Issue 47 - August 30, 2002

Demonspell

cheating the polygraph
Apr 29, 2001
15,352
32
48
44
dead between the walls
www.ultimatemetal.com
DEMONSPELL’S SONGS TO WATCH
Best before fall…
Written August 30, 2002

Greetings devoted readers! This has been a busy week, considering my preparations for the upcoming semester. I still haven’t decided whether I will continue writing this column at its current frequency yet, but given my schedule and expected involvement in study, don’t expect a return to weekly publication anytime soon. I think I’ll keep the descriptions brief this week…

A.C.T.: A Supposed Tour, Imaginary Friends: Swedish progressive act known for balancing quirky touches with accomplished musicianship. Both tracks contain some appealing sections, especially the latter’s guitar interludes.

…And Oceans – Aphelion, Picturesque: Last year’s AMGOD attracted much attention, along with some derision from black metal fans who decried the growing techno presence in their music. Cypher continues in this direction, and the former track contains an unusually catchy refrain. All songs on the album contain three song titles, for reasons I don’t know…

Big Big Train – Broken English, Blue Silver Red: Despite the dumb name, this is professional sounding British prog rock. Former track is a compelling fourteen-minute epic with a very sad lyrical theme. Latter track shows off the band’s instrumental ability.

Blaze – Stealing Time, End Dream: Love him or hate him, it’s hard to get one of his choruses out of your head, which is true on both tracks here. Many have stated that he seems more suited for this material than he was in Iron Maiden, and the rousing former track supports this theory.

Chiaroscuro – Caliban’s Dance, Fireflies: This progressive metal band takes its name from a painting technique of contrasting light and dark, which is a very apt description of their music. Both tracks are decidedly heavy at times but possess both gifts for melody and technicality beneath the surface. Latter track available at www.mp3.com

Cornerstone – Midnight In Tokyo, House Of Nevermore: Reader suggested melodic metal act featuring former members of Royal Hunt and Rainbow. Not exactly my cup of tea, especially the AOR clichés of the former track (which even goes far to namecheck its most likely audience!), but the latter is a strong track that rises above convention.

Crises – The Blame, Choices: German progressive metal act who has independently released three albums. Both songs are reminiscent of Dream Theater, but have some surprises, such as the slap bass that appears unexpectedly in the latter. Former track is an eight-minute track that demands immediate attention. Both songs available on official site.

Dark Tranquillity – The Treason Wall, White Noise/Black Silence: Perhaps with Damage Done, the rest of the metal community will share fans’ claim that they are Gothenburg’s greatest band. Latter track was left off the promo, but fear not as it can compete with anything here. Former track may be the album’s most powerful achievement, featuring a great instrumental section, savage riffs, and well-placed keyboards.

Enchant – Flatline, Ultimate Gift: Blink Of An Eye is easily one of year’s best prog releases, and possibly this consistent but always slightly changing band’s best to date. Former track shows the band’s intent to add more punch to their sound with its driving rhythm, and the latter, a song of devotion to guitarist Doug Ott’s wife, finds him expressing his passion through some superb guitar work. Longtime fans will note the surprise ending…

Evoken – Towers Of Frozen Dusk, To Sleep Eternally: Doom metal band I really don’t know much about besides their appearance on that really bad Maiden tribute (damn, does that ever narrow it down!), but these tracks should appeal to fans of the genre, especially the latter…

Heaven’s Cry – Masterdom’s Profit, 2K Awe Trick: Canadian progressive metal act whose last album Food For Thought Substitute (love the name) attracted some attention, and with a new one and an appearance at Progpower Europe, they should become more well-known. Former track rocks hard while remaining highly technical, and contains some great guitar work…available at www.dvsrecords.com

Kalmah – They Will Return, Kill The Idealist: Often referred to as a knockoff of Children Of Bodom (god help us all), despite similarities they have managed to attract my attention…have you figured out that I’m not a COB fan yet? J The latter track manages to one up them with its almost continuous dual guitar run…

The Kovenant – Mirrors Paradise, The Sulphur Feast: Another band that black metallers love to hate, despite or owing to the many big names involved…but both of these songs did manage to capture my attention, especially the latter with its keyboard-led riff…

Krakatoa – The Messenger Is Sleeping, Teenagers Have Failed: Avant-garde instrumental prog brought to my attention by the good folks at Delicious Agony, an excellent progressive online radio station. Both tracks are heavy on foreboding atmospheres and use of ominous strings, and how can I not recommend a song with the latter’s title?

Nile – Hall Of Saurian Entombment, Invocation To Seditious Heresy: Their first two releases have almost became instant classics in the death metal community, and their latest In Their Darkened Shrines will probably follow in their path. The two songs here are the first half of an album-closing song cycle, former being one of their Egyptian excursions while the latter features some typically insane riffery.

Novembers Doom – Broken, The Lifeless Silhouette: Despite having a genre as part of their name, this is not a band to be easily pigeonholed. Their new one To Welcome The Fade, which features an awesome Travis Smith-designed cover, finds the band in top form, especially on the desperate and lengthy former track. Both songs available on www.appropriateapocalypse.com, which is also holding a contest in conjunction with the band.

Onoffon – Oceans Cry, Wet Legs: Independent progressive rock act with a strong jazzy feel brought to my attention by Progressive World’s Stephanie Sollow. Latter track is notable for its treatment of its sexually explcit subject matter in a laid back manner. Former track has some impressive guitar work, both available at www.mp3.com

Planet X – Ataraxia, Ground Zero: That other DT-related instrumental act returns this month with Moonbabies, another release showing off the spectacular atlents of all three involved. The band’s explosive chemistry is at its full potency on the former track, while the latter finds them stretching out a bit.

The Red Masque – Birdbrain, Beggars & Thieves: Philadelphia based avant-prog act featuring a powerful vocalist in Lynette Shelley and a gift for extended improvisation. Latter track takes a while to develop, but succeeds in building atmosphere. Lots of information and samples available at their official site.

RPWL – Side By Side, Waiting For A Smile: German progressive rock act who began life as a Pink Floyd cover band, and their influence is all over their current release Trying To Kiss The Sun, which has received many strong reviews. Both tracks are full of thoughtful guitar work and a relaxed atmosphere, making this a good meditative album.

Solefald – Backpack Baba, The USA Don’t Exist: One of the more enigmatic and lyrically provocative acts in extreme metal, although that description is highly inaccurate, I imagine this duo seeing themselves more as conceptual artists. Despite the odd aesthetic, the latter song (written before 9/11) features a very addictive refrain, and the latter’s vocal interplay and lead signature is also highly arresting.

Spock’s Beard – Long Time Suffering, Devil’s Got My Throat: A favorite of many progressive rock fans who have given the band a devoted cult following, I just don’t get their appeal. I find almost all of their material to be extremely boring, devoid of emotion, and derivative, and their just released double album Snow, already being hailed as another triumph, is no exception. The latter does have more energy and balls than usual, but Neal seems unsuited for its pace.

Steel Prophet – Truth, Among The Damned: Another band that has often been accused of being derivative, they return with Unseen, their fourth in as many years. These songs are an improvement on the last album, the Maidenesque guitar lines remain, but there is some diversity here, such as the keyboard solo in the former. Singer Rick Mythiasin left shortly after recording.

Thieves Kitchen – Call To Whoever, Proximity: British progressive rock act who has released two albums full of lengthy compositions, the ones here a combined half-hour in length. As expected, the band has plenty of room to show off their ample instrumental talents here, particularly on the latter.

Threshold – Fragmentation, Critical Mass: One of the most anticipated progressive metal releases of the year, this album does not disappoint and I may end up liking it more than their previous one. The title track is a three-part composition highlighting almost all of the band’s strengths, and Richard West stands out with several great keyboard solos. Former track is the album’s heaviest, but retains the band’s strong melodic sensibility.

Vanishing Point – The Only One, Vanishing Point: Australian melodic rock act who gained a devoted following in their homeland and good press abroad with their last release Tangled In Dream. The songs here are from an earlier album, and find them in a heavier and less AOR aesthetic.

Vauxdvihl – Separate Ends, Comedy Of Errors: Obscure technical metal act whose album To Dimension Logic is regarded as a forgotten treasure, at least by the ten people lucky enough to own it, which doesn’t include me. Both of these tracks are highly progressive metal with some arresting vocals and tricky arrangements.

Vintersorg – Vem Styr Symmetrin, A Star-Guarded Coronation: Growing less black metal and more progressive with every subsequent release much like his bandmates in Borknagar, he has accomplished his goal of expanding his horizons on Spiral Generator. Former track alternates between heavy and technical sections, while the latter is a slow-building track featuring a memorable chorus.

Thus ends this chapter. I swear, I will get to the Progpower lineup assessment before the festivals actually happen!