• Mon, Mar 1, 2021
Reviews

The New Demonstealer EP Is Necessary

7.5

album Reviews Dec 13, 10:27am

‘And This Too Shall Pass’ isn’t afraid to be itself
 Photo Courtesy: Alexandre Antozzi

Sahil Makhija, Demonic Resurrection, Demonstealer, long and strong career, record label, a zillion collaborations with celebrated metal musicians, yadda yadda. If you’re in any way aware of the indie scene here, you know who he is and what he’s done over all these years, so let’s dispense with the pleasantries. What about this new EP, though? It’s been two-odd years since his last release (‘The Last Reptilian Warrior’); he doesn’t seem to have lost any steam in the interim. This EP perhaps isn’t the most noisy or chaotic thing you’ll ever hear (though it gets pretty heavy at multiple points), but it’s without doubt one of Sahil’s more evocative sets of songs.

There are four of the aforementioned songs on this EP, and while yes, there is heaviness and riffage in heaping spoonfuls, it does seem like everything has a bit more clarity this time round. This EP is the first Demonstealer release Sahil hasn’t mixed himself, but that’s a trifling detail; everything sounds clean as a damn whistle. His growls have the thin and raspy quality they’ve always, but there is a finesse and smoothness to them at this point (obviously, it’s been years of practice and so on) that works rather well with the similarly crystal clear instrumentation. You can pick out almost everything and every individual part here without having to dig for it. That being said, it doesn’t sound overly glossy and computerized like what has now become the infuriating norm for modern progressive metal. There is a rawness to the recording that is mercifully kept alive in the mix. The songs themselves have an interesting bent to them.

 

 

This isn’t your typical 20-minute barn burner. Sahil is in social-musings mode for almost all of ‘And This Too Shall Pass’, and to say his lyrical content isn’t particularly cheerful is a comical understatement. There is a through-line of ‘time goes on’, but this EP is an often melodic and sometimes heavy indictment of the human race (I know, we’ve had enough this year, but whee!). But it’s supported by instrumentation and writing that is actually kind of accessible and… gratifying? A listen to ‘This Crumbling World’ doesn’t directly inspire anger or rage; in fact, a good part of the music here doesn’t. There is a far more pronounced attempt to put across sadness and weariness. Superficially, yes, all the riffs, blastbeats and heavy vocals are present, but the track’s second half is a bit more emotional. It’s sometimes an odd word to use in this context, but when the tempo drops and the guitars are a bit less choppy, it almost sounds a bit more ‘present’. The next two tracks, ‘A Festering Wound’ and ‘Systemic Failure’ are more comfortably in the angsty lane with their almost martial drums (especially ‘Systemic Failure’; that song has a skull-pounding quality that we all know and love) and more strident messaging. ‘A Festering Wound’ also has some of the more standout riffs here, but again, it’s a comfortable standard. The closer ‘From Flesh To Ashes’ is by far the most melodic track on the EP, and it really seems like Sahil is far more expressive in this space on this release. He echoes hope and despondency with a directness that makes the generally lilting guitars and simple writing make more sense than filling everything with non-stop action. The two more exploratory and expansive tracks bookend the EP well.

Sahil as Demonstealer has released a lot of music over the years; as it often is with the genre, sometimes the messaging and general feeling of the artist is couched in metaphor and obscured by tens (if not hundreds) of layers of texture and technique. ‘And This Too Shall Pass’ is interesting in that it’s unquestionably a metal release, but it’s refreshingly direct. There’s no hiding behind hidden meaning or searching for the emotion in furious and helter-skelter riffing; it’s all pretty clear to see, and that makes it a clear listen too.

Listen to 'And This Too Shall Pass' here.

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