Review Summary: Old school Swedish death metal, 2009 - doing quite well actually.
Centinex never really made it big, always staying way behind more renowned Swedish titans. Bogged by label troubles and a revolving door of a lineup, the band was nonetheless constantly pulled onward by lone surviving original member Martin Schulman, unleashing disc after disc of evolving death metal and securing a devoted, if somewhat petite and scattered fan base. The end of the band's days came in 2006, when after a 16-year uphill struggle the guys seemingly called it quits. This wasn't the case, though – a new project by the name of Demonical arose from the ashes, essentially shedding the guitarists from the last Centinex lineup. Why bother obtaining a new name after this particular line-up change?
A possible explanation would be to indicate a new direction Demonical is heading towards – Hellsworn is pure, old school Swedish death metal done perfectly, and it seems possible that the guys opted for a new moniker to signalize that. Where Centinex would tend to be atmospheric and slightly experimental, Demonical is just pure in-your-face, focused on maintaining heaviness and not exploring alternate music realms. The tempo is usually set at a mid-high pace, fast enough to evoke the trademark Dismember urgency and yet controlled, not letting the songs dart off into a hectic blur. The production is spot on, capturing the trademark buzzsaw tone, but giving it a bit of a modern edge that in no way decreases its impact.
The songwriting is top notch... but what can we expect if all of the members are veterans of numerous established acts? The lone non-Centinex newcomer, vocalist Sverker Widgren, pulls off a convincing performance, his raspy roar sitting perfectly among the gargantuan riffs. Virtually every trademark element of old school Swedeath is present – gigantic, meaty grooves (“World Serpent” may just be one of the catchiest death metal songs ever written), rapid-fire tremolo passages grabbing you by the neck and the oh so characteristic D-beat (“Death Metal Darkness”). The band isn't afraid to slow it down – “Bloodridden” opens with one of the meanest crawling riffs this side of doom metal before taking off into a full-speed assault at the perfect moment. Down tempo moments are used splendidly, varying up the onslaught whilst not letting up the momentum, an art few bands have mastered. Each of the tunes has an identifying factor, and clocking in at 35:24 the record makes for an exhilarating, enjoyable listening experience that the listener is ready to go on again immediately after the final track stops.
The performance is impeccable, every member knows his way around his instrument of choice rather well. The organic vibe emanating from the recording is invigorating – it seems that the guys are having a quality time doing this, and the energy is contagious. Be it the furious, neck-snapping opener “Baptized In Fire” or the haunting melody hovering over the Moondarkish breakdown in “Bow To The Monolith” – it's all so genuinely powerful... it's a true pleasure to hear a band that is so “into” the music they are making. It breathes life into the seemingly stagnant genre death metal has become.
Essentially a rechristened Centinex minus the experimentation, Demonical is focused on generating pure, intense old school Swedish death metal, and they manage to nail it. Mixing unbridled enthusiasm with years of experience, the guys churn out a compact and very focused record, serving up trademark Swedeath of prime quality. Don't expect too much originality – since the formula ain't broken, why fix it? If you like stuff like Grave and Dismember and are interested how the scene is holding on in 2009 – check this out. You won't regret it.