Demonical – Death Infernal Review

Demonical // Death Infernal
3.0/5.0 —A shepherd’s pie of retro Swedish death metal
Cyclone Empire
Release Dates: EU:
2011.04.15 | US: N/A

I’ve said it before and now please allow me to say it again. I love old school Swedish death metal. I think it was one of the best pure metal sounds and when done right, its like a little slice of hell on Earth. I recently sang the praises of Blood Mortized for doing the style enormous justice and now here comes Demonical, yet another Swedish retro death mob. Death Infernal is their third release and as with their prior material, it’s a full on love fest for all things Entombed, Dismember, Grave and Unleashed. Featuring members who did time in Grave, Interment and other SDM acts, these guys have been around the block and clearly know what they’re doing genre-wise. While there’s little to no originality on display here, that need not spell disaster if a band executes their chosen influences and style with skill and conviction. For the most part, Demonical manages to do just that and delivers some decent Swedish flavored death mayhem. While not not a perfect album, it’s solid, serviceable and at times pretty darn good.

Demonical loves old Entombed, especially the Left Hand Path album and that’s immediately apparent as opener “The Arrival of Armageddon” rushes forth to assault you. This has the same production, sound and style as that classic album and Sverker Widgren’s death croaks are quite similar to those of L.G. Petrov. Naturally, if it sounds like Left Hand Path it sounds fucking great and it has a brutal, take no prisoners style. I like the chaotic pummeling energy and the frenetic riffing here. This is what Swedish death is all about! As Death Infernal unspools there are several monster death tunes like “Return in Flesh” (love the winding riff pattern), “Ravenous” and “All Shall Perish” (excellently grinding, slow, evil sound). Then things take an unexpected turn as they jump from their main style to mimic another famous Swedish act, Amon Amarth. “March for Victory” leaves the Entombed worship on the sidelines and goes for a Viking war party approach straight from recent Amon Amarth output. From then on, Death Infernal jumps back and forth between the two styles and while they manage to pull off both, it leaves the album feeling jerky and lacking cohesion. That said, when they pull out all the stops for the big Amon-fest “From Northern Shores,” it works surprisingly well. As if the style jumping wasn’t weird enough, “Slain Warriors” is a dead on homage to the classic Unleashed sound. This is like a cover band doing the best of classic Swedish death metal. As strange as that sounds, for the most part it works.

Besides the seeming inability to pick a style and stick with it, there are a few tracks here that don’t work very well (“Through Hellfire” and especially “Night of the Graveless Souls” which gets hamstrung by a misplaced Euro-Power metal riff) and over the length of twelve songs, things start to get a little tiresome. The album would be better off with the weaker tracks were excised, leaving just the red meat. There’s no faulting the production however, which is huge, abrasive, ugly and sounds like a Sunlight Studios album from 1991.

While I’d have preferred a more consistent approach and I think Demonical is at their best when locked into their blasting, Entombed-inspired style, this is still a well done death metal release. The retro wave is alive and well in Sweden and I can’t wait to see what else crawls out of that scene. While this isn’t as essential as Entrails, Interment or Blood Mortized, if you dig the genre, you likely won’t be let down by Death Infernal. Sweden kinda rules right now.

« »