Praise the Horned One! Pandemonium are back… At least, that was my first erotic thought when I received this album. Yet then again, Devilri… Wasn’t that something old…? So, I checked it out, and there are two observations: 1 this indeed deals with very old stuff (my mind, after decades of [self-censorship] and 2 WTF, but I seem to have missed this band’s last album?!
But first things first, and that’s a short biography / discography. Pandemonium deserve this, for they are protagonists. They started playing under this moniker at the end of the Eighties, with some highly interesting demonstrational recordings back then, amongst which the 1992-demo-tape Devilri. In 1994 the band released its fantastic / fabulous debut full length (tape) The Ancient Catatonia, via Baron Records (back then one of the most interesting Extreme Metal labels from East-Europe). This album, FYI, has been re-released afterwards, with inclusion of the Devilri-demo as bonus. Then things changed, and Pandemonium disbanded (reason, and I won’t go to deeply within this matter, had to do with the legal courtesy to use this name, based on an issue in between some of the members) in order to continue as Domain (with three acceptable full albums on their discography). Ten years ago, more or less, Domain was transformed into the early moniker, Pandemonium, with two more albums (though less interesting). And then, in 2010, the band truly satisfied my eardrums with a promotional release (simply called Promo 2010), which was probably the most mature stuff done by the band ever. And then I will come to the second observation I made in this review’s first paragraph, since Pandemonium apparently did record and release an album in 2012, called Misanthropy (for the title only, I am disappointed I was not aware of this stuff…). It was released via Pagan Records, one of the oldest and strongest labels from Poland, and even more successful than Baron. And I missed it…
Brings me to this compilation, called after the Devilri-demo (though, in this case, entitled as Devilri – Extended Edition), including other stuff as well. The compilation starts with the demo-material, which was initially released in February 1992 via Carnage Records. And that demo, well, let’s say that it is one of the reasons to adore the Polish scene back then. Okay, there were more great combos out there, but this demo was one of the best things ever done on Polish soil. What Devilri brought (brings) is a slow to mid-tempo oriented form of very obscure and sinister Occult Death Metal, highly influenced by the likes of Samael (more than once, especially riff-wise, it sounds as their purest source of inspiration, like it was almost an evidence on their debut rehearsal – see next paragraph), Necrophobic, Paradise Lost, Asphyx, Torchure, Demigod, Goatlord or Obituary. All right, it might sound archaic, but back then it was grandiose, and admit: it still hits like a sledgehammer smashing up your nuts. The list of comparisons I just summed up is pretty varying, but I did so on purpose, for this band had an own, specific sound, mixing elements from all those relatives, yet combining their sounds with a very own vision and approach. Don’t expect experimental sideways or progressive trendiness. No, this band did focus on the essence of Satanic Dark Metal in each single aspect, but it was successful, and still now it pleases my sensitive eardrums. Besides the excellent growls, abyssal deep they are, I do need to mention the use of creepy, eerie keyboard lines once in a while, absolutely being a surplus.
After the Devilri-demo, Devilri – Extended Edition continues with Reh/Promo 1990, the band’s self-released promotional rehearsal cassette from 1990. It was Pandemonium’s first recording, and it was somewhat darker than their demo Devilry. It’s this stuff that was eventually used for the demo, but this rehearsal tape sounded much more blackened, and the versions that made it to the 1992-demo sound different. And oh yes, the band’s Samael-worship was oh so evidently present at that time. It was (and still is) fine with me, for I have always deeply adored the earliest creations by this legendary Swiss act (before they turned mainstream, but that’s another story). And what’s more: this tape even included a Samael-cover, i.e. their legendary and classic master-piece Into The Pentagram.
This compilation ends with material recorded live in 1991 at a festival called S’Thrash’Ydlo. Of course the sound sucks, but this retrospective glory can’t disappoint the hard-core fan. It also proves the band’s craftsmanship, their ability to perform live on stage, and their persuasion and enthusiasm. Despite the terrible sound quality, this is a nice gift!