What first comes to your mind when the genre Death Metal is talked about? Apart from growling vocals? Itís the guitars isnít it? Heavy as hell riffs, fast, crunchy and smashing your face in with their brutality. Itís something that most people are attracted to Death Metal for. So, how would you imagine it would sound without electric guitars? Well, itís as weird as it sounds, trust me.
Unfortunately for SOULDAEMON, weird doesnít necessarily mean good. Despite being a generally inventive idea, playing Death Metal with only bass guitars, drums and vocals simply does not work that well, at brief times it does click, but on the whole, as a full album? Itís just not good enough to really stand out as music. The vocals are very monotonous; the drumming is average for a Death Metal record and the guitars... well, there arenít any!
The main talking point about this album is obviously going to be the bass, and it is actually reasonably well played. There are some catchy riffs (if you call them that for a bass guitar? Iím not sure...) in some of the songs, ďBarren LandĒ features a very quick and aggressive leading bass line which impresses for a short while before getting somewhat repetitive. My favourite part of the album though is the instrumental ďDemons Of My SoulĒ, which actually sounds like it should be played fully on bass. Where as many of the other tracks seem to come off as guitar riffs played by someone without an electric guitar, here it actually ends up being very atmospheric and melancholic, just the way this release should have been. It also helps that the tempo is nice and slow here, not trying to be too fast with an instrument that simply sounds better when played at a slower tempo.
What SOULDAEMON should try to do on future releases (if he is to really establish himself as a genuine musical act, instead of just relying on one gimmick) is not try to do too much with the bass. This release isnít necessarily bad; itís just awkward and somewhat repetitive. If SOULDAEMON could write a slower song or two, it would really help with the flow of the album, instead of trying to keep a fast pace which quickly gets repetitive and boring.
Another thing this needs is better production, as a one man band it is obviously hard to achieve this but at the moment the bass needs a whole lot more Ďoomphí and the vocals need to be slightly higher up in the mix. The best parts of the album are when it slows down and the bass actually gets loud and powerful, unfortunately this only happens at brief moments in the album. If this was achieved for the whole playing time of a record, then it might get very interesting.
So, despite the negativity, I do actually believe there is something here that could be worked with. Better production, more variety and improved vocals could turn this into something noteworthy. For now though itís just a unique idea that really could be executed better.
(Online August 8, 2008)