You know what you’re getting into when you see that brutal wood-cut cover art, a dripper scythe standing in for an “i” in the band’s name. If that didn’t seal the deal for raucous blackened thrash that South Carolina’s Demiser churn out on their debut Through the Gate Eternal then maybe this description from the band’s press kit will help: whiskey and speed fueled, demon-worshipping metal from hell. This is the sound of a band taking European and American thrash and crushing it into the dirt of black metal with the ash-stained heel of Motörhead. In other words, right up my alley.
The origins of Demiser lie in the musical influence of its band members, but the driving force is Demiser the Demiser, who not only know how to nail a metal name with all the rock and pomp required to sell the sound, but as stared in the interview he did with Fearless Editor Josh had the germs for what he wanted to accomplish with Demiser for quite a while. You can hear that idea take root, raw and gnarled but almost fully formed on their 2018 three-track demo Surrender to Sin, where the initial versions of “Demiser the Demiser” and the hilariously on-point named “Warlock Demon Lust” already have the tight attack and riff worship of the best classic extreme metal like Venom, Kreator, and – yes – Motörhead, along with more modern outfits like Aura Noir and Toxic Holocaust. But Through the Gate Eternal takes the molten metal of those songs and hones them to a razor’s edge. This isn’t a sloppy, recorded in a cavern “modern” metal record. The guitars have teeth, letting every riff tear into you as the drums and bass lock into a pocket with military precision. No, it’s not technical, but the technicality on display right up from and with the opening title track is something else.
From there it’s one face-scarring blitz after another. There’s something almost Slayer-like in the intro of “Offering” with the harmonized leads and the way the drums lead into the first head-banging riff before counting off to the speed attack to come. But if you think you’ve nailed their take along comes “Deathstrike” with a serious rock and roll swagger. The solo makes you wanna get up and rock some mean air guitar, and while yeah sure: air guitar isn’t the coolest thing in the world anymore, this is a band that knows what it’s shooting for, and that’s to rock hard and supreme, with enough sweat to extinguish the torches held aloft for more, always more.
“Raw Fucking Vomit” starts epic, with a galloping, martial feel to its opening until we land firmly back in speed metal territory. Tremolo leads abound, and the whole “blackened” vibe rears its ugly head. After a brief acoustic interlude “Unholy Sacrifices” keeps on a blasphemous keel, upping the black metal ante until “Hook and Torment” comes in with a truly righteous hook that would have been a massive hit live if anyone could tour in the Year Of Our Lord COVID. I can imagine bodies just heaving and writhing in a rhythmic wave as this song plays out. Putting something this infectious so late in the album is another win for my favorite kind of record: short and punchy the entire way. Ending with revamped versions of “Demiser the Demiser” and “Warfuck Demon Lust” Through the Gate Eternal runs just shy of 35 minutes…a perfect length to get in, buy you a beer, punch you in the throat, and leave.
We don’t have enough bands out there in metal who just want to get in and rock hard the way we used to do it back when denim was everywhere and cassettes weren’t a niche collectable. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of what’s come in the last 30+ years…wouldn’t trade it for the world. But Demiser make a strong case for just getting out there and being metal as F–K without also trying to create a mythology, drown you in philosophy, or draw you into despair. They want to thrash, rock, and leave a pile of bodies in their wake, and Through the Gate Eternal does that in (Ace of) spades.