Written by: GR on 15/03/2010 00:23:59

On paper, Demonica are an interesting prospect. Formed by Mercyful Fate guitarist and side-project fan Hank Sherman along with long-time metal journalist and vocalist Klaus Hyr, the line-up is completed by Forbidden members Craig Locicero and Mark Hermandez (guitar and drums respectively), with Corruption front-man Marc Grabowski on bass. Something of an underground supergroup, you could say, and an international one at that - the guys being based in San Francisco, Denver and Copenhagen. Thanks to the communications technology us youngsters take for granted, this geographical spread has not hindered the project, with each member recording their parts locally and the whole thing being put together by producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Cobalt) in the States. This background information is something I only found out after digesting "Demonstrous", the band's first offering, which means the weight of expectation that such a line-up creates was not a factor influencing my impressions of the record.

So, what does such a project sound like? In the words of Demonica themselves; "blistering Old School Thrash Metal the New way. It's Brutal. It's Fast. It's Crushing!". They're not wrong either; the album featuring ten songs of the kind of thrash that is most definitely rooted in the old-school but with a production and overall sound that leans toward a 'modern' vibe. That description doesn't give any indication of quality though, and in this department Demonica score solidly rather than spectacularly. As you would expect with the names involved there is plenty of stella guitar work on offer throughout the album: big tough riffs varying in pace and complexity, flashy solos and a few instances of rather inventive playing, all of which are enjoyable but fail to be truly memorable.

What does stand out is the vocal work of Hyr, who has a voice somewhere between the classic tone of Tom Araya and the visceral attack of current Exodus man Rob Dukes - with some clean singing thrown in for good measure. In fact at times - particularly on second track "Ghost Hunt" - his voice reminds me of Tankard front-man Andreas Geremia mixed in with some latter-day Chuck Billy and Mark Osegueda. Slightly irrelevant comparisons aside, his voice is high in the mix and has some real venom to it that helps give many of the songs an extra 'brutal' and 'crushing' feel. Not all of his work is quite to my liking; "Summoned" features an almost nu-metal rapping style similar to the last Death Angel album (which I do admittedly like) that is at odds with my somewhat elitist taste, but is just one of the things lending "Demonstrous" its more modern feeling. Other tracks include elements like this but have choruses that make up for my unsure feelings - "Palace of Glass" for example reminding me of Forbidden, albeit with a different tone.

Overall this album fits in with the output we've heard from classic thrash bands such as Exodus, Testament, Onslaught and Death Angel that have updated their sound for the 21st century, gaining 'heaviness' and a certain amount of extremity but maintaining melody and their old-school sensibilities. All of the songs are decent listens featuring top-notch musicianship and fairly memorable ideas, but don't make a lasting impact. This is enjoyable stuff while it's playing but is unlikely to receive many repeat listens throughout the year.

Download: Ghost Hunt, Below Zero, Palace of Glass
For the fans of: Recent output by Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, Slayer
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.02.2010
Massacre Records

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