This is the fourth full-length LP for Poland’s Demonic Slaughter and their debut for Pagan Records. There are also three EPs and a split with their fellow countrymen Deception (Worshippers of the Darkness, on Hellthrasher Productions), for those who are interested in tracking down the back catalog. Having heard a bunch of this band’s earlier releases, I have to say that Downfall is their best work yet. The songs are tighter and the production here is far better than everything else in their discography to date. Over the years, Demonic Slaughter has developed a sound that is reminiscent of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas-era Mayhem, with vocalist Xaos Oblivion sounding more than a little like Attila on top of it all. I personally like that because De Mysteriis… was one of the best sounding Black Metal recordings ever. The guitars were nice and thick and loud, contrasting sharply with the “freezing cold” (read: no bass) guitars that so many other bands were using at the time. Downfall has an almost Death Metal level of heaviness in the guitar tones, and for me, that’s a positive. It gives the music more brutality and also an air of darkness that the “freezing cold” tone lacks. If there’s a flaw in this recording, it’s that it sounds a bit too much like old Mayhem. The obvious influence aside, this is some impressive Black Metal that has just enough melody to get your head banging, and enough power behind it to kick your ass. My favorite track has got to be the closer, “Cold and Haunted,” because it has an almost Folkish hook in the song that really sticks out. If that’s an omen of things to come, I think their next release will really be something special.
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