I’ve never been a fan of TESTAMENT, sure I listened to some of their songs on cassette and such, but they never grabbed me by the balls such as SLAYER and METALLICA did. The first time they rose my eyebrows were on “Low” and then only on the parts were Chuck used his Death growl. I don’t know if I’d heard rumours of “Demonic” being more of a Death Metal album than their previous works before doing the buy or if it was pure luck that brought it into my hands. Nonetheless I was blown away upon first listen; this was far heavier than anything I had expected. This is fucking Death Metal. Not only is it Death Metal, it’s very good most of the time as well. Chuck’s growl is top notch.
Before you start thinking this is an ordinary Death Metal album ala SUFFOCATION or CANNIBAL CORPSE I’d better start telling you the whole truth. I lied a bit when I wrote fucking Death Metal. It’s true for the large parts of the album but songs like “John Doe” and “Hatreds Rise” doesn’t fit into that category. Here Chuck uses his “normal” voice, taking away much of the Death Metal feel. I’m not particularly fond of “Hatreds Rise” while “John Doe” is passable, quite good actually. Apart from “Hatreds Rise” there are no songs that make me want to push the skip button.
If you are looking for Death Metal with blast beats and jazz influenced breakdowns you’ve read too far already. This is sludgy Death Metal with no one else than the jackhammer known as Gene Hoglan behind the drum kit. He might not be the best blaster around but is there anyone out there who hits the skin with such power as this guy? If I’d been 14 years old I’d have posters of him on my wall. He has played on many great albums; this guy is an inspiration in himself. As I already mentioned he isn’t the best of blasters, but who cares, “Demonic” has none of them.
Apart from the two songs I’ve already highlighted “Demonic” is a homogenous album, meaning the songs are much in the same vein. I said sludgy Death Metal and this time I didn’t lie one bit. This is heavy indeed and a bit dirty as well. Far from being underground, but “Demonic” sounds more like the product of an underground/growth band than a polished and perfected band like BEHEMOTH, LOST SOUL and AEON all are.
I’ve no complaints whatsoever on the work laid into “Demonic”. It’s just that this kind of music isn’t meant to have a whored up production. This album rumbles like few polished one does. Not all albums are meant to rumble so I’m also a fan of polished productions. I like all the bands I’ve mention in this review so far, spare from METALLICA that is. If they release another album as bad as “St. Anger” I’m thinking about starting their official hate club. Nothing like death threats, just an anti-campaign. After all their discography isn’t much worth spare from their 20+ year old albums. Let’s all pretend that the old METALLICA were kidnapped by UFO’s and replaced with clones in an experiment gone wrong. (Online August 8, 2006)