Sometimes the passage of time seems to pass extremely quickly. I mean, it seems like only yesterday that Swedish crew Centinex were consistently delivering excellent Swedish death metal, and I lamented their loss just as much as the next slave to the Swedeath sound. Seven years after their demise, Demonical, the band that was originally formed by three of their remaining members are now unleashing album number four, making me feel incredibly old in the process. These days only bassist Martin Schulman remains from their debut album ‘Servants of the Unlight’, with three new members having joined since their last effort ‘Death Infernal’, two of which joined after the recording of this very album – confused yet? Don’t be too perturbed, because the power of their sound and the immediacy of their attack has – thankfully – not been weakened one bit.
Firstly (and most importantly) the guitar tone and primal riffage is present and correct, perhaps a little crisper sounding than some of their previous efforts, but still replete with that ‘tearing the fabric of space and time’ chainsaw low end and enamel removing high end for the ripping solos which are often flailed around like razor tipped bullwhips at some satanic hoedown. The title track which opens the album is a pretty pointless affair, serving only as a 70s horror movie styled gentle/spooky tinkling to throw any unsuspecting idiot off the scent of what is to follow, which is of course face removing Swedish death metal in a classic Stockholm style. There’s a little bit of Deicide in their repertoire these days (particularly noticeable at times throughout ‘The Healing Control’), and touches of the classic Morbid Angel sound to their rampaging edge – but their main love has generally been of years of abusing the likes of ‘Clandestine’, ‘Left Hand Path’ and ‘Like An Everflowing Stream’. These influences have never been more noticeable as in the album closer ‘The Great Praise’, a slow, moody finish to an album that is happy to flay flesh for the lion’s share of your time. The album as a whole reeks of Sunlight Studios in its heyday, with all the crazy riffery, down tuned blasting sections, clattering drum abuse and roared (yet wonderfully enunciated) vocals that you could dream of – so, I was in heaven pretty much throughout.
There are a couple of bonus tracks on the Digipak version of the CD, one being a Kreator cover of ‘World Beyond’ which their completely make their own, and a re-recording of ‘Burned Alive’ with beefed up sound for the newbies and old fans alike. They serve their purpose, but I’d perhaps have liked to have finished on the aforementioned ‘The Great Praise’ as was likely intended by the band, as it works much better for the album’s flow – but this is the curse of the dreaded bonus track so it’s not the band’s fault.
All in all, ‘Darkness Unbound’ is a triumphant return once more from Demonical; proving they still have the bite, the chops and the bestial bile to keep themselves on top of their game. Demonical: guaranteed to leave your ears ringing long after the album has finished – so long as you’re playing it at the right volume.
(8/10 Lars Christiansen)