The last time I heard US black metal OG Demoncy was 1999’s Joined in Darkness, an ultra-gnarly one-man affair that to this day is one of the most desolate, subterranean-sounding recordings I’ve ever experienced. I somehow missed out on 2003’s Empire of the Fallen Angel, which was apparently a full band effort and not nearly as well-received; I have a hard time imagining Demoncy as anything other than a solitary undertaking, both as an entity and a listening experience, as Joined in Darkness is surely one of those albums best digested in complete isolation, darkened room optional, but definitely preferred. Given my fondness for that now fourteen-year-old album, I was very much looking forward to a proper sequel, and I’m pleased to say that Demoncy mastermind Ixithra has delivered with Enthroned is the Night, released last year on Forever Plagued Records, a label that’s quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about Enthroned is the Night is the guitar tone; thick, syrupy and burly as all hell. It’s a tone similar to that of recent Profanatica recordings, but Ixithra wields that demolishing distortion with far more aptitude. Granted, there’s nothing going on here that you haven’t heard before, but there’s just something about the album, and the atmosphere it creates, that’s compelling in spite its bare bones nature. In this respect, Enthroned is the Night is consummate black metal, all enveloping obsidian buzz, clattering synthetic (I assume) drums and chilling death-croak vox, using the only the basics to create a grotesquely entrancing musical journey into the starless abyss.
To be sure, the album is a wonder of blackened minimalism; you won’t find any symphonic flourishes on Enthroned is the Night, just bulldozer USBM that manages to be supernaturally eerie and heavy as fuck all at the same time. Black metal bands typically fall into two categories; bands with production that sounds great but retains little if any of black metal’s mystique, and bands that create oodles of atmosphere but suffer from weak recording quality. Demoncy has managed to combine the best of both worlds here, with the aforementioned pavement-saw guitar cutting through a slightly murky mix that coats the album in a layer of otherworldly creepiness.
One track flows into the next like smoldering black magma over the album’s forty-plus minute run time, making it next to impossible to pick standout tracks. Of course, an album this single-minded surely isn’t about individual songs, it’s about crafting a total environment of grimness and primitivism. Much like Joined in Darkness, Enthroned is the Night is an album perfectly suited to time spent alone and in the shadows.
Enthroned is the Night reminds us that at it’s core black metal is about malevolence and misanthropy. Sure, USBM has grown and diversified significantly in the twenty-four years since Demoncy first manifested itself, but there’s still much to be said for a band that holds true to the genre’s original tenets, weathering a never-ending onslaught of trends and so-called progression. Demoncy is surely that band, spewing forth ancient death and darkness to devour everything in its path.