Including a couple of former UNQUINTESSENCE and ION DISSONANCE members, Montreal Black Metal band NEFASTUS DIES originally took form in 2002, building a foundation of two albums worth of material and playing live. After drummer Tommy McKinnon left the fold for personal reasons, NEFASTUS DIES eventually began work on a complete overhaul of the band's direction - musically, conceptually and visually. Drummer Scythrawl was brought in, also to record vocals on this demo and most of the band's songs "were butchered and restructured in a more vicious manner." On a long-term basis vocalist Ill-Fate now handles the frontman position.
"Prelude (Promo-2005)" consists of three pieces which essentially segue into one another..."Spawns Of Illegitimacy", "Primal Chaos" and "Layers". The band immediately reveals their unsettling technique of juxtaposing opposites, a dissonant, quiet, clean-guitar picking intro interrupted suddenly by the whole band storming in at full volume on a 16th-note triplet blast beat. Speaking of which, this sort of rhythmic foundation from drummer Scythrawl becomes a sort of trademark throughout the brief demo, pounding, beating and drilling into your helpless skull. Atop such a beat you can find a more sophisticated and highly original, particularly given the musical contexts, variation on the "juxtaposition of opposites" technique.
At any given point, there may be one of these blasts going on at top volume while the guitars are playing a quiet picking section, the rest of the band silent or very quiet in the background. Or there actually may be opposing rhythms played simultaneously with the guitars and keyboards overtop the oppositely-placed blast beat. In re-listening to confirm all of these qualities, I find my head feeling like it has been fractioned off into obtusely-adjoining sections, a jigsaw gone savagely wrong in its shape and structure, yet somehow still fitting together. The level of sanity I can muster for the rest of this review has now become questionable. Best to move on to another subject.
The keyboard use in NEFASTUS DIES is highly atmospheric and yet provides an excellent melodic foundation as well. Keysman Iraabbas relies on bizarrely-layered swells which seem to exist in an entirely different dimension as to the guitars....Sometimes leading the band in an epic, somber, grim, yet regal melodic foray overtop the usual jagged-edged rhythm section madness. This is perhaps the secret to NEFASTUS DIES' uniqueness and utter originality, their uncanny ability to layer each instrument over one another, so that each are in a seemingly opposing realm to the other, while somehow remaining a cohesive, complementing unit bent on creating the same unnatural effect. Yes, they are truly sick! Adding oddly-syncopated addendums and asides to their fierce BM assaults, in the rhythmic and (anti-) melodic elements in the band and you are brought to chilling and dizzying heights of sanity-loss and haunting, unnerving terror.
The packaging coming along with "Prelude (Promo-2005)" is modest yet classy and elegant, suiting an introduction to the band perfectly. A black negative photo of a Gothic-architecture church looms ominously on the back cover....ghostly, dark and disturbing. On the front cover is another black negative image of a clear-cut forest (though you could no longer call it a forest - an image seriously horrifying to Vile the Ent!) with the NEFASTUS DIES nefariously-designed logo superimposed and the band name and opus title superimposed in more prominent, gothic white lettering. The CD label is similarly elegant and gothic, with the standard silvery-CD texture on the label side, jet black on the playing side. It is a slipcase cover and includes an insert with Bio and photo of the band. 9.5 out of 10 shows that quality wins over quantity!!!! Check this out before you have to jump on the bandwagon of a group that has true potential to become big, big, stuff. (Online December 10, 2005)