DEMONIAC – So It Goes (2020)REVIEW

All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.” — We pull from Vonnegut’s best remembered stance (via the essential Slaughterhouse-Five) in Heraclitus’ river, pieced together in an imaginative world of fourth dimensional planetoid specific gender, remarkably forward-thinking stoicism amidst societal collapse, and in plainest dry-eyed view of an existence that’d incite the destruction of the universe. It is no use shrinking away from death and mortality, men cannot afford such frailty in the dramatic throes of the anthropocene just as they couldn’t (and didn’t) whenever the world’s most infamous wars began to sprout sequels. When the worst has happened, death, the Tralfamadorians in this novel retain their glorious count with “So it goes.” This is only seemingly in a Buddhist frame of mind where life is fleeting and any personal fixation is irreverence towards the flow of time — The continuum supersedes all and there -will- be a future nonetheless… After the war, at least. Vonnegut’s presentation of death is itself a consistent flatlining, a mirror of the desensitization that massive death brings to populations who’d rather bury their heads and well, maybe that is the enlightenment the western world never took seriously enough via what disparate fragments of Heraclitus survive us. A dead body is simply one unfortunate state in one period of time, all moments in life should be seen as a vignette to re-experience with an accompanying thumbs up or thumbs down. Here we see a post-Jungian authorship meaningfully crossing some substantial criticism of anglicized Christianity with “eastern” religious live-and-let-live ideals; The clash is substantial and the potential for avant-garde thought beyond has rarely been exercised with as much charm or creativity in the years since 1969. “Dry leaves know that it isn’t wrong to be, for a short time a new sprout in the ancestral tree.” The final lyrical statement offered on the ~20 minute finale/title track from Limache, Chile-based progressive thrash metal band Demoniac‘s second album ‘So It Goes‘ shows us this death’s-head enlightenment has reached them by all means, having unlocked some incredible high-level true thrash metal within.

Even a most cursory skim of any Demoniac release should clarify the two worlds they represent internally: 80’s Teutonic thrash metal worship (and by virtue, Bay Area thrash-sized ambition), much in the extreme style their countrymen have perfected over the last four decades, and the intensely calculated rise of technical and progressive thrash metal acts in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s. While it may sound like we’re one late 90’s Death reference away from something intensely boring in fact Demoniac are something else entirely in practice. They’d put out a few things after forming in 2011 but it did seem like their second demo (‘The Unacceptable Truth‘, 2014) would fully fuse in mindset with the second Hexen record, ‘Being and Nothingness’. This comparison would find secure confirmation in the nigh neoclassical prog-thrash bent to the riffing on their full-length debut (‘Intemperance‘, 2017). Now, if you’re like me and you love that final Hexen record you can safely buy all of Demoniac‘s discography without hearing a single note of it; You’re in, and it’ll be a massive pit of love for your taste. Granted this doesn’t account for the other face of the band, the ‘Persecution Mania’ loving Sadus-toothed riff hounding attack they’ve cultivated from the start but it all floods together in a myriad storm of technicolor fatal existentialism that is ‘So It Goes’. There is more to the experience than this but it is the best way to begin framing the complex machine whirring within.

As a thought experiment within a cobwebbed mind palace, let’s suggest you’re a fanatic for progressive thrash metal without any raw thought towards gruff vocals. Mekong Delta‘s debut (and the brilliant ‘The Music of Erich Zann‘ for that matter) is actually the place to start musing over the delight of Demoniac‘s developmental successes over the past decade. Classical music inspired riffs that form complete, imaginative statements without relying upon neoclassical shred norms is such an under-served lineage despite the potential it brings for unexpected instrumentation. The surrealistic ooze of the clarinet that slithers in animation of “Extraviado” should be a revelation for nowadays thrash metal bands bashing out worship riffs in their bedroom, these wildest ideas pay off so much more than “easy” bland idolatry. From there we could fold in equal parts Sadus and Blind Illusion, two classic bands with prominent technical fusion at the core of their experience and each with profound bass guitar statements centering their genius; This creates the torso of ‘So It Goes’, the gears rather than the brain. I could go on with the old school references, I mean Deathrow‘s last two albums do briefly come to mind during certain pieces, but it’d distract from what impressive work Demoniac devise on their own terms through technical speed metal riffing, memorable lead guitar work, and anthemic thrash metal affect. The three part suite that kicks off the album “RSV – Fool Coincidence – Testigo” is only the first of several steaming shred guitar heavy reveals, trembling piano scales and this surrealistic-yet-affirming form of “evil” technical thrash metal with quite a big, ever-juicing brain commanding the innards to dance with the biggest movements possible. Lifesblood for the tech-thrash savvy folks delivered straight to the veins via aggressively scowling eye daggers.

Early in my traipsing through these mental corridors of harried thrash metal delve it’d dawned upon me that ‘So It Goes’ itself appears to breathe in and reflect upon its own anxieties even if you’ve no ear for the primarily Spanish sung pieces at the heart of the experience. “The Trap” and “Equilibrio Fatal” offer the adrenaline-charged shaking hands of late 80’s European thrash metal standards without the riff salad syndrome so many would fall ill to. These are effective songs which solidify the melodic motifs that persist throughout ‘So It Goes’ yet they are also the most typical pieces for Demoniac as they’ll recall the shape and size of their approach on ‘Intemperance’. Much like Cryptic Shift‘s brilliant album from earlier this year nearly one half of the length of ‘So It Goes’ is devoted to a multi-part ~20 minute song, in this case the aforementioned title track that ends the album. This is a huge risk to take and well, a reward worth earning. Oddly enough this was the first single released when the album was announced, certainly a bold move but also the best way to communicate all virtues that Demoniac bring to this willfully evolved second album. Hints of South American death/thrash spike up here (see: Dorsal Atlântica‘s ‘Searching For the Light‘) as the song works through anger beyond the initial despair of the piece, which includes the most demanding and ornate bass guitar runs of the album. By and large this song reinforces the most commanding moments of the songs that precede it whilst shaping this portion of the experience into one very personal existential narrative. This is a body high manifesto from an inverted perspective, lashing away at the preying hands of societal illness and the devolving mindshare of monotheism. Hitting the ~12 minute mark we’re given that rhythmic black/thrash metal snarl in full force and in very sparing form before the strange fruit of the clarinet returns to ease its mystifying tarantella into the piece, accompanied by lead guitar as they provide a road back to thrashing about. I’m not sure the full scope of the song will be fully realized within just one focused sitting, perhaps ten or so, and it sounds a bit dry in description but this piece is vital as the core statement of the whole album and not just because it is extremely long.

In hindsight the listening experience took about 2-3 full listens to sink in as an intellectual/emotional concurrence and I’d say roughly ten to fifteen spins to fully appreciate its broader strokes. I’d bought the vinyl version around the fifth spin, it being in a style of thrash metal I not only love but have closely studied and collected this last decade or so. I wholly recognize the sentience of ‘So It Goes’ as an album which goes a few steps beyond self-actualization to embody multiple philosophical perspectives being mulled over by a distressed (yet wise) mind, some of which feel entirely free and others which represent terminal self-imprisonment. As a gorgeous, flavor-crammed outlier shoving its razor sharp riffs into my ears for months, it almost feels sour to reveal Demoniac to the undeserving masses. Let it be savored and not devoured. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (95/100)

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.
TITLE:So It Goes
LABEL(S):Edged Circle Productions
RELEASE DATE:December 11th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Progressive Thrash Metal,
Avant-Garde Thrash Metal

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