Demonstealer This Burden Is Mine 2016In my almost three years of reviewing for AngryMetalGuy.com, very few things surprise me anymore. Yet, while doing research for This Burden Is Mine, the second album by Indian one-man project Demonstealer, I hopped onto their Facebook page, and realized just how prolific one Sahil Makhija, aka The Demonstealer, is. Not only is he the guitarist and vocalist on here (as well as in his main band, Demonic Resurrection), but he also runs his own eponymous record label (which is also India’s first extreme metal label). He also has his own online cooking blog. In fact, the first thing I saw on Facebook was was a link to a YouTube video for making bacon cake. I didn’t know such a concoction of magnificence even existed on this lowly plane, proving that magic does indeed manifest on Earth.

Okay, so what of the album? That’s where things get a little bit tricky to explain. Not because the quality is low (for the most part, it’s a good record), but rather This Burden Is Mine plays almost like an aural resumé for Makhija’s songwriting. Take opener “How the Mighty Have Fallen,” the heaviest song on the album. It starts off with some brutal riffing and deep growls, with some blasts by none other than George Kollias (Nile). It must be said that this sounds nowhere near as fast as Kollias’ main band, as it remains at a clip akin to early 2000s metalcore, á la Shadows Fall. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it should be noted in case you were hoping for the annihilation of all things wicked. For whatever reason, though, the song becomes a ballad, with Makhija singing over a simplified melody. Thankfully, the song returns to a faster clip for the final two minutes.

This Burden Is Mine‘s strength (and biggest weakness) lies in the variety of the genres and tempos covered. No two songs sound the same on here. When Demonstealer keeps to the heavier, riffier end of the metal spectrum, it produces some great results. “When Hope Withers and Dies” rides in on a tight opening riff recalling Slaughter of the Soul-era At the Gates, Makhija’s strong thrash vocals (which are reminiscent to Shadows Fall‘s Brian Fair), and some pretty tasty sweeps by Demonic Resurrection band mate Nishith Hegde. “Where Worlds End” starts off sounding like a slightly muffled Nightwish, with keyboards all aflutter, before dipping its toes into slightly heavier waters. Album closer “From Rubble and Ruin” thankfully brings the fire and the fury, with one helluva scream from 2:17-2:34, some tasty leads by Hegde, as well as heavy-duty pummeling by Kollias to bring the album to a satisfying close.

Demonstealer Band 2016

As for the album variety being a weakness, there are some troubling sections that give me pause. There’s no polite way to put this, but the aforementioned halfway point of “How the Mighty Have Fallen” nearly killed the song dead in its tracks. Had that part been placed in a different song (like, say, follow-up “An Unforgiving Truth”), it would have fit better, as the first half was blistering, albeit long. And speaking of “An Unforgiving Truth,” it’s not a very strong song until it hits the heavier second half, where it eschews the Katatonia-lite balladry entirely to land in thrashier waters. In fact, when there’s so many genre changes, it does interrupt the overall flow of the album, especially since I referenced At The GatesNightwishKatatonia, and Shadows Fall in the context of one album. Another problem is the album’s production, which is squashed pretty bad. You can barely hear Ashwin Shriyan’s (Demonic Resurrection) bass, which is a shame, as when he does pop out, you can hear him playing his ass off. Also, Kollias’ drums sound muffled, especially in the bass drums, and if there’s ever a drummer you don’t want to have sound all quiet and docile, it’s Kollias.

Still, there’s no doubting Makhija’s convictions, nor where his heart lies, and the good does outweigh the bad overall. The fact that the dude’s not only juggling two bands, but his own extreme metal label AND a metal-themed cooking blog speaks volumes of his loyalty to all things metal. I see great things in his future if he keeps at it and does away with the abrupt style changes within songs. Also, I want that damn bacon cake.

 


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Demonstealer Records
Website: demonstealer.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/DemonstealerOfficial
Releases Worldwide: March 25th, 2016

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  • This reminds me of someone trying to let someone down easy after a date that in itself wasn’t bad, it’s just that well, there are no feelings there. Sorry.

    Also, I strongly recommend NOT watching the video while you listen to the song or the urge to laugh when the keyboards come in may overcome you.

    • Tom Swinnen

      My god, that video. It’s kinda hilarious and very difficult to take this man seriously. Song’s not too bad though.

      • Demonstealer

        Happens sometimes when you are on a budget :)

        • Tom Swinnen

          Budget should not really be an excuse. I’d say it’s more of a question of having a good script/storyboard and then using the budget you have making the most out of that.

          • Demonstealer

            Ah well. It is what it is. I’ll live with it and take the good and the bad comments. Not much else I can really do :) if people enjoy the song then that’s good enough for me.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Mmmm…. Bacon. Now I’m seeing strips of bacon on the cover art, fluttering in the breeze among the poles. Or is that Prosciutto?

    • Bart the Repairman

      Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

    • Bacon, Prosciutto… it’s all wonderful. Is it just me or does he look like Gene Hoglan, too?

      • Blueberry Balls

        Not even a slight resemblance.

        • Yeah, I guess you’re right. Not sure what I was seeing there.

        • Demonstealer

          looks like i got a new display picture for facebook :)

          • Blueberry Balls

            Fire it up.

  • Didn’t watch the video as I listened to the song, so I probably liked it more as a result. His other band, Demonic Resurrection, seems pretty solid, too.

    • Demonstealer

      thank you :) glad you like DR :)

      • You bet. Just bought The Demon King. Looking forward to exploring the rest of your catalog.

        • Demonstealer

          Thank you so much bro, really appreciate it :)

  • After watching that bacon cake video and reading this review, I so badly wanted to like this. I agree, this guys heart is definitely in the right direction and theres bits and pieces of the music that are good, but this guy is no Dan Swano, he needs more substance to the music….maybe some bacon….and cheese!

    • Demonstealer

      hahaha well Dan is in a league of his own. :)

  • Darren

    I pressed play expecting to hate this…and found myself quite enjoying it after all! Perhaps a bit of judicious editing would have taken it to the next level but there really is a lot to like.

  • madhare

    I actually don’t get the supposed problem with the video. Out of all
    metal videos probably 40% are just boring and bland, 25% are
    pure crap, 25% are embarrassingly stupid (out of which 5% are so bad they are funny, like Call of the Wintermoon), and just 10% are any good.

    It’s a video by a relative newcomer with a budget. So I don’t see why this would deserve any more mockery than the others.

    And the visual production quality is actually pretty good. Here’s a guy who knows – or whose collaborators know – their way around video production, graphics and stuff (looking at the blog channel & promo pics too). Which is far more than can be said for many MAJOR bands.

    Music-wise, I thought the embedded track is pretty okay. Like he himself says in one of his videos, bands should strive to have an original sound. From the review it sounds perhaps he should listen to his own words, and settle on a single style. Or at least a more narrow spectrum of styles. Perhaps that could be the key to forging his very own distinctive thing.

    Looking forward to see what this man comes up with in the future.

    • Demonstealer

      Thank you for the kind words :) About the settling on a ‘style’ that’s just me as a person. Been doing this for 16 years now and I’m one of those people who just can’t do 1 thing, I’ve always had multiple bands and projects. Always got my fingers in too many pies from label to promoter to booking agent to PR. etc. I can’t even keep the same handwriting in a paragraph so that’s exactly what you hear on the album. The most honest representation of myself :)

      • Antorus

        Really enjoyed the embedded track, that’s some very tasty riffing and the vocals were solid, but the switch in ‘How the might have fallen’ really killed it for me, as people mentioned. I’ll keep an eye out for future records! I imagine it must not be easy to play and run an extreme metal label in India (especially an extreme metal label) and I hope you guys do well.

      • madhare

        Yeah, I noticed from the videos that you’ve been doing this for awhile. My “relative newcomer” mostly meant that you don’t have EMI backing you up and hiring tens of stylists and Ridley Scott to do your videos. :D

        I totally get that you as a person want to do different things. But as someone who teaches marketing and branding, I can tell you that the markets don’t care about an “honest representation of” you. They want a product, not you.

        You might consider setting up different bands etc. for your range of styles. So that each has a distinct style, although still containing enough variation so that it doesn’t become dull.

        Selling services, like music, is all about creating expectations and then fulfilling them. For example, think about food (the other favourite subject on this blog). If you order a khichdi, you don’t want the first bite to taste like khichdi, the second bite to taste like gulab jamun, the third bite to taste like pepperoni pizza, and then like khichdi again.

        And it’s all about the branding, not even so much the product itself. You can put the same showel gel into a Dove bottle, a Lux bottle, and an Axe/Lynx bottle – maybe just add a hint of different parfume on each – and you’ll sell the same stuff for three different groups. And some of them will even buy both Lux and Dove. While all the money still goes to the same Unilever bank account in the Cayman Islands.

        With separating your styles to different projects, you get to remain yourself and do everything, but the consumers get something which is coherent and “makes sense” to them. It’s also about differentiating yourself. It’s hard to say what makes your band unique or at least different from all the others (hence worth buying) if you’re all over the place.

        Sure, we talk about “authenticity” in music and arts, but that’s just
        another branding quality. Like Ensiferum is supposedly about this
        “authentic Finnish pagan history”, but there is no such thing. It doesn’t exists in reality, because all Finnish pagan culture was wiped out by Swedish Christians hundreds of years ago and nobody really knows anything about it. Ensiferum has
        cobbled together bits and pieces from the Finns, Swedes, Scots, Irish,
        Americans, etc. into a combination which makes them different from others, and have successfully marketed their package as “authentic” pagan metal. Total work of fiction but brilliant branding.

        Sorry, for the long rant. Got into my lecture mood. That’ll be 250 euros for consulting, thank you. ;)

        • Demonstealer

          hjahaha the money is in your account. And yes I totally get what you are saying, I do have Demonic Resurrection, Reptilian Death and Workshop which are my 3 projects. This is my 2nd solo album. Again I do understand and know no one gives a shit about my honest expression they will listen and either like it or hate it and either buy it or move on. I am totally ready for that, I guess I’m just putting my perspective out on why it is that way. :) Like basically even the next solo album will be this mixture of stuff most likely, or maybe not, we’ll see what kind of inspiration strikes and well. I’m quite enjoying this conversation :)

        • Tom Hardy

          That’s one way to look at it, however, an artist has the ability to choose what he/ she wants to present to the world. Be it music, sculpture, paint, film and so forth. An artist who sways to what madhare for instance would like to hear or someone else sitting front row and move away from what the artist wants to express, you have what’s called a sell out. When say DM was up on the rise, there were bands who switched from BM to cater to the audience and while they’re unfortunately popular, they won’t have my respect. Then there are those who don’t care and have the artistic probity to express what they want to express free of an expectation of what an audience would want to hear. In this realm, roles are not switched where an artist sits in his trailer reading/ rehearsing lines while the audience waits for him/ her in the director’s chair.

          That’ll be 0 euros. Cheerio.

          • madhare

            :D
            Yes, an “artist” has the ability to choose what to present to the world. However, we’re not really discussing art in the full sense of the word. I know we call musicians “artists” but they are not artists in the same sense as people doing so called “fine arts”. I don’t mean anything about how we value them, but simply by how they earn their living.

            People in “fine arts” are sometimes supported by grants, wealthy patrons, and other things which are designed so that the artist can be completely independent. But people doing popular arts – be it music, movies, or whatnot – need to create a product that can be sold. So it’s always a compromise between being artistic and being commercial. Of course this applies to some people in “fine arts” as well. (Yeah, sure you can have a day job while you’re making your first albums but most successful bands probably have to move on to being full time musicians sooner or later.)

            That is what I mean that “authenticity of the artist” in metal is more to do with perception than reality. They all need to sell. It’s only when the balancing act between the art and commercial fails (in the eyes of the fans) that we call them “sell outs”.

            Of course, you can just ignore all the money aspects and express your artistry in your basement alone in total freedom. (most-tr000-kvlt-ever!)