Wonderbox metal posted about Ukrainian black metal Daemonium’s album Имя Мне Легион (yes, I had to copy and paste that) a few days ago and I’ve had a blast rocking out to the evil ever since. As a consequence of their chosen language, I have even less idea of what they’re saying than I do with most black metal, but I will say this. If they mean it, we’re fucked.
I’ve been listening to a lot of atmospheric black metal lately, and as much as I enjoy the genre (Ghost Bath’s Moonlover still may be my favorite album of the year), Daemonium’s mastery of the straightforward approach to making piss run down the listener’s legs is a welcome detour. They may employ keyboards, but Daemonium doesn’t want to create moody soundscapes with the bottled sound of the cold Nordic wastes. Daemonium wants to flay the skin from atmospheric music’s bones and then stitch it all back together to wear as a suit.
Opening with the deep ominous sounds of an organ accompanied by the lead singer’s ritualistic growls, the first three minutes of the album are spent building up tension and a feeling of encroaching dread, which is entirely suitable given the vicious onslaught that is to follow. For the rest of its running time, the album doesn’t let up. The dynamics do play within a certain range, it’s just that the range happens to stretch from evil to really evil. The lead singer has a fantastic approach to black metal vocals, and at times his growls and screams go so deep they are almost a death rattle. But he doesn’t just rely on his vocal tonality. There is a genuine musicality and sense of freshness to the way he follows the cues the instruments in the band are giving him. He isn’t simply barking along to the music: there is an art to what he’s doing, and plenty of his choices throughout excited and surprised me. Similarly, the instrumental section of the band is rock solid. The rhythm section does a great job of making the song feel like it progresses naturally without feeling phoned in, often being the source of musical change within a riff that is otherwise repeated and letting the listener know not just where the song is, but where it is going. Moving on to the guitars the riffs are great, employing the usual black metal “tremolo pick everything” approach frequently throughout the album, but finding ways to spice it up with licks thrown in mid-riff and interesting lines taken by the second guitar. They employ other tricks from the black metal cookbook with equal aplomb, ringing note-filled passages and stomping riffs that wouldn’t be out of place in death metal used to great effect in furthering the band’s agenda of menace.
The band takes a relatively old-school approach to black metal, but thankfully one area in which they are more modern-leaning is production. Old-school black metal often sounded as though it was recorded in somebody’s outhouse, which made appreciating the intricacies of the good bands difficult, and left the worse bands an unlistenable mush. Everything here is crisp and clear, the production excellent. If a noise is subtle, it’s because it’s meant to be and the riffs and vocals are given some real aural punch. The drums could perhaps be a touch further forward in the mix, but they still come through with a pounding intensity, far from the hollow soulless drums inflicted on the listener by old-school producers. This combination of modern production with an old-school aesthetic results in a powerful, fun black metal album. I may still not know what the hell they’re growling about, but it oozes with murderous intent. There’s a Daemonium song embedded below for all your future laxative needs, and you can check out the full album on the band’s iTunes.