DEMOLYN: Tales Of Demolyn
Release year: 2022
Remember demos? You know, back in the day, when bands would record self-produced material in their rehearsal room or some cheap studio and release it themselves on tape, later CDr? The advent of streaming platforms, and easy access to them has largely rendered the demo an obsolete concept. Nowadays, “self-released digital album” is often very much the same thing.
And no, I’m not speaking in derisive tones here. Demos were cool. Beside the classics, who showcased acts mature far beyond their years, delving into the demo scene allowed one to glimpse many diamonds-in-the-rough, some of whom would later bloom and even more who would vanish without a trace. I liked demos.
And in the same way, I like listening to the occasional self-released digital album. I don’t set my standards lower – that’s not the correct way to describe it – I just learn to listen past superficial clumsies and oopsies, and hear the potential. You can occasionally spot talent beneath the at times uneven DIY facade.
Which brings us to Swedish one-man black metal act Demolyn and their first release, Tales Of Demolyn. Yes, of course, given the intro: a self-released digital album. And their first one at that. So, I feel, thinking of this as a demo is the correct way to approach Tales Of Demolyn, though with a running time of 42 minutes it’s definitely album length.
And, to be sure, there are some “demo-like” aspects here. Productionwise, things have come a long way since the mythical days of the 90’s – which is where Demolyn take their musical cues from – so not “demo-like” as in hissing, muddled sound and barely decipherable riffs. No, soundwise Tales Of Demolyn is passably solid. The (what I assume to be programmed) drums sound a bit plastic and maybe their programming is a bit clumsy at times, and there’s the occasional minor blunder in the playing, but even here Demolyn throw in a pretty solid effort for a debut release.
The most prominent “demo-like” aspect of Demolyn is more a certain rawness of character. A certain lack of individuality, which in turns comes across as a vague musical identity. Tales Of Demolyn not only bows to the iconic names of old, but moulds itself a bit too strongly after them.
But, again, thinking of this as a release closer akin to a demo than a debut album, the above is not a cardinal sin. Were this a name signed to a semi-significant label, I might consider it a bit of a throwaway effort. But it’s not; Tales Of Demolyn is the first offering of a young act.
Looking at things from that perspective, what are the things Demolyn have going for them?
Well, as already mentioned: a passable sound and passable musicianship. Songs that are solid if not particularly memorable. And, significantly, songs with variation: faster songs, slower songs, some acoustic passages, etc. The skill to quite adeptly emulate the sound of yore – think a mix of early Immortal, the spruce forest coldness of Satyricon and Isengard, the raw melodicism of classic No Fashion bands (Noctes, Mörk Gryning…). Nice vocals with a classic, raw shrieking tone.
On the downside, the lack of own musical identity and the slightly forgettable nature of most tracks, as well as the occasionally pretty plastic drum sound, are what’s keeping Demolyn at “demo level” at this stage.
But none of those are particularly fatal shortcomings, are they?
In its unashamedly “retro” style, Tales Of Demolyn does a lot of things right. I genuinely like the atmosphere – and of course for an old fart like myself, nostalgia always hits the spot. Though Demolyn still have things to work on before they’re ready to hit “the big time”, there’s nothing fundamentally broken here. More to the contrary, I’d say.
If this had been released as a demo tape or CDr back in the day when those were still really a thing, I’m quite sure a lot of people would have been positively impressed, not only with the production values but with the material as well. And, truthfully, a lot worse material has been released as bona fide albums.
Tales Of Demolyn has potential. I really hope that Demolyn stick around, hone their craft and return in the future with a release – self-released or otherwise – that cashes in on that promise. I’d hate to see this as one of those bands that quietly disappears into the night.