Demonic Resurrection – The Return to Darkness Review

Demonic Resurrection // The Return to Darkness
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —Fundamentally good…
Label: Candlelight Records
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 02.08.2010 | US: American release date unknown

As world metal takes the stage, something that is happening more and more frequently these days, we’re going to be seeing more of these bands coming from places where metal just hasn’t ever shown its face earlier. Demonic Resurrection, as those of you familiar with Sam Dunn’s documentary Global Metal already know, are a band from India who play symphonic black metal. The third record in a trilogy The Return to Darkness is being released (as I understand it) as the band’s first international release via Candlelight Records. That Sam Dunn is a rockstar creating machine, it turns out. Though, when it comes to Demonic Resurrection, their music speaks for itself and if you give that music a stage that myriads of metalheads have access to, it’s not hard to see how they managed to break beyond their borders.

All of that aside, let’s talk about this record. In the vein of Dimmu Borgir, Sigh and Cradle of Filth, Demonic Resurrection is playing symphonic black metal, at its very fundamental levels you’ve got an idea of how that sounds. Pompous orchestrations (played on a keyboard, what kind of budget do you expect?), trem picking, blast beats and enough melody and clean vocal parts to make the music also interesting for goth girls, The Return to Darkness isn’t exactly a groundbreaking record. But at its core, Demonic Resurrection writes good songs. The Return to Darkness is full of solid, memorable melodies and tracks are chalk full of inventive riffing, memorable keyboard parts and great vocals that oscillate between growling and black metal shrieks. Sure, like any record of this genre, there’s the occasional Emperor-worship riff (like the introduction to “Omega, I”), but those are used well and not as common as one would expect.

And there are some great moments on here! The aforementioned “Omega, I” has some clean vocals after the Emperor-worship riff that just rule. Another track with some awesome riffing (though, this is pretty Dimmu Borgir-worship, this time) is “The Unrelenting Surge of Violence”, which lays on the symphonic force with a vengeance and has one of the better “horns and headbanging” parts that I’ve heard on a record in a while; a great (non-hardcore) breakdown part that just rules. But the ultimate standout track on The Return to Darkness is “Lord of Pestilence” which is an 11 minute epic that goes between the bands symphonic black metal side and borderline progressive metal a la Opeth or Ikuinen Kaamos (you know, Opeth), introducing something that the band is very good at. With the band’s melodic strength being what it is, it’s not surprising to me that the band’s clean parts would be as strong as they are—and “Lord of Pestilence” walks that line perfectly making for the easily the most memorable track on the album (with some great guitar solos!). Though, frankly, the record gets better as it goes on. Every song after that point is great.

But The Return to Darkness suffers from some of the worst production (choices) I’ve heard on a record in a long time. Firstly, the drums are so replaced it’s ridiculous and while I understand that this is a genre which replaces drums with glee, the drum tone in this case is really bad. The snare drum sounds like a mid-tom and the bass drums aren’t good either. The toms are Grand Declaration of War-style triggered and replaced and it’s just beyond what I consider to be “good taste” when it comes to production. But then we come to what I consider to be an even greater injustice that has been pushed on the listener to what is an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable record: autotune.

I am aware that autotune is really exciting for producers and musicians. Not only do you not have to be able to sing, but you can also SOUND LIKE A ROBOT!!!!!! But not only has autotune been so overdone in pop that serial abusers of it have written songs about how it’s so dead (click here if you dare), but how on earth does it have a place in metal? When French progressive metallers Cybion used autotune on their record, I sorta understood it (but didn’t like it) because there were parts on the record that were straight up techno, but other than that, I can’t think of a single moment in metal where autotune is even remotely appropriate. So you can imagine how after a blast beat with the shittiest snare drum sound I’ve ever heard showed up on the track “Where Dreams and Darkness Unite”, I was not looking forward to this record at all when vocalist The Demonstealer launched into autotuned vocals.

Fortunately enough for me, the record got better and better after that opening track and aside from these glaring and uncomfortable production choices, Demonic Resurrection is a band that it’s going to be worth watching. Their music is fundamentally good, they write good songs, have good solos and vocals (when they’re not autotuned) and they seem like a talented bunch of dudes. If they can keep their shit together, keep their funding in order and keep expanding their fan base outwards, it’ll be fun to see these dudes take the metal world by storm, and The Return of Darkness is a step in that direction.

Edit: I normally don’t edit reviews. Unless I’ve made some sort of major error, I see no reason why my review is going to change and once I have spewed my opinion onto the interwebs, it’s pretty much there in stone However, I was informed by the Demonstealer that the thing affecting his vocals isn’t autotune but a mophoder, basically Cynic tone, but not so strong. I think it’s important, therefore, to point out that while I don’t like how it sounds (because it sounds like autotune to these ears) these dudes are not using autotune on their vocals and therefore they should not be publicly harassed for it. Yeah, so Angry Metal Guy apologizes for his mistake and corrects the record. Sorry dudes.

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