DemonicalThe Swedes of Demonical have been spreading their death metal filth since 2006 when members of the persistent yet workmanlike Centinex sought a fresh outlet for their talents. In its time, the band has unleashed four well received albums and included amongst its ranks Ronnie Bergerståhl of Grave, Entombed A.D.’s Johan Jansson and even Marduk’s new, immensely talented drummer Fredrik Widigs. All of which suggests that the band, and its founder Martin Schulman, has been doing something right these past years. To whet the appetite of fans, the ‘Black Flesh Redemption’ EP has been served up, apparently containing a few new musical and visual elements.

‘Cursed Liberation’ almost immediately erupts into thundering Swedeath; riffs like granite walls, bass from the gods and d-beat setting the tone until a liberal dose of melody pours from the torrential waves of darkness. And the scene is added further impetus by Sverker “Widda” Widgren’s voice, which comes across like an extreme metal Johan Hegg. Aside from a section which drags us into slower realms, instilling the willies that bit more (I’ll consider the wording of this point later), the opener is belted out at a consistent, sometimes fleeting pace. Beyond the tank-like crawl of its opening, in which bass drums hammer away a la Bolt Thrower, ‘Drown in Flames’ races by with a similarly potent and assured stride. Where the top drawer production enhances their style, it also obviously helps that the band knows when to hit the right buttons at the appropriate times; shifting pace, throwing in false-endings and subtle nuances along the way.

The greatest departure from these higher tempos on the EP is ‘Throne of Perdition’. As soon as the guitars and drums break the ominous start it’s utterly crushing, and from here the track only becomes more so. In fact the eery cataclysmic doom at times echoes the early ’90s Finnish pioneers as much as it does the Swedes. During this six-and-a-half minute epic a few characteristic variances heighten the experience, such as riffs which streak fire across the undulating black clouds of death-doom and a bit of otherworldly solo work. In contrast, closer ‘To Become the Weapon’ is more direct than anything so far encountered, combining a real hardcore punk feel with the majestic evil of death fucking metal. Each drum beat feels like a steel-toe capped boot detonating against your vulnerable flesh and, funnily enough, the blast-beats seem a bit unnecessary given just how punishing the momentum emitted by this main style is.

While ‘Black Flesh Redemption’ doesn’t reinvent the musical wheel, and the variances in each track are often subtle, it is so consumingly heavy that none of this matters. Plus those variances – such as the nifty hint at a funeral march in the final track’s solo – are often brilliant. Most decisively, Demonical (on this EP at least) combine a few different strands of the European death metal genre to great effect, a fact which necessarily elevates them above the status of mere Dismember worshippers.

(8.5/10 Jamie)