Review Summary: The penultimate album of the early Finnish death metal scene. A must have for any death metal fan.
In the early 1990s, the Florida Death Metal scene was beginning to spread like wildfire; bands like Morbid Angel, Death and Obituary were setting the standards for Death Metal to come, while across the sea there were prime innovators such as Entombed (AKA Nihilist), Grave & Dismember bringing their own style with crushing, buzz saw-like guitar tones, and more guttural vocals.
Now, I bet you're wondering: Where does Demigod, and their cult-classic, 'Slumber of Sullen Eyes', fit into this? Well, what Demigod was doing was something different from a lot of the bands; while Entombed and the like were focusing on pure, unadulterated brutality for their music, Demigod were going for a darker, more atmospheric approach to death metal, something heard a lot today in bands like Opeth, Katatonia, or, to a certain extent, Nile.
From the eerie, ethereal synths of "Apocryphal", you can tell this isn't going to be your average "punch-your-face-in-and-rape-your-mother" style of Death Metal you usually hear. While Demigod my maintain this kind of mentality in their tremolo-laden guitar riffs and absolutely awesome and unpredictable double-bass work, they also combine many more melodic and harmonized riffs in the midst of the muddy-sounding guitars and extreme low-end of the album.
Another thing that really adds to the creepy and ungodly heavy nature of this album is the somewhat frequent use of breakdowns. I know a lot of people will cringe when they see this, but don't get me wrong; these breakdowns are not your typical "open drop-D chords played really fast in a 4/4 rythmic approach". No, these kind of breakdowns are just slower riffs that appear from the chaos of the aforementioned tremolo riffs. You might be expected them to be a bit of a break from the heavy guitar work, but in reality, they are just as heavy, if not more so. One such breakdown occurs in the track "Tears of God". It maintains a very ominous atmosphere with the harmonized guitars, yet still manages to be crushingly heavy.
Along with those breakdowns, there are a few very melodic sounding guitar solos, very much akin to early Suffocation or Cryptopsy. These guitarists truly know their way around the fretboard, but they do it in a rather inconspicuous manner, disguising the very technical riffs and song structures with just plain catchy riffing and use of melody.
In the end, this all boils down to a completely essential and sadly overlooked Death Metal album that many more people definitely need exposure to, hence this review. I hope that this will attract at least a little bit more attention to Demigod, as they certainly need it, despite their later works not living up to this gem.