Hello, American Aftermath. My name is Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if you insist). I suppose I’m something of a guest writer (party-crasher, more like) as Ross asked me to contribute something to the site’s year-end roundup. After procrastinating mightily, I presented him with this haphazard list of my favorite 2011 demos (and almost demos). I had to turn off Demoncy to revisit a couple of these babies, so you’d better fucking appreciate it.
Lycus – Demo MMXI
This wondrous slab of atmospheric funeral doom is quite simply the best demo recording of the year, if not the best album outright. It’s unbelievable that this is an initial offering – the complexity, maturity, and crushing, heaving emotions encapsulated within these three compositions is nothing short of breathtaking. These forgotten sons of Samothrace, distant cousins of Anhedonist, purebred descendents of Asunder…trust me, you’ll be hearing a lot about Lycus in the coming months (especially after The Flenser entomb this masterpiece in wax come the new year).
Bell Witch – self-titled
Bell Witch move at the slow, measured pace of an elegant funeral party, trudging along beside the pallbearers’ shining black leather shoes and picking their way, carefully, through the weeds. Droning, despondent, deceptively simple, and steeped in desperate pathos, this recording transcends the world of mere doom. The two minds behind is have also spent time in Samothrace and Lethe, which should tell you something.
Niantiel – Cavern of the Skeletal Spirits
Surreal, dissonant black metal thrown up from the void. Though Negative Plane’s psyched-out mindfuckery may be a good reference point for this Virginian horde, the sound they’ve created on this three-track demo is truly unique. Ominous, chiming chords, howling vocals, unsettling atmosphere, the stains of occult ritual…
One Tail One Head – Tandava
This is technically an EP, but the recording quality is subterranean enough to land it a place amongst the demo-level masses. OTOH feature members of Celestial Bloodshed, Behexen, and Mare, but this is no mere “supergroup” – this is pure fucking holocaust. Primitive in execution, slavish in its devotion to the old ways, and gloriously raw, Tandava is a chaotic hellstorm of Norwegian black metal vengeance – and a damn enjoyable listen, if you have the stomach for it.
Pilgrim – Forsaken Man
Without contest, Pilgrim are one of the most exciting new true doom bands to emerge from North American shores in ages, and Jon Rossi’s voice is the closest thing to a national treasure to which American doom has lain claim since Wino first picked up a mic. In short, this band is a perfect example of epic, traditional doom metal (it’s no wonder Metal Blade have signed on for their debut LP), and their debut offering makes it all to clear that Pilgrim have only begun their slow, certain rise to the top.
House of Atreus – Demo I
Melodic death metal isn’t all Gothenburg trills or wimpy American metalcore leanings. “Melody” does not have to be a slur; rather, in the case of some, it is a deadly weapon. House of Atreus wield their harmonic tendencies like a scythe, slicing through the thick, galloping death metal riffs that make up the bulk of this release and leaving fresh, oozing scars. Arghoslent are an obvious reference point, but this Greek horde are clearly well-acquainted with their countrymen Varathron as well. This is fucking fantastic.
It’s impossible to tell who created these recordings; Rhinocervs are a shadowy collective, affiliated with the Black Twilight Circle and responsible for releases by Glossolalia, Odz Manouk, etc. Their two 2011 demos are exercises in primal fury – lo-fi, raging slabs of total misanthropic hate in the guise of cold, driving black metal. Oh, and all their songs are untitled, because fuck you. Good luck Googling ‘em, nerds.
So a cadre of Brooklyn’s crustiest death metal dudes got together and formed a band, and, big surprise, it RIPS! Trenchgrinder feature past and current members of hometown homies Attake and Mutant Supremacy with artist Owen Rundquist manning the mic with his savage, shrapnel-coated roar. Bolt Thrower-worshipping riffs, breakneck d-beat machinegun blasts, punk as fuck speed, devilishly murky tones – it doesn’t get much better than this.
NYC’s hardest touring, hardest-hitting black metal band may have hit the bigger leagues (‘sup Prosthetic) but they truly fucking earned it, by playing hundreds of shows, self-releasing a string of solid releases & splits, and spitting out some of the meanest, truest extreme music this city has to offer. Inhumanely intense and ice fucking cold, Mutilation Rites channel Mayhem at their best and Enslaved at their blackest, drawing down the moon onto a craggy base of crusty punk fervor. Their latest demo is yet another triumph of evil.
Doomslaughter – Downfall Progenitor
Bestial Belorussian extremity. An unholy amalgamation of black, death, and thrash metal, leaning towards the cult of death but even throwing in a few moments of certain doom before bringing the hammer of antichrist down – Doomslaughter fucking rule, and Iron Bonehead are releasing their next effort, so you know it’s good. I can’t stop listening to this.
This band doesn’t actually have a demo recorded yet, but the handful of songs they’ve posted so far have captured my heart, and the world needs to take notice of this newest addition to the NZ hordes. Behold, SABBATIC GOAT: