Reviewed: [October 2020]
Released [2020 Agonia Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
While there have been some big changes in the Demonical camp since 2018’s Chaos Manifesto, the Swedish death metal brigade sound as surly and brutal as ever with their sixth offering. World Domination kinda puts it right out there with its title, and the band do their damndest to bulldoze everything in their path with a full-on assault of d-beats and buzz-sawing riffs.
“You cannot outrun the Hellfire Rain,” new vocalist Christofer Sätderdal declares with his burly, assertive growl on the song of the same name. And it’s hard to argue otherwise here. Though he came on board in 2019 following the departure of October Tide’s Alexander Högbom – who joins a longish line of ex-Demonical vocalists – Sätderdal digs right in and sounds comfortable and confident here.
His hollering over the martial swagger of “Victorious” and the curb-stomp trudge of “Aeons of Death.” is especially vehement, recalling a combination of Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg and Entombed A.D.’s LG Petrov, if both were on steroids.
Original drummer Ronnie Bergerstål makes his return to the band after 10 years away here, so along with bassist Martin Schulman Demonical have their original rhythm section anchoring things once again. Their low-end rumble is topped by the muscular guitar clamor of Eki Kumpulainen and Johan Haglund that puts its boot on your throat from the get-go with the bracing “My Kingdom Done.”
Though the overall sound is modestly sleeker here than on Chaos, it is still very much in keeping with the HM-2 pedal-powered abrasiveness that old school Swedish death metal is renowned for. It is certainly no less punishing, especially when Sätderdal opens his maw. Indeed, the additional clarity lends it all a certain grandeur that make it all the bombastic.
Given the brute force that surrounds it, the dramatic, almost ballad-like “Slipping Apart” that features a duet with Astral Doors frontman Nils Patrik Johansson providing a clean vocal contrast to Sätderdal’s grizzly roar provides a rather jarring about face. It sounds way more like Saxon than, say, Dismember – except, of course, when Sätderdal chimes in – and is a curious departure. But hats off to the band for saying “fuck it” and giving it a go, even if the haters are going to, well, hate it. Anyway, an absolute burner in “Calescent Punishment” follows and wraps the album in fine fashion, so no harm, no foul.
It might be tempting to think that the newish blood has given Demonical some new life this time around. But new blood has been a part of most of the band’s albums, given their lineup turmoil over the years. Still, they have never quite slain with the vicious efficiency on display here, so that may indeed be the case.