Intellect Devourer – Demons of the Skull [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Here’s a heartwarming tale of perseverance in the Aussie death metal underground. Intellect Devourer formed way back in 1991, and after releasing a couple of demos, enduring splits, hiatuses and reformations, finally recorded their full-length debut, entitled Demons of the Skull, in 2020. Featuring members from various other bands, including Mournful Congregation and StarGazer, Intellect Devourer bring a wealth of battle hardened experience into an inspired batch of old school technical death songs, where the writing roots stretch back to their forays in the early ’90s.

What you get is raw, gritty, pretension-free death, an album that claws for the jugular, with an inspired mix of hook-laden butchery and slick technicality. Clocking in at a lean and mean shade under half an hour, Demons of the Skull is the perfect length for such a dense, stabbing display of old school brutality, flashy technical chops, and a truckload of killer riffs. There is an immediacy to the album that speaks of Intellect Devourer’s song crafting skills. Shreddy guitar work, nimble, attention grabbing basslines, and ever shifting rhythmic complexities are grounded by thick, headbangable grooves and genuinely catchy riffs. The songs are dynamic, compelling components of a unified whole, resulting in a collection that feels fresh and never monotonous, with tempo shifts aplenty within fluid structures. Vocally, the rancid, occasionally decipherable growls are downright vicious and perfectly suited to the material. The bludgeoning blasts and ferocity of opener “Damien Rose from the Tomb of Jesus” wields unhinged aggression with murderous abandon, featuring meaty grooves, melodic soloing, and colossal mid-section. It’s a short, power packed blast that sets the tone for what is to follow.

This shit hammers with bruising, tight and relentless riffage. Intellect Devourer’s satisfyingly rugged, underground exterior, comes steeped in dank, evil atmosphere that early Morbid Angel would be proud of. The darker strains of the classic Floridian scene from yesteryear embellish songs that mix technical expertise with tasty melodic strains, courtesy of the dashing solos, and punchy melodic counterpoint of the ever present bass. Intellect Devourer pull no punches, and while the music is labelled as tech-death, this is a different beast to your average modern tech-death album. From a technical perspective Intellect Devourer impress with their collective prowess and masterful use of dynamics. However, it is the genuinely memorable songcraft that bumps the album up a level. Written back in the early ’90s, “Prayer to Thessaly” is a demented throwback, a blackened assault of blasphemous death that grips the throat and does not let up. Chest caving blasts, thrashy bursts and fast fingered fretwork keep the speed jacked, but Intellect Devourer prove just as adept at slower paces, such as the sick grooves and doomy lurches on “Sorrow Incarnate” and mighty closer, “Waves of Blood.”

Demons of the Skull plays like a refurbished relic from another time, and I mean that in the best possible way. Although Intellect Devourer’s dated marketing schemes leave a bit to be desired, this mysterious outfit delivered an accomplished and intelligent meshing of death metal’s past and present, delivered with finesse and no-nonsense attitude. Death metal has reigned supreme in 2020, but amidst the bevy of excellent releases, be sure to check out this sleeper gem.

Tracks to Check Out: ”Demons of the Skull,” “Sorrow Incarnate,” “Prayer to Thessaly,” “Waves of Blood.”



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