So It Goes, the second full length from Chilean thrashers Demoniac, is a bit of a strange record. It’s also a pretty wicked cool record, but let’s start with the strange side first. The most notably odd aspect* is that the third song, “Extraviado,” is largely a clarinet feature. Yes, clarinet on a thrash record. Said track isn’t particularly thrashy, as it’s more of a melodic detour from the album’s typically frantic pace and activity, but at four and a half minutes, it also isn’t really an interlude. So what exactly was Demoniac thinking?
The rest, the bulk of these 42 minutes, is a wild, impossibly fun ride. About half of Demoniac’s core sound operates in the more intense end of the thrash pool, adding a blackened edge (particularly in the vocals) and a good amount of technical prowess. It isn’t exactly tech in the old school sense of the term, more clinically murderous in a Dark Angel type of way.
Countless bands do this, and many of them quite well. Where Demoniac differs is their employment of neoclassical or “orchestral thrash” elements in the riff progressions and leads. Parts of the proggier, near-20-minute title track, for example, feel like an homage to Metallica’s most thoughtful moments, with bubbly bass lines backing up riffs that aren’t too far off from an “Orion” feel. The band also gets how to land some instant bombast with great and timely tom rolls (sometimes of the roto variety) and massive, unified hits. It’s all a bit more dramatic and theatrical than your typical thrash record, and it doesn’t take a clarinet to get there.
All of this is great, but there’s one huge reason to listen to this record: the leads. So It Goes is absolutely overflowing with soloing and dual leads that fly, soar, shred, blaze, dodge, duck, dive, dip, dodge, and everything in between. In opener “RSV – Fools Coincidence – Testigo,” the leads absolutely pop, bursting out of really great thrash sections as they tell their own stories, add to the narrative whole, and inform what comes after (a harmonized, ultra speed-picked section at about the three minute mark is particularly sweet). Each of these sections seems to heighten the overall feel of each song, and there is always more around the corner. It’s easy to focus on the greatness of an individual riff, bass line, drum roll, or solo, but not enough can be said about the flow of each tune, and the leads, more than any other aspect, carry the torch in that department.
Demoniac would likely be great as just a regular thrash band. The ability to rip and tear when necessary, and the often rapid-fire vocals (“EET’S A TRAP!”) put them on par with plenty of greats. But it’s their tendency to not necessarily think like a thrash band that puts them over the top. The odder, extra elements, such as some piano or that clarinet (which comes back in the title track and brings its friend the sax), show just how different their mentality is, but it’s the narrative quality of it all that defines their sound.
It’s easy to imagine this band being a bit unpredictable and nutty in the future, but as long as they keep peppering their music with all that shreddy magic, the tunes are apt to stay as cool as they are here.
*Other than perhaps the cover art, which depicts a very unhealthy-lookin’ fellow holding someone else’s detached arm, which is definitely not what I thought was going on the first 25 times I looked at it.