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Christoffear - We All Have Our Daemons

Christoffear
We All Have Our Daemons
by Kira Schlechter at 27 April 2021, 6:36 AM

On their Bandcamp page, CHRISTOFFEAR describes the inspiration of their debut album “We All Have Our Daemons” as coming from all the demons we deal with, “mental disorders, passions, perversities, fear, anger, frustration, darkness, all the ugliness we carry within” – yeah, that pretty much covers it. And that exploration, once the Argos, Greece-based melodic death metal band begins it, doesn’t let up.

“Come Out Alive” shows the band’s clear leaning toward the “melodic” part of “melodic death metal, save for Rafael’s harsh vocals (which are perfectly fine as those go, although his pronunciation could be a little cleaner – he tends to slur and exaggerate so much at times, it’s hard to distinguish what he’s saying). There’s a distinct brightness to band namesake Christopher’s cleanly-mixed guitars; the drums are straightforward with just touches of blast beats here and there. If you’d have to pick a theme for this one from the above list, it could be perhaps “mental disorders,” maybe in the form of addiction (with lines like “will you let me die,” and “Lying down and bleeding inside, bleeding to die,” and “Nightmares creeping my sleep/I can't resist/I won't come out alive,” and “A dead person in my dreams”). There’s no real chorus on this one, its structure is a bit loose, so there’s the “death metal” influence. The vocal/lyric section lasts a touch over two minutes before the track stretches into a long instrumental section of layered guitar and keyboards and a haunting, sticky, melancholic melody (both one guitar and harmonic ones) that remains in your head long after it fades to a final sole keyboard line.

“They Are In Your Mind” reinforces their loosey-goosey approach to songwriting – this one is more succinct than the previous one, but again, there’s no clearly defined verse-chorus structure. In fact, the last “verse” takes lines from the first one and blends them with lines from the “chorus” – and the only reason to even use that term is because the two groups of lyrics are similar in theme and both begin with a question: “Would you follow my lead?” and “Will you hold my hand?” (who those are directed to isn’t clear though, unless it’s just asking out loud). The lyrics here are a wee bit awkward and convoluted, but you could say this is about regrets, in some ways (“Things I left behind/Things that gone by”) and how they can haunt you (“They come at night/They fed from fears”). You find early on with CHRISTOFFEAR that you have to let go of your innate expectations of structure and accept what they give you with these first tracks – it’s tough at times, but they have a solid ear for melody and compelling parts.

Like in “We’re Descending,” which could conceivably have two verses and a chorus, but those verses are set to totally different musical backgrounds – the first to a dark, chugging swing where Rafael’s voice is staccato and matter-of-fact; the second to an erratic jounce (where his voice gets more intense) that’s preceded by a quick-footed jog. You want consistency, but you don’t get it and it’s kind of interesting. There’s vague references to religion in this one, maybe: “The lies you heard told by prophets of false,” which is a clever play on “truth,” of course; “And your heaven you promised in is a nonexistent place,” and “You try to find the light in the rabbit’s hole but all you find is a bloody joke,” and “But you follow orders with your eyes closed/It’s better now, are you convinced?/Or one day you will open them/And you’ll find that you never saw the things you missed.” What could be considered the chorus brightens in some weird way despite what it’s saying (“We’re descending, we fall into the hell/We’re descending, we’re falling down”). But it’s effective at the end when the last two lines, “They’re descending from the sky, we’re falling down,” slow and Rafael agonizingly screams, “Die, motherfucker” (perhaps directed at himself) as the guitars keep bleak and miserable company.

Two distinct musical feels alternate throughout “Forgotten And Fallen,” a looser straight-ahead 4/4 tempo and a tighter blast-beat-based one, and that works well because your ear becomes familiar with each one and the transitions between each are smooth. There’s a slower, bridge-type section later on before it goes back to that alternating and it ends in a chaotic wall of intense drumming and Rafael’s anguished roar. Lyrically, this is a little baffling because of the awkward wording and meandering train of thought – there are promising, evocative lines, like “I whisper thoughts like a disease” and “Untold and unspoken/I’ve become undying” (a nice play on words), and “I sacrificed heaven for a doom,” but what the actual point of it is is unclear, with lines that are rather head-scratching (“Fear nothing more/Fear nothing less/The universe I’ve lived/Become for me the flesh” and “I’ve planned the end/Of what left me free/No time to lose now”).

It’s here where the album takes a distinct turn for the better, finding its footing thematically and structurally. “A Deal In Dark” is perhaps the strongest track musically, even though they maintain basically the same guitar tone with little variation. Each section begins with the same initial driving melody that morphs into a haunting tune beneath the words, gorgeous and heartbreaking. I’d argue that the part where it slows after the first section of lyrics loses energy, though and feels random because they don’t revisit it. It does have some excellent lyrical ideas – perhaps the references to “you” are the two sides we have, the positive one and the self-defeating one, and the song is sort of a journey from being awash in the negative (“My angel of darkness/My black knight of all/Cast the spell on me/You have the right to do/The breath I have is borrowed/By you so many years ago,” and later, “A deal in the dark was made/I’ve never forgotten and forever I owe/My darkest friend/The fallen spirit of you/I’ve left it all” and “It cursed the mind and body”) to attempting to break free at the end (“Let me see the stars…Let me see the black/That I loved to live in forever/Let me see the stars”). There are some nice plays on words here, too, like “Long time, old see,” and some lovely metaphors, and the development of the thought in “The time I was an eagle, now I crawl” (from the negative) to “I choose from nobody to become someone” (to the positive) is well executed.

“Death Toll” is also sound musically, with a sing-song guitar melody that’s established early and continues throughout in various permutations. The progressions of that melody in the only “prechorus” is done especially well; it goes through several identical run-throughs and then resolves itself very nicely, exactly how you anticipate it should. The first time it slows after the first chorus, it loses a little thrust but it has that same melody at its heart and it does go back to the main idea quickly. It does that again after a second chorus, but it leads into a solo this time, which makes sense. The idea of the title could be “toll” as in the sense of payment, like maybe it refers to addiction again (“You paid in blood/You paid in sins/I’ve paid in my rush/With the pain in my thoughts .. I’m your doom over your head/The blur inside your mind”), the power of the drug (“I’m your master of all … I can control your soul … I can see through you … Beg for something that I won’t give to you”), and that you owe it and it will continue to exact its price (“Your chances zero to one/Your time less than that/Pay with your blood/Pay me in gold that’s so cold/Make me forget what you’ve done/I spoiled you like forever/Scars on your body are from me”) – excellent personification there.

“Hang Loose” falls into three distinct parts or movements. After an introduction that has smooth, rich guitar and jagged drums pulsing across each other, an almost upbeat groove with a wonderful guitar melody takes over and slows as the song’s action gets under way. It slows even further as a musing, spare, bleakly hollow guitar melody (and a terse bass line) begins that will carry through and be built upon as the song progresses. It doesn’t take long to realize that the lyrics, and the admittedly flippant title, are very much a reference to suicide, from perhaps an out-of-body or observational perspective. Once you realize that, it gets more and more harrowing as it goes on. Lines in the first part like “My heartbeat stops and silence rings” and “Did I cross the line that I tried to pass?” (hinting that the character tried it before but succeeded this time) and the awful imagery of “A black shadow hangs loose in the room/It swings with terrible dreams it seems/That rope holds the weight of the world” are just devastating. The second section is even more beautiful in its use of imagery that’s so powerful you can visualize it but so delicately drawn at the same time: “There it was, no remorse/It’s just the sound of the crackling chair/That releases the weakness to see the darker paths of life” and the candle that blows out to reveal “the reality/That I gone away” and that “I stopped this bleeding-from-the-inside pain.” The third is even more devastating, Rafael’s roar gone ragged and nearly gone as he howls, “When you slowly get down my body/It holds a heart/It broke in so many pieces it doesn’t use that anymore” (all set to a tragic, thoughtful guitar melody), and the stark finality of the lines, “My breath was taken but I can breathe without difficulty nowadays.” It’s a pivotal, important track and is exceedingly well done

We go back to a bit of a looser structure in “Upon Me,” which is a bit schizophrenic in its mood, starting with an urgent, tight groove before speeding up. The melodies aren’t quite as memorable and strongly developed as the ones in the previous tracks, but the last section pairs an almost optimistic one (that sounds like a release) with Stathis’ quick, pattering drumming. Perhaps this is also a reference to suicide, albeit by a different means (“Destroy every memory and have me linger to my death/Slowly moving blades path the way through my veins” – some unique wording there). The whole ending section drives that point home, with the repetition of “Blood spilled splashes on the wall … just crawl on the floor.”

“In The Den Of Sin” too boasts another amorphous structure, again arranged in sections – what seems like a “verse” initially (set to an insistent chug that plays with rhythm to emphasize certain lines) goes into a freer, eased-out second section (kind of a chorus), then to a second “verse” similar to the first in feel (with a similar but slightly adjusted guitar melody). There are some terrific lyrics that seem to deal with despair, depression, hopelessness, and some more beautiful imagery: in the first section, “you have fallen into wormy dreams,” or thoughts of death; “you have lain on rusty lancets/diseased in body and mind,” could be an addiction reference; “Scary thoughts and twisted dreams/Come into the renaissance,” could be saying those things come into the forefront, become more commonplace. When Rafael asks, “Where is your God?” the music stretches way out to emphasize the sentiment and mimic his anguished delivery. The evocative lyrics continue in the second section, with lines like “Evil wings in ether beating/Vultures at the spirit eating” (maybe a loose reference to the torment of Prometheus in Greek myth), “Ghastly shades of bygone gladness/Clawing fiends of future sadness” (love the parallelism and rhyme scheme there), and “And staggered coves would leave their slums/To rest in doors amongst the gloom” (just pure poetry).

They end strongly with “Lost And Nothing,” another song with a set format, another too where they pick a feel, a groove, a despairing open-chord guitar melody that shifts and modulates, and stick with it. Here as well are well-done parallel lyrics in the two “verses” that play off similar ideas: “Do you fear the dark?/I would let you die” and “I will let you alone/Inside this dark.” This too could likely be about mental illness: lines like “These minds of us as you can see/Have lost every piece of logicality” would support that idea, as would the ending lines, “All I can see/These young demons/They play with your head/Will you be dead?/Please let me in/Let me be your guest.” You’d maybe like them to reprise that one more time at the end, but they fade out instead with a bridge/solo section that contains musical touchpoints made familiar through the course of the track.

There are interesting ideas here musically and lyrically across the board, and the album has  definite high points – when it’s good, it’s very good. “We All Have Our Daemons” is promising as debuts go – with some seasoning and better editing, CHRISTOFFEAR is sure to build on a fairly strong beginning.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Come Out Alive
2. They Are In Your Mind
3. We’re Descending
4. Forgotten And Fallen
5. A Deal In Dark
6. Death Toll
7. Hang Loose
8. Upon Me
9. In The Den Of Sin
10. Lost And Nothing
Lineup:
Rafael Bavelas - Vocals
Christopher Boufas - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Stathis Karoutis - Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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