The Finnish band Demilich are kind of like the undead Dungeons & Dragons creature of the same name. They’re monstrous, mysterious and pretty much one of a kind.
Seriously, they’re monstrous. Particularly vocalist Antti Boman. His voice is like standing on the precipice of a bottomless black pit. This guy’s voice is so deep and gutural, that you aren’t positive that they haven’t just trained a bear or a crocodile to handle vocal duties.
Of course, because his voice is so deep and gutural, you can’t even make out the majority of what he says. But that’s OK. His voice is more of an instrument itself than something used to relay emotion or thought.
And luckily, he’s got a cadre of talented and proficient musicians to back him up.
In their sole official studio album, Nespithe, pretty much make one of the most death metal of death metal albums. It’s really something that has to be heard to be believed.
Aside from Boman, Demilich is Aki Hytönen on guitar, Ville Koistinen on bass and Mikko Virnes on drums. The band as a whole bring talent and skill to Demilich that a lot of their peers lacked, whether it be Hytönen’s technical skill, Koistinen’s grooves or Virnes’ percussion, they all contribute something to make the whole greater than any of its pieces, though, Boman still sticks out a bit above the rest, mostly by being such a rare voice.
I think one of the interesting things about Demilich is the lack of attention they received from the metal press, even that which covered “extreme” music like Metal Maniacs (unless you were Deicide, of course). I honestly never heard much about them, except occasionally coming across their name here and there. So, I had no clue that this album was one of the high points of the genre. But, it was released on a small label, originally, and would be later reissued by bigger ones.
The cover art does scream “we had to hire one of our friends to do the cover because commissioning an artist costs to damn much.” That may not be the case, but man, you definitely see a difference in the art on Nespithe and other death metal albums from the time.
The album gets off with a strong start with the absurdly titled “When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water.” This opening gives you a taste of what to come, which is some technical death metal with a lot of tempo changes, but some pretty strong writing that keeps things wrapped together. Plus a nice, dark guitar to boot.
Speaking of titles, “When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water” is not the shortest title on the album. Almost all of the tracks have one of these long and difficult to remember names.
The solos on this album, by the way, are excellent. They sound like exactly what a death metal solo should be: Melodious but dark, with a sense of an echo.
“The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son of Fourteen Four-Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed)” is the second track and it continues the death metal goodness. It has a groove to it that you can hum to, between the blast beats that is.
But, really, the first standout is the third track, “Inherited Bowel Levitation – Reduced Without Any Effort.” It’s got your blast beat that goes into a slower down-tuned grind and then back into blast beats with Boman’s vocals over them.
As with a lot of technical death metal albums, it’s hard to pick standouts. This creates the situation where excellent musicianship can undermine an album’s appeal. There’s just so much quality stuff that it all kind of gets melted into a big cauldron of different elements where none is greater than the other.
But, as you know, that won’t stop me from trying.
I think my favorite tracks on here are “(Within) The Chamber of Whispering Eyes” and “Inherited Bowel Levitation – Reduced Without Any Effort” which kind of typify what the band is about, bringing ferocity, speed, melody and groove together in a dark storm of bludgeoning sound.
Another standout is “And You’ll Remain… (In Pieces in Nothingness)” is where Koistinen gets to shine. The bass on this song is somewhat monstrous, matching Boman’s guttural gurgles in deepness. Similarly, he brings it for another song, “The Cry,” another solid track on the album.
Would I recommend Nespithe. Well, if you’re into death metal or extreme music, then it’s definitely a must have. It takes the genre to its downtuned and gutural end, a line I’ve yet to hear broken.
If you’re an easily shaken listener or someone who likes their music easy to swallow, then I wouldn’t recommend Nespithe.
As far as death metal goes, I’d say this sits near the top as far as what I’ve heard from the genre. That’s not something I say lightly, considering I’ve been listening for more than 25 years now.