Monday, 5 December 2016

Demontage – Fire of Iniquity (2016) / 90%

Not yet extinct

The best metal band from Toronto is back with their third album and the first since their fantastic 2010 opus The Principal Extinction. While I have certain reservations concerning this new record, it’s still one of 2016’s best moments and, in the end, was far from disappointing.

Based on the psychedelic and progressive tendencies of their previous work, I thought the trio were gonna keep exploring this path and go full bonkers. I mean, there’s still similar moments here like the glorious “Untame Iniquity” or “Cult of the Meteor” but I think the focus is elsewhere, it's perhaps a bit more rooted in metal than ever. The tracks are mostly shorter and punchier but they still include lot of epic heavy metal,possibly more than ever before. My reservations are purely personal since I really like when bands go all out and release meandering (in the best sense possible) pieces and it’s not what this album is about. Oh well, there’s still the new Cultes des Ghoules for crazy black/heavy metal if I want to hear such a thing! I guess that I considered this new record as a sort of stagnation but after a while, I kept hearing new subtle and intriguing details. It’s just much more dense and compact and is more surprising than you’d expect from a band with this aesthetic.

The production while still on the lo-fi side is a bit better than it was before. Regardless, I don’t want a thoroughly clean Demontage album like I wouldn’t want a Nuclear Blast produced Darkthrone album. The gruff style works well for them and is an essential part of their identity. They’re obscure minstrels from an old, mystic aura where metal was still embryonic and genres were blurry.

The musicianship is also one of the aspects that put Demontage over their peers, The Lout is a riff machine and an inspired vocalist who channels the chaotic evil gods of old and the Abominable Reverend pounds the drums like a raging madman. There’s no disposable moments here and the album’s flow is precise and balanced as they alternate between mid-paced insanity and fast-paced attacks with ease and experience. The guitars are the clear highlights of this full length, they do so much while keeping things neat and their sound is fully devoid of any gimmick and unnecessary fluff. Demontage is a band relying on extremely addictive leads played by a single guitarist who just hammers riffs after riffs like it's nothing. Furthermore, the additional keys here and there certainly add a certain epic flair but they were able to convey this grandiose feel with their usual metal lineup. Not unlike the masters of metal themselves, Manilla Road.

From the thrash attack of the appropriately named “Mad Thrasher” to the Dark Quarterer-esque instrumental conclusion of “Into the Fire”, Fire of Iniquity is a tour-de-force. It’s a challenging record successful at mixing a lot of traditional metal styles in one potent formula. The first wave black metal meets the Greek scene and pure heavy metal is just something that barely anyone else is playing nowadays. Demontage are just as good as Zemial and Agatus, two comparable bands and influences. At times, they could be seen as a crazier and more elaborate Venom as they’re full of spite but also quite thoughtful and intelligent. We have the best of both worlds. Metal is at its finest when there’s no pretension involved but also when primitive posturing is removed from the equation. One thing is certain though, Demontage still freaking rules.

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