Brothers Lord Apollyon and Sirokous have long served as guardians of the exclusive and long-storming graveyard that cradles the corpses of Hellenic black metal’s forgotten underground masters. Enraptured by the filth and the fury of the black arts since 1992 the brothers Karras in conspiracy with Jim Necrochrist (Darkest Oath) have long offered the most grisly lo-fi mutations of Athens, Greece based black metal fanaticism. Their style on the 1994 ‘Night of the Infernal Lords’ was not far from Rotting Christ or Mortuary Drape of the era and they’d iterate strongly on their ’95 demo until an odd Nergal-like symphonic edge crept into the unusual ‘The Blood Is the Life, the Only Path to… Immortality’ demo from 1996. The occult interest and sharp sound was there but between the Falkenbach-esque mid-paced drum machine and odd symphonic experimentation weren’t yet up to par with their fast moving peers.
The cruel beast of the age was black metal’s galvanizing popularity and insistence upon the Norwegian code of brutality and few sincere Hellenic projects iterated during the explosion of bands like Emperor, with many following the gothic tones of Rotting Christ or ducking out entirely. 1998 saw Medieval Demon realizing their first full-length, an impossibly low-fidelity recording that might have been an incredible coffin-bursting demonic force of nature had it not been so under-produced to the point of being nearly inaudible. If Greek black metal has a ‘Breeding the Spawn’ moment, it is surely ‘Demonolatria’. Also of note is that it was the first release to not feature Lord Apollyon and also the last as the band would soon split up afterwards.
Reformed and rearmed in 2013 the revival wouldn’t fully come to form until 2018 with their second album appearing a full twenty years after the first. Properly recorded but no less raw or jagged in their olden ways ‘Medieval Necromancy’ features their original guitarist providing great tribute and less ham-fisted mastery over the classic Greek style of black metal. Of course nothing about the album is polished to perfection and the rough edged mix is intentionally evocative of a new and brimming age as it rose in the early 90’s. For all of it’s smaller flaws a greater amount of character exists for Medieval Demon and this personality carries the album high.
Compositions are generally ambitious and set around 5-7 minutes on average. The loud and powerfully contrasting use of keyboards again provide an early Nergal or later Abhor-like experience but never reach into full symphonic black metal territory. This will be an exciting discovery for fans of Greek black metal as it embodies all classic traits, good and bad, of that scene while making the experience their own beast. The menacing incantations of Sirokous are savage and a constant driver forward for the relatively progressive and extended compositions that ‘Medieval Necromancy’ is built upon. Inherent rawness and melodic candor aside, the loudness of the keyboards in the mix is still slightly off and the reading of “Les Litanies de Satan” is wild at first, then annoying with repeated listens. Not huge missteps but a couple of annoyances that come from many listens.
The true standouts that sold me on this record were plentiful as “Moldy Wings of Death”, “Chthonic Curses” and especially “Invisible Black Ritual” bring incredible riffs and keyboard work while the title track provides one of many examples of stellar bass performance throughout. This second full-length has conjured Medieval Demon‘s rightful placement as protectors of the old ways and should be worthwhile for fans of the quirk, jank, and ultimate darkness of early Hellenic black metal style. The listening experience was exceptional in terms of really providing an adventure to follow and an impressive palette of tones and moods to work with; I found I could easily just let the record play and only got up to skip the horny (with empathy for Satan) French women on track four. A great return and a worthy listen.
|Released||June 22nd, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Hell’s Headbangers’ Bandcamp!||Follow Medieval Demon on Facebook|
Melodic Black Metal
All secret arsenals known. 3.75/5.0
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