Demo Dose: Sorcerer’s Sword and more!

Written by Kep

Welcome, folks! Today we’re gonna look at four demos: a particularly impressive one that’s due out in early March from Sorcerer’s Sword, and three great early-2022 examples that you might have missed checking out. What’s a demo in our 21st century musicscape? For our purposes, it’s a release with minimal production value, designed to function as an example of an outfit’s sound and abilities.

Okay, enough with the semantics, let’s dive in!

Sorcerer’s Sword – Demo
Blackened thrash/speed metal from Nevada, USA
Releasing March 4 via Mythic Ironworks

Look, we don’t often review demos at Noob Heavy. It’s hard enough to find the time to write about all the great full-lengths and EPs that we want to cover. But every now and then something comes along that’s worth making an exception for, and you guessed it: Sorcerer’s Sword’s new demo is one of those things.

Few outfits exude the kind of grinning wickedness that Sorcerer’s Sword has in spades. Theirs is the battle cry of an army of a thousand demons, clad in leather and spikes and riding flaming motorcycles out of the barren desert to bring debauchery to the masses and the fury of hell to those that resist. It’s a witch’s brew of scorching speed, merciless thrash, malevolent shred, and a healthy dose of mischievous heavy metal swagger. Two things are abundantly clear throughout the 26-minute runtime: 1) these guys are absolutely reveling in trying to make the iniquitous as fun as possible, and 2) they are talented and intelligent enough to accomplish it.

The touchpoints of their sound are classic: Sabbat’s joyous blackened hellraising is a clear influence, both in riff styling and in vocal approach. Vocalist (and drummer!) Demonizor rasps in hoarse gritty barks, screeches high thrash cries, and throws in a smattering of ridiculously fun wailing cleans a la King DiamondSatanasnake, whose name we should all take a few extra moments to appreciate, handles the axework, and he plays with the tremendous aplomb of someone who knows their shit is absolutely scorching. The main riff of “Demonolatry” had its hooks in me as soon as it barrelled out of my speakers, sizzling arpeggios like the fiery arrows of the devil’s imps. There’s the speed and rollicking thrill of vintage acts like Venom and plenty of gut-punch power that calls Satanic Slaughter’s work in Hellhammer to mind. And the solos! I won’t drag Satanasnake’s shred down by comparing it to anyone else; it’s an unhinged-level of fast and carries an impressive amount of odd melodicism even as the notes scream by, and is flat-out exciting.

This being a demo, although a substantial one at six tracks, the production is raw and free of much that sounds “modern”, but in the case of an outfit that so clearly is worshipping the early days of extreme metal it’s not even a complaint. The damn thing sounds great and the lo-fi grit mostly just adds to that old school feel. Long story short, you’re gonna want to check out this demo, because Sorcerer’s Sword are beckoning you toward the fire with roguish grins and all the ­­­­­hijinks hell has to offer.

Icicle – Demo #1
Black metal/shoegaze from California, USA
Released January 6 via Rising Beast

A complete 180 from the heat and speed of Sorcerer’s Sword lands us squarely in a misty gray field on a cold winter’s morning, where little can be seen except the scraggling bare arms of dead trees and the colorless grass beneath our feet. Icicle, a new two-man outfit consisting of Horus (aka Roach in some other projects)and drummer Andorkappen, makes music made for meditation on that which is bleak, tranquil, and hopeless. It’s melancholy in a way that feels bittersweet; there’s little anger here, and even less spite or hate, but the seasonal sadness and aching reminder of loss permeates every crevice. This is 16 minutes of the antithetical beauty of loneliness, a dreamy journey through an emotional haze that confronts the inmost reaches of despondency. The next time you’re in the mood for a -gazey piece of moody black metal, give Icicle’s demo a try. It’s name-your-price on Bandcamp!

Chronicles – Chaos Cosmogony
Death metal from Bangladesh
Released January 20 via Helldprod Records

Chronicles formed in 2015 and released an EP (WarMachine, it’s damn solid) in 2019. That EP was released independently, though, and on the strength of that and a 2020 demo they landed a deal with Helldprod Records, who oversaw the release of Chaos Cosmogony. It’s easy to see what the label saw in these Bangladeshis, too: their brand of savage balls-to-the-wall death metal is extremely satisfying. This is straight ahead brutality of the most animalistic sort, fast and mean and taking no prisoners. It’s satisfying even in no-frills demo production, the band destructively shredding through four tracks of menacing riffs and relentless hoarse growls like a chainsaw through bone. Here’s hoping they lean into the solos more in whatever comes next, because the one in “Retributional Pits of Torment” is a damn facemelter.

Altar of Gore – Infinite Visions of Violence
Death metal from New Jersey, USA
Released January 7 via independent/self-release

In service of a commitment to the concept, Altar of Gore is the product of a man who calls himself Acolyte of the Foul Ones, in case you were wondering if this sounds as filthy and evil as the cover implies. Swampy and sickening and permeated with vile ritualism, this is as murky and ugly as death metal gets. A 20-minute study in the sort of horrid rites that would make Lovecraft proud, Infinite Visions of Violence is a bite-size chunk of gore that is absolutely worth the listen. The leads by Joe Averario are flat out grimy, rumbling and pounding along with the cavernous drums to create a miasma of bestial violence that could’ve been recorded next to a bloody altar in a cave. The fourth and final track is a Hellhammer cover (“Aggressor”), and the way they morph from grinding filth to a grubby take on blackened thrash is deliciously sordid, too.