Nespithe-DEMILICH-1993


We are nothing. The Universe works without logic and this is the only logic, and I am not referring to the laws of physics. There is no apparent logic to why things are how they are. Existence is existence is existence, and there is nothing more to it. We might develop time travel, or explore the farthest ends of the universe, but that would have no inherent meaning to it. Human beings keep rationalizing, endlessly, all through their puny lives, and find their own meaning for their existence in this universe, for every act they perform. Mass movements arise and a section of the masses give their own meaning to how existence should be, but in the end, it will turn out how it will turn out, and no one can say this was for better or that was for the worse. The Earth could go up in flames tomorrow but the Universe won’t shed tears, and no one else would mourn. Everything exists for its own sake and there is no other meaning to it.

Or at least that is the feeling communicated by the music of the Finnish band, Demilich. Heavily bass driven, providing only rhythm and harmony but no obvious melodies, and therefore providing no obvious emotional cues for listener to latch on to and pinpoint. This is a monument to nihilistic beauty that death metal used to delight in before Cannibal Corpse started making pop music for adolescents. However, Demilich stands apart from everything that existed before and after in metal art. There is no rage, no screams of pain; while casual listeners would obviously exclaim and see no difference between this and a band like, say, Deicide or Morbid Angel, Demilich is very different music, and stands quite on its own, unique. The closest that I can come to comparing this with anything that I have ever heard, is, not surprisingly, the music of popular music’s only true avant garde savant, Frank Zappa. Just like Zappa, the music leaves you fumbling, in the cold, excluded. The emotional sparseness of Demilich and Zappa is not easy to bear, and therefore it is easily understandable that Demilich alienates the audience, and is not easy to expose oneself to. The vocals are easily the highlight, and it is the style rather than the actual content of the lyrics that led me to the philosophizing in the first para. The low, guttural….I don’t know how quite to describe them, but this is easily the greatest vocal performance on a metal album, ever. The bassist truly carries the music here, driving the guitars to follow the lines, and logically increasing the scope of the initiating riff. The creation of atmosphere without any gimmicks, please teach the same to the post metal hipsters of today!

While metal musicians might attempt to impose their own meaning on the music they create through lyrcis and album art, great art acquires its own meaning, and becomes unique to each listener. Therefore, the lyrics remain the surface meaning, and it is the music that belongs to each listener that achieves a life of its own. This is ugly, cruel, and therefore, absolutely beautiful music. It exists, in a vacuum, without cynicism, or fear or anger. It just is.

-Baba T

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