high frequencies, some parts may be just a bit too commercial with their melodies, but nothing too major... Plus it does fit this genre quite well. All in all, this is a very good demo from a band that has the guts to play a genre of Metal that has been greatly ignore by the underground these last few years, what with the horrible crap that has been released by MEGADETH, PANTERA and all those type of band. Check it out!
S.B.
Web site!
E-mail!
3½ out of 5

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INTO THE GORE: Demo

This Greek act is real brutal and intense, as I find its sound to have a lot more to do with American Death Metal than the sound we're usually used to hear from Greek bands. Very rough and cutting edge riffing, mostly full of note and intense with picking, that's what you can get off this demo. Some of the riffing sometime remind me a little bit some of the stuff DEICIDE did, with some other simpler riffs that makes this band quite the paradox of technical picking and more primitive riffing. The drums sounds as if it was a drum machine, eventhough there is a drummer listed on their biography. Either way, if it isn't a drum machine, than the drums have been triggered as hell, but the sound isn't that bad and it is pretty clear and very powerful. The vocals are the usual very low, brutal growls that we are used to hear from so many Death Metal bands. Some of it sound better than the rest, but it's still a very decent vocal. All in all, this demo will appeal to amateur of Death Metal as well as fans of Grind like old CARCASS or NAPALM DEATH.
S.B.
E-mail!
3 out of 5

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Reviews from letters: A to E - F to J - P to T - U to Z

LITHIUM: "Insect Failure Ugly Friend" - Demo CD

This two men band, featuring ex-TIAMAT's Johnny Hagel, offers a brand of Techno Industrial underground dance stuff. Now this stuff really isn't my cup of tea, to say the least. But, while some of the material is simply horrible to me, there also are parts that offer some interesting underground, violent music that will aggress your ears just enough to make it quite interesting. But a lot of it is just too damn commercial and danceable for me too. I guess that it sounds to me like a cross between DEPECHE MODE and NINE INCH NAILS. But, in all honesty, I can't say that I'm an expert in this type of music, so take this comparison as it is... Just as what it sounds like to me. The sound is pretty deep and large with some pretty intense guitar work here and there, when there is place for it among all of this techno synthesized stuff. The songs are well crafted and designed with obvious control. The vocals are pretty well done too, with solid singing that reminds me a lot of DEPECHE MODE's singer. All in all, if you are into this type of music, it's a winner! If you're not, I recommend that you look elsewhere.
S.B.
E-mail!
3 out of 5

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LORD: "Behind The Curtain Of Darkness" - Demo MC

This is second rate Black Metal that also takes a lot of elements from old school Death like HELLHAMMER. The guitars sound pretty good and clear, with a sound that isn't all that heavy but that has a pretty good impact. The problem is the overly simplistic, if not primitive riffing, that usually have about two or three chords (simple large power chords) that repeat themselves over and over again... And each song has about two or three of these riffs, making those songs very simple and repetitive. Like I said, some of the riffing even reminds me of primitive HELLHAMMER type of riffing. The drums sound very muddy and kind of buried under the mix. The drumming itself is so-so, with many parts that are not tight and don't punch in with the rest of the song. The blasts are pretty weak. The vocals, well guess what! Yes, you're right! It's the same old same old! High pitch screamed growls of Black Metal origin. Nothing new in there. I can't say that this tape has caught my attention at all.
S.B.
LORD, c/o Arnaud Lucas, 2/3 Résidence du Quai de Marseille 1, 59100 Roubaix, France
1½ out of 5

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MUTINY: "Guilty As Charged" - MCD (Indie)

This is a pretty good discovery for me! These guys play a type of Power Prog Metal that kind of sounds like a mix between METAL CHURCH/HELLOWEEN and STRATOVARIUS... The two songs on this EP are very intense and powerful, while extremely melodic and by an obviously high level of intricacy. The guitars riffing are intense and varied, taking elements from more traditional Heavy/Thrash Metal and mixing it with more complicated, noteful riffs. The leads are melodious, yet pretty technical, displaying total control over the instrument. The bass is kind of low in the mix though but still gets through with enough bottom to add to the riffing. The vocals are pretty good and display a wide range of singing, from mid-range to high pitch singing. While the vocals display great potential and do offer some intense singing, not all the parts are perfectly on-key and a bit more experience will do Alexis some good by adding some strength to his voice... But it's not like he has to do it all from scratch: The majority of the singing on this MCD is already very strong and melodic. The drumming is pretty simple but, for the most part, pretty tight, aside from a few passes here and there... Nothing major. This Greek act displays tremendous abilities and I think that they might become a very respected Prog Metal outfit in the near future. Can't wait to hear a full length from them! Check ot out!
S.B.
Web site!
E-mail!
4 out of 5

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Reviews from letters: A to E - F to J - K to O - U to Z

SFUMATO: Demo CD 1999

This is a Progressive Metal band from Germany that has a lot to offer, but which also has its places for improvement. The music is generally in a generic Prog Metal vein: Some strangely arrangements, precise riffing and skilled soloing, etc. This said, I can't say that the song writing is ground braking. They do good song that will remind me of many things that I've heard in the past, but they won't stand out as the most original thing I've ever heard either. This said, they have great musicianship, as the guitarist do showcase on this CD. The bass playing is also intricate and brings elements in the riffing, not only support to the guitars. The drums sound a bit flat but still pretty clear. The drumming in itself is pretty good, with maybe just a few hooks here and there, pretty minor. The playing remains simple and effective. The vocals offer some good range of singing. The voice isn't totally solid yet, but like I said, this band is just a year or two of experience from being an extraordinary Prog act. Experience, trials and errors will end up in being the fuel that will make his voice stronger and decisive. The same goes for the whole song writing; the majesty and intricacy on their music is there... Now they just have to work on putting their own identity to their music and bingo! Not bad at all! Check it out!
S.B.
Web site!
E-mail!
3 out of 5

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Reviews from letters: A to E - F to J - K to O - P to T

VORACE: Demo CD

This band plays a brand a Thrash Death that may have been on the top of the mountain a few years ago, but which sounds a little bit antiquated nowadays. This said, it may be this very same quality that also makes this CD kind of interesting. Their sound is pretty rough and very square, the guitar playing being very tight and precise with the riffing, which is mostly pretty crunchy and very heavy. All this is completed with rotative and noteful riffs, which adds some diversity to the song. But there also are some of the riffs that can become a bit too repetitive and kind of cliché. The guitars sound very good, heavy and clear with lots of bottom. Very crunchy playing! The low point of this recording has to be the drum machine: In the slower parts, it can almost pass as a real drum but in the faster parts (there are no blasts in here, just a few mid-fast tempo) and the tom passes, then it becomes quite obvious that it is a machine... It becomes very sterile. The vocals are pretty interesting... Not totally original, of course, but very rough, dry and somewhat brutal. It is a mid-range, narrative type of growl. All in all, the songs are well written and arranged, with memorable bridges. Like I said, it is a pretty classic type of Metal but it's not totally outdated by any means since it is played with lots of precision, control and with a tad touch of more modern elements, including a few parts where there is some synthesizers. But certainly not everywhere and in a way that only adds colours to certain parts. VORACE means voracious and I'd say that this is a pretty good description of their music. Check it out!
S.B.
VORACE, c/o Claude Hostettler, 14 rue Viollet Le Duc, 25000 Besancon, France.
3½ out of 5

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