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Grimoire of Ruin
Released: 2006, Darkhaven Records
Shadow Demon are one of the more exciting new REAL metal bands to emerge from the US in a long time. The blend of thrash, melody, and power metal is presented seamlessly and will please fans of such bands as Persuader, Iced Earth and Testament. GRIMOIRE OF RUIN is Shadow Demon’s first full length following their EP from 2003. Since then, the band has had some line up changes and have emerged a much stronger unit.
No pointless intro opens the album, as the band gets down to business right away with the killer track “A Dream of Dreams”. Despite being fairly long for an opener, this is a great and catchy. The vocals are most noticeably layered during the chorus where there are clear Blind Guardian influences. “Drums of War” appropriately starts out with a neat drum pattern over a thrashy riff. Again, when the chorus comes in the full strength of the song is evidenced. This is one of the main things that sets this band above so many others - having strong and memorable melodic vocals executed this well is a prerequisite for this style of metal. Some of the riffing near the beginning of “The Dark Citadel….” reminds me of old Death Angel in both guitar sound and with the pinch harmonics. After that the song picks up in intensity sounding like old-school thrash with the vocals sounding a bit like a young James Hetfield. “…And The Meek” has more fast thrashy Iced Earth style riffing with a Persuader feel. “Brave Murder Day” starts out oddly and off-sounding before things turn around. This one also features a nice melodic solo over some clean guitars making for the only real mellow moment on the album. It’s not a ballad though, so don’t worry. “Walking Among the Dead” has some quite busy riffing for the vocal parts, busier than what we hear on other songs. It sounds like they are having a bit of a hard time finding the vocal melody line to fit over this madness, but it works. The relentless pounding of the drums drives this one along. The riffing section around 2:30 is fucking brutal, the best section of the song!
For criticisms, there are not many. “Sea of Oblivion” is the only track on the album that I didn’t like. It starts out like half-baked black metal before slowing down. Singer, Blain Hammond, isn’t always aware of his range limitations in a couple of places but he’s a great singer that will only improve with more recordings under his belt. The only other thing that could use improving is the album’s sound. It’s good, but a bit unclear and doesn’t have the awesome sound of many newer albums.
If you’re looking for a much less over-produced Blind Guardian with older thrash metal influences and melody, Shadow Demon is the band to follow. If this were the late 80’s, many might call this power metal, but today that term often refers to something else. Shadow Demon are more of an old school thrash band with vocals that are gruff yet melodic. There is no trendy core or other such bullshit to be found. When you dig beneath the surface of their brand of thrash, there is aggressive power metal and traditional metal to be found. These guys definitely are onto the exact style of metal that I love. With more experience and with a larger recording budget for one of the A-list studios they will be right up there in the upper echelons of this style….now if only they are given the chance to prove just that!
1. A Dream of Dreams
2. Drums of War
3. The Dark Citadel : Part I (The Shifter)
4. ...And The Meek
5. Brave Murder Day
6. Waking Among The Dead
7. Umbris Mortis
8. Sea The Oblivion
Blaine Hammond - Lead Vocals
Jeff Helm - Rhythm Guitars, Vocals
James Rinker - Bass, Vocals
Jay Davidson - Drums
Ryan Gallagher - Lead Guitars
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