Review Summary: The end is nigh.
Demonoid is a Swedish death metal band with thrash and black metal influences, formed in 2000. During the recording of this album, the line-up consisted of: Christofer Johnsson on vocals (founder of Therion), Richard Evensand on drums, Kristian and Johan Niemann playing guitar and bass, respectively (the three also contributed to various Therion albums in the past).
“Riders of the Apocalypse” is a concept album that presents the downfall of mankind caused by their atrocities, punishments of the Gods and the Four Horsemen’s arrival at the end of the world. While themes of hate, violence and death are typical for the genre, the songs manage to create an ominous atmosphere that induces the feelings of desperation and hopelessness dominating the story.
The opener, “Wargods”, sends the listener straight into the impending doom, beginning with relentless drumming, blistering guitar riffs and menacing growls. Later on it shows Kristian’s capability to add melody and impressive solos and the black metal influence through Christofer’s shrieks near the end. The next three tracks describe war and memorable events from the Middle Ages using different musical approaches, with the fastest track, “Firestorms”, the more melodic “Witchburners” and slowest song, “14th Century Plague”. “Hunger My Consort” picks the tempo up, until it breaks into a bluesy solo during the middle, before bursting again into thrashy riffs backed by the repeated word, “Die!”.
The climax of the album, for both story and musicianship, is embodied in “The Evocation”, which marks the summoning of the Riders through an eerie intro, oppressive riffs, guttural and chant-like vocals, followed by a long, well executed solo and an additional female voice at the end. Influences from old-school death and thrash metal outfits are further showcased in “Arrival of the Horsemen” and “End of our Times”, tracks based around the endeavors of the Riders on Earth. The last song, clocking at a remarkable over 9 minutes mark, depicts the reign of Death, the Fourth Horseman, after the total cleansing of men. Although every member gets the chance to boast their skills, the main riff might become a bit repetitive after more listens.
All in all, the guitar work is outstanding, the drummer uses various rhythms and blast-beats effectively, the bass adds grittiness to the overall sound, but could have been more prominent. Christofer shows he is still a great death metal vocalist, even if he changed Therion’s style.
“Riders of the Apocalypse” may not be very original or innovative, but the final result is extremely satisfying. Those who prefer traditional death metal or enjoyed Therion’s debut, “Of Darkness”, should definitely check this album out.