Two promising demos from 2017: Sickness (Finland) and Moenen of Xezbeth (Belgium)


Extreme metal should have always remained lo-fi, a sentiment previously expressed and one to abide by. In a technologically advanced age, however, a tendency such as this could be construed as mere gimmick if the grime doesn’t in fact conceal layers of genuine substance. But when said substance is in place, the gimmick can be interpreted as manifesto and a way to sever all links with the tawdry mainstream. Like how forerunners of black metal used corpse paint to submerge the ego, a buried production in the right hands can eliminate all distraction and elevate the music to rightful preeminence. See, then, how this form of music, so popular today, reasserts its iconoclastic, introverted character. As it should.

Surprisingly, there is a sort of unorganized movement coalescing around this re-emergent metal philosophy, well-worth investigating for the curious fan (interested readers would be well-directed to Youtube user Greg Biehl who seems to have his finger on the pulse of this scene). The following two demos of recent vintage are fine examples of just this adjusted mindset:

Sickness – Deus Maledictus Est
This recording presents eleven pocket-sized songs done in the old Repulsion, Morbid Angel (Thy Kingdom Come), Insanity (mid-80s demos), and Necrovore style. Those names aren’t idly taken; Deus Maledictus Est is a frighteningly accurate reproduction of a bygone era, but don’t let the reproduction part dissuade you; the spirit coursing through these songs can’t be dismissed as plain imitation. That spirit is the same from Black Sabbath through to the present day; it remains eternal and it is metal itself. Intricate, turn-on-a-dime, and unremittingly violent, Deus Maledictus Est couches death metal in the brisk, grindcore song format; in doing so, it rids itself of all potential filler and perhaps even points yet another way forward for the genre. The banshee vocals are definitely a sideshow, but they don’t stop this little thirteen minute sampler from being one of the most re-galvanizing death metal outings in recent times.

Moenen of Xezbeth – Dawn of Morbid Sorcery
Epic and mystical like the Conan The Barbarian soundtrack, Dawn of Morbid Sorcery references tonally-rich underground legends like Thergothon and Avzhia. But Moenen of Xezbeth don’t allow themselves to become lost in sentimental atavism like so many bands playing dress-up; there is red-stained steel to this album and it reemphasizes the band’s music as a commentary on matters larger-than-life from a cold and impersonal vantage point. Judging from the grasp of pacing and development in evidence here, Moenen of Xezbeth would be entirely at home with a longer running-time, too. If the aim of a demo is to provide a primer of the band’s strengths, then Dawn of Morbid Sorcery is a resounding success.

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6 Responses to Two promising demos from 2017: Sickness (Finland) and Moenen of Xezbeth (Belgium)

  1. Vermin Of The Gnosis says:

    Why do you think that the founders of black metal used corpse paint to submerge the ego? Second wavers were notoriously childish and self centered. After all, a kid who goes around telling everyone he meets that his demo can only be enjoyed by a handful of worthy elites does not strike me as person looking to submerge his ego.

    • To my knowledge, Per Ohlin and the guys in Sarcofago were the first to use corpse paint the way we know it. Ohlin certainly was a little off in the head, but I don’t believe there was anything of the rock star about him. If you think you’re a walking corpse, as a result of neuroses or otherwise, then ego probably doesn’t factor into it.

      I get what you’re saying. For the longest time, I believed a lot of underground extreme metal to be made by idiot savants, but now I feel that’s a very dismissive line to take. Utterly contradictory attitudes can exist inside the same person. As interpreters separated from the main event by time and distance, all we can do is interpret the event *only* and leave the rest out of it.

  2. Belano says:

    Interesting what you say here and in your article: “Underground extreme metal should have always stayed lo-fi”. I think, like you, that behind this there can be an authenticity that could allow the artist to express with a more “genuine substance”. But I think that this kind of production or a more polished one can be copied and made tendency by the industry. So, at the end, the rebellious act of using the lo-fi production only works in a context where this kind of production is not valued as worthy. In other words, I think the real honesty results when the artist looks into his own context and uses the production -as his music, obviously- as a way of expression, more than a production per se in an abstract sense.

    After reading this article I looked for the two demos and found that Decibel Magazine has talked about them in a section they have had sinceJanuary 2016 titled “Demo: listen”. And Decibel isn’t an underground zine. So the risk I see here is that this new “demo lo-fi production in tape” could turn into the new “cool” tendency. We’ll see.

    • I don’t think we should be caring about what outlet gives honest exposure to decent music. I understand where you’re coming from, but like you say, innocent until proven guilty, right?

      • Belano says:

        Yeah, you’re right. In any case, it’s nice to see a new interest for doing and reviewing demos. had also published a recent article on demos. Here, in Peru, there’s also a new revival of recording tape demos. So, it seems to be a global tendency. The only problem to me is that i’ve lost the habit of listening to tapes since the early 90’s, hehe, but, well, I think I wil have to dig out my old cassette player.

  3. Pingback: Thy Feeble Saviour – And Darkness Fell (2018) | Old Disgruntled Bastard

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