Phantom Good, Groot Play Phantom - "Fallen From the Brightest Throne" Review (95%)
My first thought of Demonecromancy - how ridiculous! A Welshman and two Swedish guys
walk into a bar who think they are Phantom? You have to be joking?
And didn't Reiklos already do that joke on "Lifeless" a while back?
Then I hear the opening track "Apocryphus"... a very grim riff is being played, with some odd and strangely excellent "Memento Mori" leads in the background. The time slows down, with an excellent atmospheric bridge. Then, the music picks up again, demonstrating this band's ability to fuse Phantom's eerie atmospheres and unconventional song structures with some interesting Swedish black metal riffs worthy of "Far Away from the Sun", and melodic death metal riffs so good that they wouldn't feel out of place of "The Nocturnal Silence" or "Like an Everflowing Stream". The harmonies here are great, as well.
Could it be that "Fallen from the Brightest Throne" is more than what meets the eye?
The music is, like most Swedish black and death metal of the early nineties, deceptively simple on the surface, but it reveals greater depth than you ever suspected once you start looking under the hood.
Demonecromancy's formula is, at first, closer to that of melodic black metal bands like Dissection, Sacramentum and Marduk, and if not for the band's name, and that of the album, you would never guess that this is a Phantom tribute act.
Yet, if you look at the way each track is composed and each riff is arrange in a progressive and narrative manner, with the goal of developing a haunting, loathsome and morbid atmosphere, the Phantom connection becomes clear as day.
But the closest connection between these two bands, and what differentiates Demonecromancy from the rest of Sweden's black metal acts, is their ability to completely deform common scales and patterns with strategically chromatic insertions, creating both tension and irregularities in what would otherwise be a mere Dark Funeral exercise in harmonic minor improv'.
Phantom Good, Groot Play Phantom
Demonecromancy, like Reiklos before them, have a strong understanding of how to make songs with a limited set of complex ideas and how to convey the themes of supernatural madness and spiritual decay of Phantom's music, and the role strong riff craft and song composition in the building of such atmospheres.
Complex ideas, because if the ridiculous number of harmonic, tonal and even rhythmic variations amongst individual riffs and riff phrases on tracks like "Entering the Temple of Dread" and "As Sorrows Became Bloodlust" doesn't give the game away that what Demonecromancy plays is complex music, I don't know what will.
And a limited set, a self-imposed limit I should add, is that Demonecromancy approach the music of Phantom from what I would call the Marduk angle, as opposed to Reiklos approaching them from the Darkthrone angle. Having a stylistic anchor as a guideline helps to condense this extremely riff-reliant atmospheric music into an intentionally simpler format. In that regard, Demonecromancy are clever enough to avoid the pitfalls of attempting to clone "Withdrawal" or "Fallen Angel" as is, preferring to use a medium to reach a similar destination as Reiklos did with their opus "Lifeless". What pitfalls? Being incapable of recreating Phantom's sickening yet coherent nexus of riff mazes, for one, and ending up with a chaotic mess of carnival music. Again, both black metal canon and the specifics of Phantom's music were studied very seriously by this band, and this studious and composed nature is reflected in the band's music.
A breakdown of this "Fallen from the Brightest Throne" album, piece by piece:
Vocals: Actually quite excellent. Nothing earth-shattering, but some excellent black metal vocals that greatly contribute to the other-worldly atmosphere of Demonecromancy's music. Intelligent lyrics, too, in the vein of their influence.
Guitars: Absolutely excellent! These Swelsh, or Welswedish, masters manage to be extremely creative in riff craft while staying true to the overarching goal of creating and developing heavy atmospheres of morbid dread. Some excellent solos, some great black metal riffs, and some harmonies that make you feel as though you're dropping acid while drowning in the Styx. As you ease into your trip, some doom-like, Vermin-esque dirges pound your eardrums and sanity into submission.
Drumming: Admittedly mediocre. You will mostly find blast beats here, and the few drum patterns that break away from the constant onslaught aren't overly creative. But all things considered, they don't need to be. No harm, no gain either.
Atmosphere: This, coupled with the guitar riffs in and of themselves, is what make this band worthwhile. There's some great atmosphere you won't hear anywhere else, not even on Phantom or Burzum records. Extremely interesting and innovative, it keeps the music interesting even after the millionth listen.
The Good: Creative, innovative, a sound of their own (ironically), true Phantom atmospheres of horror.
The Bad: A tad monotonous at times, not the greatest production.
The Verdict: "Fallen from the Brightest Throne" is an extremely enjoyable album. Not for fans of deathcore or Metallica. However, if you want a blackened Phantom-Marduk-Dismember-Burzum hybrid... this album is a keeper. Thumbs up for Demonecromancy.
Fallen From the Brightest Throne score: 95/100.