Demoniac (CHL) - So It Goes
Edged Circle Productions
Progressive Thrash
5 songs (42:07)
Release year: 2021
Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

Chilean thrashers Demoniac (nothing to do with the Dragonforce side-project!) have only been around since 2011, but already are showing a mastery of their genre. Taking an individualistic line away from the revivalist "pizza thrashers" of the past decade or so, these four have built upon a darker, more typically violent and South American approach to the genre, taking plenty of influence from early black metal and blending it with their own progressive tendencies to form a simply marvellous album that deserves to place the band firmly on the map. Even going back and listening to early work from them you can hear the promise, and so to turn on the oddly but charmingly-titled So It Goes and be greeted with the opening seven-minute riff-fest that is RSV - Fool Coincidence - Testigo is a sheer joy. Beginning with raw, primal riff-worship backed by shrieked vocals and blasting drums, the track soon develops with widdly lead guitar and a thrash break into speed, the lead guitars taking on an almost neoclassical role as they begin to produce melodies amidst the carnage. As it continues you start noticing the little details, such as the just raw enough mix that allows Vicente Pereira's bass plenty of room to shine beneath guitarists Nicholas Young and Javier Ortiz, and the sheer amount of time given to instrumental exploration shows that the band are fully aware of where their biggest strengths are.

And their clear love for thrash itself shows through here and elsewhere in violent embrace of the genre's raw roots, Spanish vocals spat out at speed atop crunching (but not groovy!) riffs. The likes of The Trap are excellent at conveying the spirit of early Sepulturan aggression even with that Carpenter-esque piano horror theme opening, and from then on the album is almost gleefully experimental. Jazzy clarinet is used to great effect on the melodic Extraviado, fitting in well to the blackened thrash base (a new addition to the black-jazz pantheon?) and Equilibrio Fatal brings in downright Maiden-esque bass playing before ending on a lengthy guitar soloing session that manages to completely avoid tech-wankery, remaining perfectly listenable up to the final notes of the song.

All of this is but the appetiser before the main course, the just-under twenty minute title track. And it's here that Demoniac's compositional and instrumental skills really come across, along with the near-mastery of lead guitar. It's a thrash metal song, but as reimagined through a lens influenced by 70s greats that made prog epics that naturally reached that length. And in the course of this the band incorporate everything from bass/guitar melodic trade-offs to Germanic thrash ripping, with side forays that bring back the clarinet-focused melodic jazz, all in a compact package that never feels lengthy or overwrought. It's one of those compositions that feels oddly timeless and will doubtless still be a wonderful listen decades later, a technical workout for thrash equal to similar efforts from prog rock bands of the 70s that sought to push boundaries and stay tuneful. Thrash, conversely, has quite rigid boundaries, and Demoniac simultaneously manage to operate within them (few non-thrashers will appreciate this!) yet also demolish them in what is both a wacky avant-garde experiment and a natural extension of what the genre should be capable of. Genuinely impressive; matching chin-stroking critical horizons with a very grounded representation of metallic heaviness, Demoniac are a name to watch both for their future endeavours as well as current victories.

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Goat quoted 88 / 100
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