Monday, May 17, 2010

Demoncy - Joined in Darkness

Demoncy - Joined in Darkness
1999, Baphomet/Red Stream

My first initial contact with this band was from a submission for a black metal compilation that I was compiling a while ago - Demoncy's main member/leader and founding artist Ixithra was kind enough to send in an entire CD ('Within the Sylvan Realms of Frost') of material for me to choose from. In my own foolishness I wasn't able, at that time, to realize the value of the material: listening to the disc a few times, I tossed it aside as definitely worthy of publishing, but as yet not something that I would be interested in witnessing more than the occasional odd playing on a day of curiosity. This was a mistake. After the collapse of my compilation, due to various reasons which I no longer have the strength to reiterate, I packed up the CD in a box of asides and left it to moulder. Finding it again after several months and a move, I decided to give it a few more spins - why not, I thought? What can it hurt? After two more listens, I was spellbound - was this the band that I had heard before? Did this CD somehow change in the box that I had so carelessly thrown it into? How could I have not heard the pure darkness seeping out of these songs? In the coming weeks and months this material was constantly in my CD player, constantly at the back of my mind, circling slowly, evolving, growing in stature as its mysteries opened up to me. After all this time I am still convinced that Demoncy is the most important black metal band from these shores: the most original, the darkest, the 'purest' - and yes, the most talented. This band's ability to evoke evil is unmatched, as there is very little 'pretentiousness' to be found here and what comes through on this recording is their (or his, I should say, as Ixithra is solely responsible for this release) unrelenting honesty when trying to express what drives them. This band is not about trends, styles, 'scenes', or fashion. This music is powerful because it exists outside of such determinations - it transcends them. Demoncy were here before all the trends, and, one feels, they will still be here after fashion is dissolved in its own ascendency and decline. I do not hesitate in calling this music Art of the highest integrity. There is very little else to be said...

I read in Lance Gifford's Ultima Comparatio magazine that this album is to be considered a 'logical next step' from their 'Faustian Dawn' release, and since I do not, as yet, have access to that earlier material I can not comment on this supposition. I can tell you, however, that taken on its own, separate from all the other Demoncy releases, this album is a very powerful work of lyrical evocation: its melodic mastery of dark tones, obscure feelings, hidden emotions, a cursed melancholy, a morbid obsessiveness, etc. is eye-opening: listen to the slow, stately combination of tones in the ninth song '(Angel of Dark Shadows) Goddess of the Dark' if you are not convinced - the riffs rise and fall, struggling for release again and again, reaching upwards, one would think, for the Moon rather than the Sun; the melodies breathe in and out, stirring the senses and combining a poetic summoning of darkness with an undeniable hatred of the light; they rise above the cold firmament only to drop into the earth once more where they restlessly turn beneath the ground. This music can not be matched in terms of its ability to bring forth the aching power of Darkness, the chill of utter isolation, the desperation of loves lost to decay, to sterility, to the barriers between worlds. Rather than 'dark romanticism', a reach towards the Ideal, as the lyrics would suggest, this is fact an evocation of Death and the stillness of that Last Kingdom. There is no hope to be found here other than what the realms beyond life offer. Throughout this song the winds of Carrion, of the Afterlife and Oblivion, speed forth to chill, to embalm, to purify through ice and a fading light. Listen to the tenth and final song 'The Dawn of Eternal Damnation', especially the end, where the guitars fade in and out, struggling, materializing from the gloom and then sinking back into the shadows where earlier they were bursting forth, breaking their chains, erupting as lightning strikes, suffocating in their weighty tenebrousness. The melodies become the virtual counterparts of the lyrics, illustrating the messages contained within, giving credence to the power of the words. The fourth song, 'Joined in Darkness', the title track, is also instructive: Demoncy, on this album at least, are not committed to any one method or style of 'black metal' they fall away from high treble tremelo-picking and 'freezing' harmonies to a slow, churning, doom cadence: a crawling and lurching shade that raises its monstrous head a few times only to cry out against the Heavens in anger. The slow melodies in this song are like a funeral procession walked by the dead, for the dead: their halting paces and swaying forms are clearly visible, swathed in black, the bells of plagued churches toll endlessly, the stars expire and disappear...

Of all the Demoncy material that I have had the privilege of listening to, I believe this album contains the 'darkest' music, the most superlatively grim black metal that I possibly have ever heard. For those of you who are convinced that the United States has not harbored a 'worthy' band, I urge you to seek out and find this cult of possessed musicians. If you are able to follow them down into the darkness, to join them there, you will not be disappointed. This recording is very highly recommended.