Demoncy are a band that I’ve always felt have never gotten their fair share of credit. Despite forming only a few years after their Norwegian contemporaries and being one of the first bands to bring black metal to North America with their 1993 demo Faustian Dawn, the band never seems to be mentioned in the same breath as many other greats, both from the US and abroad. While the band’s sound may have shifted in a different direction over the years, Faustian Dawn is nevertheless an important part of Demoncy’s legacy as well as that of black metal as a whole; it represents a snapshot in time to the beginnings of US black metal and helped pioneer the style in this country. With both the vinyl reissue of Faustian Dawn and the band’s appearance at California Death Fest happening this weekend, now is the perfect time to get acquainted (or re-acquainted as the case may be) with this classic work.
Formed in 1989 in the greater Atlanta, GA area by Ixithra, Demoncy were one of the original members of the early US black metal scene. Along with west coast contemporaries VON, Demoncy helped bring the sounds of Scandinavia into the thrash and death dominated metal scene of America. Their place in the underground’s hall of fame was cemented in 1999 when they released Joined in Darkness, an album of astoundingly heavy, ritualistic black metal that is still regarded as the pinnacle of the band’s career. Through lineup changes and missteps (2003’s Empire of the Fallen Angel) Demoncy is still going to this day. Now operating out of Seattle, WA, Ixithra and company are bringing the same darkness and decay to the black metal scene as when Faustian Dawn was first summoned into being.
While this was the second in a series of five demos released before their first full length Within the Sylvan Realms of Frost, Faustian Dawn was Demoncy’s first real introduction to the metal world (the previous demo tape consisted of only one three and a half minute long song). The ten songs on this demo contrast the band’s primitive style of black metal with moody keyboard instrumentals. Songs like “Winter Bliss” and “Hidden Path to the Forest Beyond” showcase the downtuned guitars and menacing vocals picked up from the likes of Beherit and Sarcofago while still structurally similar to anything you’d find on Mayhem’s De Mysteriis. The instrumental keyboard tracks, far from being simply filler material, serve to highlight the ’emotion over technical prowess’ mentality that black metal was founded on, and is a testament to the intertwined histories of black metal and dark ambient music.
Faustian Dawn is an album whose carefully crafted atmosphere evokes the kind of dripping darkness that would inspire legions of releases following it. While the US black metal scene now is mostly thought of in terms of atmospheric, nature-forward bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room or bands with a more artistic leaning such as Deafheaven, there existed a time when the US spewed forth some of the most foul and corrosive black metal the world over, and Faustian Dawn is directly responsible for that. Take a trip back in time with this classic album and see where it all began.
Faustian Dawn will be available October 15 on CD and vinyl from via Nuclear War Now! Productions. Catch Demoncy on stage at California Death Fest II October 16 at 7:35 PM. For more information on Demoncy visit the band’s official website.