Demonical – Mass Destroyer Review

Swedeath. I keep ending up with Swedeath. There are worse problems to have to be sure, but there is ultimately a limit to how much of that very specific sound I need in my life in any given year not falling between 1990 and 1995. I reviewed Sweden’s Demonical way back in 2011 on their Death Infernal outing, finding it a mostly enjoyable blend of Entombed and Amon Amarth influences performed by members of Grave, Centinex, and Julie Laughs Nomore. I didn’t review their last few releases, but we gave them solid marks for covering the very same ground as they did back in 2011. Now we come to 7th album Mass Destroyer and not a lot has changed. There are a few interesting new details, but the bulk of what you get is straight-up, 100% pure Swedish death metal with one foot Entombed. Will Mass Destroyer be crafty enough to worm its way into my limited Swedeath allotment for 2022? Let us weigh the masses.

The band certainly give it their all on slashing, burning opener “We Conquer the Throne.” It’s classic Swedeath with all the expected d-beats and buzzy fury, and that’s fine if the song is well-crafted and gets under the skin. This one does due to rousing riffage and solid hooks at chorus time. Right to the gym playlist jail it goes. A twist arrives on “Sun Blackened,” where the style shifts from classic Swedeath to something like stoner doom. Big, stoner riffs arrive from nowhere and throb with fatness, only to be reabsorbed back into the thrashing death stew. It’s a neat trick that nicely sets up the mid-tempo plod and stomp of album highlight “Fallen Mountain.” It’s a very simple song in construction, but here simplicity pays big dividends. The timely drop of a guitar flourish straight off Whoracle is the icing on the cake for a very enjoyable romp through the graveyard and this one will stick to you.

The back-half of Mass Destroyer is more traditionally Swedeath, with cuts like “Wrathspawn” and “Dödsmarsch” d-beating with great vengeance and furious anger. What these kinds of numbers lack in innovation they partially make up for in intensity and enthusiasm, but it’s fair to say you’ve heard these things before. There are also more peaks and valleys on the second side (olde man term, I know). “Lifeslave” is solid but its mid-tempo plod runs on too long at 6 minutes but I check out mentally 2-minutes earlier. Closer “By Hatred Bound” on the other hand is a tasty morsel full of Amon Amarth-y battle riffs and Amorphis-esque spritely harmonies. It’s not reinventing anything but it’s a fun tune. At an extremely lean 33-plus minute runtime, there’s little blubber on Mass Destroyer to work off before bikini season hits. With most tracks falling in the 3-4 minute pocket, things move right along, dragging you from station to station. Breezy and beefy IS a way to go through life, son.

Very much a guitar-driven beast, Mass Destroyer relies heavily on Eki Kumpulainen and Johan Haglund to guide the battering ram in wise directions. This they generally do, straddling the expected influences and blending them in propulsive if not original ways. There are plenty of abrasive, Dismember / Entombed-adjacent riffs to rub you raw, and the way they spice up the brain bashing with highly melodic leads is inspired. Their occasional sojourns into doom are surprisingly effective as well. Relatively new vocalist Christofer Säterdal does a great job, snarling and roaring for all he’s worth. He manages to avoid being another L.G. Petrov clone and delivers more than enough venom to sell the death cookies like a closer. Ronnie Bergerstål also impresses with a furious, bone-dusting performance on the kit. The man is all over his gear and it elevates the energy and fun factor.

I slept on Demonical for over 10 years and it feels like I never left. That’s both comforting and disturbing. Still, I had a good time with Mass Destroyer and now feel compelled to spend time with the releases I missed. I guess I had a little space left in my brainpan’s Swedeath compartment after all. You might have free space too, so cram this thing in and see how it fits.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 6th, 2022

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