Released: 2004, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Every so often, a reviewer gets to wade through the dross of metal that moves across his or her desk and pluck out a little, unassuming disc that just blows him or her away. Case in point: Demonoid’s RIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE. Though it isn’t stated anywhere in the packaging, Demonoid is a side project led by three members of Therion and the former drummer of Soilwork and Chimaira. Apparently the project had been on the backburner for awhile due to time restrictions with Therion, but brothers Kristian and Johan Niemann resurrected it in 2002 and put the album together with the help of bandmate Christofer Johnsson on vocals and Rickard Evensand on drums. Do not expect the bombastic, epic stuff that Therion is doing these days, either. This is some fierce, heavy music that draws inspiration from death and thrash of the late 80s and early 90s with just a dash of black metal, as well. Johnsson even finds his voice of old, that which was present on the early Therion records in all its guttural splendor. The guitarwork is just phenomenal and Evensand’s drumming is powerful in all its glory.
Lyrically, RIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE draws its inspiration from the biblical tale of the Four Horsemen (Riders) of the Apocalypse, although the message is very anti-religion, in that, the Judeo-Christian teachings are the reason for most of the world’s current and historical problems. For those unfamiliar with the story, it tells how the ignorance and selfishness of mankind nearly wiped us all out. God repeatedly brought his wrath upon Man for various crimes but, still, dumb-asses that we are, failed to change our ways. An elite group passes judgment that Man will never learn and summons the total annihilation of the human race. The Four Horsemen descend upon Earth to unleash the deathblow, but they decide to leave one man alive to pick up the pieces and live eternally as a witness to the power of God. (**Looking around, it seems the evil jockeys need to make another visit!)
The nine tracks are broken up into three chapters. Tracks 1-3 tell the tale of a few of Mankind’s most heinous crimes. Tracks 4-6 outline the punishments of the Gods and how the Riders come to be. The last three tracks explain in detail the Riders arrival and their swath of destruction.
“Wargods” opens with some blazing drumwork by Evensand. Evensand powers through a minute and a half long drum instrumental during “Firestorm” that just knocks you off your feet. It states in the CD booklet that “no fucking samples or triggers were used,” making the sound even more impressive. Kristian Niemann’s solo is chillingly good, while he executes a perfect ode to thrash/melodic through his riffing. On “Witchburners,” Johnsson’s vicious roar never lets up and the double-tracked vocals in the chorus are simply amazing. Things slow down to a mid-tempo barrage of technical instrumentation on “14th Century Plague” and the female vocals (not sure by who) that trickle in for “The Evocation” show that Demonoid has more behind them than just speed and aggression. “Hunger My Consort” is a return to the heavy thrash sound and the intro to this song just slays! The icing on the cake, though, is when they put Metallica to shame with chants of, “DIE! DIE! DIE!” This track is heavy as hell and absolutely brilliant. “Arrival of the Horsemen” builds ever so slowly to an all-out thrash assault. The lyrics of this song are powerful in and of themselves, but the whammy bar riffs and pummeling drums make it one of the best tracks on the CD.
RIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE is absolutely perfect from start to finish. It slays, smokes, rocks, kicks ass, kills...there aren't even enough metal superlatives to praise it. The production, artwork, lyrics, story, musicianship and vocals could not be any better. Since Demonoid is a side project, it remains unclear if a follow-up will be recorded but for now, the band has delivered one of the essential CDs of 2004. The only other thing I can say is get out and buy it…NOW!
KILLER KUTS: All, but especially “Wargods,” “Witchburners,” “Hunger My Consort” and “Arrival of the Horsemen”