Demonical – Chaos Manifesto (2018) REVIEW

The hardest part of unpacking the nearly thirty years of history behind an artist like Martin Schulman is resisting and endless stream of mentions for all of the other musicians he’s involved in his main project Centinex and this alter-ego (Demonical) that has become just as important. I’d personally lost interest in Centinex around ‘Hellbrigade’ in 2001 and the band would split up around 2006 to form Demonical. ‘Servants of the Unlight’ was a reawakening perhaps because Johan Jansson (Interment, Dellamorte) took over guitars/vocals and the fresh start breathed new life into the project despite much of the same musicians being involved. Demonical has continued beyond the reformation of Centinex in 2014 as the sound and guitar tone evolved to be more clearly HM-2 buzzsaw in tone a la retro style bands with bigger budgets like Entrails.

This might be confusing to follow but, the way I justify the two bands existing with largely the same line-up is that Demonical really is the continuation of Centinex‘ semi-melodic traditional Swedish death metal path they’d taken previous to the 00’s and Centinex‘ latest material seems to venture away from the more typical Swedish guitar sound. Centinex ‘Doomsday Rituals’ from 2016 seems written as the sort of death metal that translates well to a huge open-air festival and by contrast ‘Chaos Manifesto’ dances between the old school Swedish Sunlight Studios guitar buzz and a melodic variant that Centinex had a hand in the mid-90’s. This was echoed in ‘Darkness Unbound’ to a smaller degree already. The biggest change to Demonical‘s sound since 2013 is that previous vocalist/guitarist Sverker Widgren (Diabolical) has left Demonical and now only provides guitars in Centinex. Since the reformation of Centinex in 2014 Alexander Högbom (October Tide) provides vocals for both Demonical and Centinex. I know this has been tedious but at least I didn’t try to explain the entire history of the band with a geneology chart.

The brilliantly loud production, and nods to melodic death metal, that made ‘Darkness Unbound’ intriguing in 2013 have been amplified by Karl Daniel Lidén who had done a great job with Disrupted‘s ‘Morbid Death’ among several other independent Swedish artists. It is the clearest sounding version of Demonical yet and picks up the torch from Sverker Widgren admirably after he’d engineered or produced everything by the band from 2006 until 2016 or so. I felt like the melodic sensibilities of the album could have been cranked up even more without losing steam, but I appreciate that ‘Chaos Manifesto’ adds some new interest to Demonical‘s discography. I was slightly bored by the shift towards more anthemic feeling songs after “Torture Parade” towards the end of the album and they dulled the close of the record for me because it only seemed to iterate on the ideas on the stronger first half.

Once I’d finished picking through the cool melodic parts and marveling at the enormous sound of this album I don’t know if it’ll stand out for me in a huge way this year, but it was impressive to see Demonical differentiated from Centinex in a few smart ways. If the new direction of this band is coupling that Swedish buzzsaw guitar mountain with melodic death elements then I’m excited to see what they’ll do next. On some level much of ‘Chaos Manifesto’ should seem old hat after listening to a million Swedish death metal records with the same distortion sound since the 90’s, but I still managed to get a kick out of ‘Chaos Manifesto’ for it’s intensity and semi-melodic variation. Highlights for me include “Towards Greater Gods”, “Torture Parade” and odd arena rock feel of “Välkommen Undergång”.


Artist Demonical
Type Album
Released March 23, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Agonia Records Bandcamp! Follow Demonical on Facebook

Clouds of steel. 3.5/5.0

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