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Maul – Deity Demise

Deity Demise
by Andrew Graham at 03 October 2020, 6:21 AM

For me, death metal has felt stale for a long time. It feels that, in many ways, the genre has been done to death (pun not intended!) To be sure, I still get a kick from being front row at CANNIBAL CORPSE or CARCASS – it’s classic stuff. But there’s a distinct sense that it’s – well – it’s all been done. This likely accounts for the experimentation and borrowing from different genres that’s taken place over the past couple of decades: to greater success in places like melodic death metal and blackened death metal, and lesser success in places like deathcore (I’m an old hack, fight me!)

I’ve been to see small local bands do death metal in its purest form and mostly it feels, at its best, largely derivative, and, at its worst, just embarrassing (not even joking, once saw a local band play a song called “Human Tikka Masala”.) The anti-religious irreverence feels overdone and clownish from our standpoint and the gore factor simply no longer gets our rocks off. This is hardly surprising in an era after cultural artefacts like the ‘Saw’ and ‘Hostel’ franchises, and, indeed the entire careers of the two bands I mentioned in the first paragraph! So, this all makes death metal difficult to do in a pure form because it feels largely complete; filled out – it’s all been done! This makes it particularly challenging for new bands in the genre, determined to follow in the tradition of the greats, to break into the scene.

For me this makes new outings, like MAUL’S “Deity Demise” sources of genuine excitement. Even where attempts to do something fresh and original with the conventional formula are comparatively subtle (as they are here) it still suffices to demand attention.

The demo opens with stomping riffage in the title-track “Deity Demise”. Immediately noticeable, asides from the tantalisingly tangy groove-laden riffage from Anthony and Alex’s guitar work, is the quality of the recording and mixing. Of particular note is the percussion, which, for a demo, provides drummer Robby with a clear platform to show off his competence and skill. The snare and kick drums are especially well-mixed, punctuating the two opening tracks with a solid rhythm that is, not only easy, but genuinely pleasurable to follow. It’s really a shame that the tempo never really speeds up to make full use of this clarity – a more frenzied tempo (even the odd blast beat or two) would offer a particularly gratifying showcase for the drum work.

Also of immediate note is Garrett’s vocals. There are a few moments of clarity throughout the demo where we hear distinctly the full spectrum of growls, snarls and shrieks on offer, but he appears to largely obscures his talent behind the infamous mic cupping that is so much the taboo of metal vocals. In this case it definitely does not disguise lack of talent. He clearly has the goods and just needs to put himself out there in the open!

“Buried in Resin” opens with a dissonance one would almost expect of black metal, before crushing us with more groove-laden riffage from said tangy guitar work. A few recording/mixing issues stand out however – though I want to reaffirm that, for a demo, these are relatively minor. The toms lack the clarity and power of the snare and kick combo, feeling a little overly compressed. Unfortunately for bassist Michael, his playing isn’t so much heard, as subconsciously registered in a strange and unexplainable vibration in the rafters. He has largely been banished to the very low frequency ranges, visible surely on any passing seismograph! This is a shame as some of the most satisfying bass playing in the death metal genre is noted for its treble-y lucidity.

We are then presented with “Mauled (Outro)”, a cryptic ambient track with disturbing synths, sampled screaming and other unsettling effects. It’s difficult to appraise as such, but if the intention is simply to disturb then… mission accomplished – I guess?

Finally, we close with “Seraphic Punishment (Basement Rehearsal)”, a very rough recording that nonetheless displays some more spicy riffage and drum work. There’s too little in this demo to appraise the band more fully, but there’s real promise here. For my money I just wish they’d up the tempo! Perhaps this simply reflects my own prejudices about what death metal ought to be, but overall the music here feels lethargic. We are teased with breakdowns that seem to promise a speed boost but then are disappointed. However, on the whole, there is much here to recommend and if these guys carry on doing what they’re doing then we have a full-length to really look forward to!

3 Star Rating

1. Deity Demise
2. Buried in Resin
3. Mauled (Outro)
4. Seraphic Punishment (Basement Rehearsal)

Anthony Lamb – Guitars
Garrett Alvarado – Vocals
Robby Anderson – Drums
Michael Nikolas – Bass
Alex Nikolas – Guitars
Record Label: Redefining Darkness Records


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Edited 04 February 2023

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