Thursday, October 4, 2007

Demental - Tales of Alienation

Tales of Alienation describes Demental's music perfectly: completely alien. It's not surprising that they hail from Canada, home of bands such as Gorguts and Augury. The music to be found on this album is unrelenting, aggressive and alien in sound and nature. Just listen to the creepy intro track and you'll hear that this something completely different from your standard death metal band.

Drumming is the driving force of this album and bass drumming forms the base that the drumming is structured around. The most prominent feature of the drumming are the bass drums; a good deal of the fills are completely performed on the bass drums; fast double-bass rolls and constant double-bass drumming are present throughout the album. The rest of the drumming consists of crashing cymbal abuse, occasional tom rolls, short and long snare driven blast beats, militaristic snare rolls, fast, rhythmic snare fills and combinations of alternating snare and cymbal hits. Guitars are, of course, a prominent feature of this album, but rather than the riffs being the main focus of the music, riffs and drumming cooperate together, augmenting and driving each other along. Riffs are more often than not melodic tremolo picking filled with squealing guitar licks in between and aided by the bass, which acts a third guitar, more noticeably in the infrequent 'calmer' sections of the album, and chugging stop-start riffs between section changes in a song. There are three different vocal styles used here: a guttural, gurgling growl, medium to high pitched raspy screaming/growling reminiscent of black metal and occasional clean vocals, which usually develop into or build up to the previously mentioned scream or growl. The songs, which are produced clearly, are quite fast and intense; the album is a mere twenty-four minutes in length, but it feels like a full album because of the complete absence of filler tracks or sections in any shape or form. When a song changes into another section, everything stops for a fraction of a second, then blasts into the next section. This may sound as if the band is awkwardly jumping through their songs, but these stop-start parts are completely natural in their context; the ferocious, unrelenting nature of the songs wouldn't allow for subtle, smooth transitions without slowing down the songs and and taking up way too much time. Vocals alternate between the aforementioned growl and raspy half-scream, half-growl seamlessly, with whole sections being either a scream or growl or the two different vocal styles alternating sentences or even words. Drums and guitars are always doing something, whether they're performing the main body of the drumming made of the blast beats, the whirlwind of tremolo riffing, chugs and squeals, double bass runs and cymbal bashing or the little bass drum fills and tom roll.

All the songs flow naturally rather than rigidly sticking to a one-way song structure, almost to the point of improvisation. The only thing giving away some hint that there are song structures are the stop-start section changes. The music played on Tales of Alienation certainly wouldn't pass as progressive, but they aren't repetetive due to the unconventional structures of each song; for example, if a blast beat section has just finished, you won't hear that same blast beat section in that song again. Some may argue that at twenty-four minutes that this album should be an EP, but to clear this up, look at Reverend Bizarre's Harbinger of Metal EP; it's seventy-three minutes long, but the band still considers it an EP because it contains only three 'real' songs. The same principle can be applied here: Tales of Alienation is densely packed with 'real' songs. It's difficult to bring up any songs that stand out from the rest, not due to excessive repetition but because of the speed and intensity of the songs, and because so much material has been densely packed into such a short running time, it's hard to discern any particularly memorable moments on this album.

Demental manages to play a unique and interesting style of death metal, both musically and ideologically with imagery dealing with things such as possessions, aliens and various related ideas and subjects while still retaining their death metal formula and without resorting to using instruments atypical of metal ala Nile. It's an interesting release well worth taking the time to check out.

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