Demonic Resurrection

The Return to Darkness

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After a decade of hard work, Mumbai's Demonic Resurrection can proudly claim they've played a major role in putting India on the world-wide heavy metal map, one headbang at a time, and with 2010's The Return to Darkness -- the group's sophomore full-length and first international release, thanks to Candlelight Records -- their mission will surely get a whole lot easier. Especially since bandleader Sahil "The Demonstealer" Makhija and his not-so-merry men have delivered a consistently powerful and engaging album, guaranteed to impress above and beyond any token fan goodwill inspired by Demonic Resurrection's exotic origins alone. In fact, it's not too much of a stretch to state that, with this release, Demonic Resurrection have joined the ranks of top extreme metal alchemists as diverse as the Chasm, Melechesh, Scar Symmetry, and Orphaned Land, by infusing their well-established symphonic death and black metal fundamentals with a truly "progressive" array of foreign elements. These include, but are not limited to, surprisingly flashy guitar shredding, sinister serpentine melodies, quietly soothing passages, folk and native nuances, and even plenty of -- gulp! -- clean singing. As a result, the album's embarrassment of musical riches ("Where Dreams and Darkness Unite," "A Tragedy Befallen," "Bound by Blood, Fire and Stone," "Lord of Pestilence," etc.) strike as remarkable a balance between brutality and grace as such contrasts could possibly afford; and certainly more than many listeners could possibly have imagined. And keep in mind that the group's abundant orchestrations are pulled off without the luxury of securing the services of an actual orchestra (eat your hearts out, Dimmu Borgir), but rather through the multi-layered arrangements charted by keyboard player Jetesh "Mephisto" Menon. OK, so Demonstealer's harsh Cookie Monster vocals could use a little more character (or cookies!), a few late-album offerings finally fall short of "awesome," and the black and death metal conservatives out there will surely cry "sell-out" (or worse, "power metal!"), but heavy metal can always benefit from this sort of grand, slightly deranged, and risk-taking vision…the fact it comes from Mumbai is just gravy. Highly recommended.

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