Album Title: Mass Destroyer
Label: Agonia Records
Date of Release: 6 May 2022
I know that I have said this before, but the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t been entirely bad news for the music industry. Of course, it goes without saying that the vast majority of us would have preferred the world to remain unhindered by the catastrophe, particularly seeing as many of us suffered horrendously as a direct result, both personally and professionally. But, if we’re looking for a small sliver of a silver lining, it would be that the enforced incarceration has led to a glut of new material from all corners of the globe. Bands that would usually adhere to the strict record-tour-record cycle instead ploughed their energy into creating brand new material, many bringing us albums or EPs much more quickly than they otherwise might have done.
One such band that has done just that, is Swedish death metal unit, Demonical. Less than two years since releasing ‘World Domination’ in 2020, the quintet have returned to wreak havoc once again with their own brand of hard-hitting Swedish death metal very much in the ‘Stockholm’ vein that spawned so much great music over the years.
I’ve got to be honest and say that I am not the most familiar with Demonical as a band. I have heard their music in the past, as they’ve been around for over a decade and a half, and until now, boasted six full-length albums. But I’d be hard-pressed to recall much of it if truth be told. ‘Mass Destroyer’ changes all that though, because it’s a monster in all the right ways. And I shall now be heading back into their back catalogue more closely, too.
From the opening moments to the closing notes, ‘Mass Destroyer’ is a thoroughly excellent death metal release that manages to be most things to most people, without seeming to compromise one iota. This means that you’ll hear a satisfyingly heavy sound, full of aggression delivered for the most part at a healthy pace, albeit without the instrumental gymnastics of others within the death metal scene. It means that the music offers an organic, gritty, and dirty edge, whilst losing nothing in terms of power and clarity. And, crucially for me and those like me, there is a veritable feast of groove, brutal catchiness, and understated melody within the compositions.
Mind you, if we start with my personal favourite track on the album, the incredible ‘Fallen Mountain’, there’s very little that’s understated about the melody, because this is a seriously catchy beast that had me rejoicing from the first time that I heard it. To begin with, it starts at a menacingly slow, stomping pace, whilst it delivers a huge amount of groove in the bruising verses. The guitars of Johan Haglund and Eki Kumpulainen produce lashings of muscular riffs, whilst the bass of Martin Schulman rumbles with a really organic, dirty quality, ably assisting Ronnie Bergerstål’s drums in laying down a rock-solid rhythmic spine. The chorus is one of those that gets lodged in your head, especially with the addition of a key change in the final run through for added epicness, not that vocalist Christofer Säterdal changes his approach, delivering his words with a gloriously gruff, deep growl.
It might be my favourite song, but that doesn’t mean that the other seven tracks aren’t any good. In fact, for the thirty-three or so minutes that ‘Mass Destroyer’ lasts, they deliver wall to wall quality, the kind of music that’s like nectar to those of us who enjoy this style of music.
‘Lifeslave’ is another slower composition, and it is also brilliant. The sheer heaviness of the song means that it’s like getting run over by a marauding steamroller. And although it does pick up a little pace in the verses, it’s the enormously heavy and satisfying riffs of the chorus that make the most impact in my opinion.
Mind you, it’s not just the slower numbers that tickle my fancy. ‘Wrathspawn’ kicks off with a wailing guitar lead and from there, it rips along at a hefty pace, led by the driving rhythms of Bergerstål and Schulman, flattening everything in its path in the process. A song like this wouldn’t be complete without a snarling, gnashing lead solo and Demonical duly oblige here too. Mind you, the follow-up track ‘Dödsmarsch’ barely lowers the frenetic pace, leaving the listener wounded and winded, but in the best possible kind of way. The riffs are electric, the rhythms thunderous and, despite the added pace, there’s room for some melody within the chorus that features some fast-picked riffing for good measure alongside the chunkier playing.
Quite frankly, I could pick out every one of the tracks for special mention, I really could. However, for the sake of Brevity, I’ll just reference the masterful opener, ‘We Conquer The Throne’ which is equal parts ‘Left Hand Path’ era Entombed and ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ era At The Gates. The pace is fast, the riffs intricate, the chorus ridiculously catchy, and the whole thing screams class. To be fair, so does the lead guitar solo that features in the opening to ‘Sun Blackened’, not to mention the addictive slower, groove section that features later in the song. I told you the whole thing is brilliant, and I meant it.
The only problem I have now, is crowbarring this record out of my playlist, because it is so damn enjoyable and infectious. To be fair, were it not for the need to review other albums, I wouldn’t have worried, and instead hit play for what seems like the hundredth time. Ultimately, if you enjoy dirty, organic, and depraved death metal with a flair for groove and melody, then ‘Mass Destroyer’ might just end up being one of your favourite records released this year. Not a minute is wasted, as Demonical return like a ravenous beast intent on pulverising everything in their path…but in a way that means that the victims will go to their graves grinning wickedly, and headbanging until the very end.
The Score of Much Metal: 92%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: