Artist: Fires of Hell
Album Title: The Great Portals Shall Open
This is the second demo from Fires of Hell, a Finnish band playing black metal.
The sound on this demo is quite an improvement from the first, especially the drum machine, which sounds a lot more natural here, for the most part. The vocals show plenty of variety, with both raw snarls and Beherit-esque vomits. I like how the bass keeps perfect time without following the guitar too exactly, in the tradition of fellow Finns Barathrum.
The songwriting on this demo is smoother than on the last, with no poor transitions or halting spots. Once in a while, the drum machine becomes a bit too obvious (as at the end of "Love of a Necromancer"), but it's usually not too bad. "Dark Knowledge of the Ancients" is straightforward and a bit rocking. I like the bass interludes here, and the vocal intensity during the transitions between the subsequent Beherit-like sections. I especially like the bizarre solo and piano piece in the middle "Love of a Necromancer" -- the unsettling feeling here is great! The vocal delivery on the chorus is equally weird. "Deadly Lycanthropia" alternates between straightforward riffing and more atmospheric sections. The distant guitar during the slow parts of this song is particularly nice. The bass and guitar section that opens "Demon's Blood" is probably the best part of this CD. Both this and the solo later on are very reminiscent of Countess, which is never a bad thing. The dual-vocals part is neat, too. "Metal Love" is a bit of a change of pace, with an anthemic pace, Manowar style heavy metal lyrics, and a rock-n-roll solo in the middle. The over-the-top vocals at the end are fun, too. The thoughtful guitar piece that opens "My Path" is a nice touch, one that leads into a galloping pace and some cool bass work.
This demo is a huge improvement over the first one. Fires of Hell still displays its influences a bit too openly, but the songs are catchy and strong, so who cares? If you're looking for black metal with an old-school sound, this demo is worth checking out. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "The Love of a Necromancer", "Demon's Blood"