Released: 2002, Spikefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
SLUMBER OF SULLEN EYES, Finland´s Demigod´s highly praised and respected debut album on Spanish Drowned Productions (which soon became Repulse Records after SLUMBER... was released on the label under its predesessor´s moniker) back in ´92, meant the end of the band´s Death Metal era which many devoted, die-hard Demigod -fans felt sorry for the band as they supposedly thought ´demigodz´ were destined to stay with their downright brutal Death Metal sound with the rest of their lifespan and continue from that firm ground which SLUMBER´s immensively good success left for them. As a minor bunch of us has become aware of the hard facts, lots of things DID actually happen in the Demigod -camp after their debut was released. First off, the original singer Esa Lindén had some other commitments in his own life going on at that time that basically left him hardly as much time for the band activities as before. Secondly, the guys confessed (if not THAT loudly for the hot ears of public) that they kind of did get bored of playing the type of music they had recorded for SLUMBER, so they just had to go thru some drastic musical changes within their music. And as they didn´t want to confuse people too much, they dropped the name Demigod around 1993-94 in order to go on under a new moniker named Neverborn for their more thrashy approach, only now paying more tribute to such bands as Possessed, Infernäl Mäjesty, Slayer and all these ol´ school Thrash acts music-wise that actually were there as the main influnces for them since the first firm steps of the ´demigodz´ indeed.
After a few rehearsal tapes using Neverborn´s name in them all, they decided to take the original name back again ´coz Neverborn caused a major confusion amongst metalheads and both a good reputation and a solid fanbase for the band were already built around Demigod´s name, so in that sense, it was a very clever move from the guys really.
All this as a short introduction for all those whom paths these Finnish GODZ of brutal deathrash´ish metal have never crossed before.
SHADOW... is opened up by "My Blood - Your Blood"; a song that has all the well-known Demigod ingredients in itself: Hard-boiled, crunching guitars, super-duper heaviness, bottow-low grunts of Ali Leinio - and all this covered nicely with Demigod´s distinctive cloak of a sticking melody. They couldn´t have chosen any better opener for "SHADOW..."; "My Blood -Your Blood" truly is one of the better numbers on the album and I bet you hardly disagree when you´ll hear the song.
Up next a taste of a lil´ Thrash Metal tornado, "In the Mirrors (which previously was called "Though I Walk" - Luxi reminds!)"; a pretty fast tempo song even by Demigodz´ standard and where Jussi and Tero, the unstoppable axe punishers make such a twin grinder attack by their wicked, red-hot-heavy 6-stringers that certainly won´t leave them much room for any unnecessary excuses. It´s just somehow unbelieveably impressive what these fellows do in the riff´n´rhythm department. Obviously they have passed their exams of senior Thrash Metal high school with the highest grades possible - like being the ultimate valedictorians of their class since the beginning. They don´t do any miracles, but certainly a damn well job that should please even the most demanding tastes in the very genre.
"Lost Within", an old song off their 4-song promo released back in -´94, has stayed rather loyal to its original version even if the song has been up-dated and improved slightly by letting both Tuomas´growls and Sami´s clean vocal parts bring in a good measure of variation and freshness into it. "Lost Within" is a lethal kick straight in your miserable nuts with its bold heaviness and an utterly bombastic catchiness.
One of my all-time favorite Demigod tunes, all evil-thrashing "Where the Shadows Clash" turns out to be even better and better every time the guys have decided to give a serious kick to the song. And they haven´t failed this time either. In fact, "Where the Shadown Class" comes out into the daylight thrashier, more evil and twisted than ever before. Much of the credits must still be given to the band´s previous mastermind Esa Lindén for conjuring up with some of the best guitar lines for the song on the table in the Demigod´s whole history. He had - without a question, very sophisticated and sharp ears for truly catchy song structures that made the Demigod stuff stood out far better than many other bands of similar kind were capable of coming up with at that time (the era from the SLUMBER... to Esa´s departure from the band in ´96). Esa´s magnificent, creative spirit keeps on living as a part of Demigod probably forever...
"Trail of Guilt" emblazons the whole metal world more of that melodic end of Demigod´s creativity - being overall ´almost´ a ballad-like song (I know the guys just HATE such a word for being used towards their stuff, but now it just has to do..., -eh!?) and somehow strangely even bringing the mighty Amorphis occasionally in my mind due to some clean vocal parts in it. But that´s luckily the only comparable particle within their music that has anything to do with Amorphis ´coz Demigodz are into anything elz musically than all these commercially -orientated sub-genres within Heavy Metal music. A great, mid-tempo song with a rather depressive atmosphere that captures your attention instantly with its well-built wholeness.
Let "Gates of Lamentation" enter next - and we are led into the glorious realm of Demigod´s Neverborn -era where there wasn´t too much room for heaviness and a pissed-off yet overwhelming speed meant everything for the guys as it´s to be heard loud and clear according to the very song in question here. The song itself respectfully harks back to the times when bands like Possessed, Slayer and Infernäl Mäjesty were at their most relentless and vicious shapes; back to those times when people considered their favorite metal acts ´brutal and killer´ the easier the faster they managed to play songs out of their collected la grande selection. Straight, simple, aggressive-to-the bone and surely the fastest tune Demigod has ever penned down during their long-lasting, 12-year-old career. Such an impressive Thrash song in its all simplicity - hardly more, hardly less.
As far as things extremely and downright HEAVY go, up next is "Silent with Earth" which is - and supposedly will be, the finest, the heaviest and the most majestically composed, colossally rolling Demigod tune that has made a perfect landing right on SHADOW MECHANICS. They have nicely reworked with this old classic track off their ´94 promo-tape and given it such a dead-heavy treatment that places the song in its excellency as one of the brightest Demigod classics ever in my opinion at least. Along with "Slumber of Sullen Eyes" off their debut with the same name, these particular songs belong to my personal all-time best written Demigod songs and I believe those tracks won´t be their last ones - causing similar vibes in me as far as a mixture of an ultimate catchiness and a general impressiveness in a brutal yet melodic Thrash Metal are concerned. "Silent..." is definitely one of these songs that may cross your path maybe once or twice in a year and make you humming the song ´til something as an unsullied creativeness crawls in the front of you once again. A pure work of art on the battlefields of thrashing kick-ass metal without fuckin´ doubts!! Such a GODLY, GODLY song indeed...
"Derailed" keeps on kicking our puffed-up butts and heads the way like the 2nd song on SHADOW..., titled "In the Mirrors" already did. Some excellent guitar mastering are yet again performed by both Jussi and Tero whereas the rest of the Demigod´s raging team tries to follow the guitarists´ treads and tricks the best possible way they can. Quite a few similarities to some of the older Demigod stuff are to be found from this tune as well; a combination of typical Demigod riffs welded together with nearly a standard type of a discernible melody of which they have become known for for many of us already in the past, it´s all been brought out in "Derailed". If you´re into more of the guys´ thrashier way to kick their songs in the air, then here´s yet another song to be loved and adored. So, volumes up and let it go, dudes!
Did you know that there´s an ´epic´ side in the ´godz´ riff library nowadays as well? That ´epic´ thing has perfectly been stamped all over "Crimson Tears" which starts off with a beautifully arranged acoustic guitar dominating the beginning of it for the 1st couple of seconds even if only soon leading us into far heavier venues of the band´s progressive soundscapes, placing Demigod´s producer/keyboardist/vocalist (and the owner of Pop Studio) into a spotlight with his superb use of harmonic vocal lines in this tune. It´s a really nice contrast to all that how both Ali and Tuomas spit their words out when they do their share by growling the way they can do their best. For some of your loss I have to confess this new version of "Crimson Tears" kind of does not outshine the original version of the song that´s to be found from their 4-song promo-CD that was released back in -´99. Changes are minor, but I still prefer the original version of this song a bit more as it was heavier and maybe even crispier compared to the version on SHADOW... . Nevertheless, with such an epic feeling that the song holds inside itself, it´s difficult to not like the song. A true ear-candy for an advanced and much experienced metal listener who also respects some calmness in the eye of the storm - metaphorically speaking...
"Drifting" brings us back to that track where Demigod have always been at their very best .i.e. churning out songs that are mostly heavily based on rich, mind-blowing walls of tasteful riffs and extraordinary well-thought out song structures that stand out at first listen. That´s the area where they have always shone brighter than many other bands with the same calibre of their weapons loaded for a full-scale Thrash strike - and the last song, titled "Burning (which was earlier called "Burning Illusion" for all of you curious parties...)" continues basically from there where "Drifting" left off - offering a killer dose of razor-sharp Thrash Metal the well-known Demigod way and at the same time, going right on the very top of the list of today´s most wanted thrashers. Let´s just hope they have come back here to stay at least for the next 10 years or so ´coz SHADOW MECHANICS has been done for REAL metalheads; and for the current trends on the global map of metal.
... and just a couple of words more that recently crawled in my mind: Demigod RULES (it´s just so simple as that...)!!!