Draconis Infernum [Singapore]
Rites of Desecration & Demise
Hass Weg Productions
Singapore’s Draconis Infernum returns this year, releasing their long-awaited follow up to Death in My Veins, Rites of Desecration & Demise. With last year’s cock-teasing Proclamation of Encroachment single already giving listeners a preview to 3 new tracks, (and being a self-proclaimed Draconis Infernum fanboy), finally getting to listen to the album was certainly exciting for me.
The opening track, Regime of the Underworld immediately gives the listener a taste of what’s to come for the rest of the album, with the trebly guitar tone, similar to that on Death in My Veins. With vocalist Kount Cider’s departure and drummer Serberuz Hammerfrost taking over vocal duties, there was bound to be a pretty large impact on the band’s sound, as already evident on the tracks off the Proclamation of Encroachment single. Kount Cider’s powerful shrieks certainly carried the music on Death in My Veins well, while Serberuz Hammerfrost registers vocals of a lower range, choosing instead to drag out the lyrics, instead of the hateful spitting of the lyrics that Kount Cider preferred.
The musical direction also seems to take a slight shift compared to Death in My Veins. Death in My Veins provided an in-your-face style of black metal, with riffs after punishing riffs lashed out upon the listener, yet on Rites of Desecration & Demise, this is replaced by riffs that instead choose to leave listeners with a feeling of unease, feeling almost as if one were hanging at the edge of a cliff. Sound effects are also nicely utilised to enhance this ominous atmosphere, such as the tolling of the bells at the beginning of the title track, Rites of Desecration & Demise. There is also the surprise instrumental track, …Of Darkness & Solitude, a piano rendition of the band’s debut album title track, Death in My Veins. While it could sound cheesy to some listeners, this track certainly caught my attention with the brilliant arrangement. With the sound of a storm raging and thunder at the background of the song, …Of Darkness & Solitude breeds a depressive feeling in the listener, sounding almost as if this were the end of everything, yet causing chaos once more with the remaining tracks on the album. The inclusion of the cover of Bathory‘s Satan My Master is certainly a nice bonus for fans, and also features Xaphan from Kult ov Azazel on vocals and guitars. His screeching vocals are unmistakable, and the chaotic guitar solo (while not on the original) provides a nice addition to the song and a fitting tribute to Quorthon.
The lyrical direction of the band also takes a change, with the band instead focussing more on Eastern mythology instead of the usual (boring) anti-Christian overtones, which could take a while to get used to (after all, how often do you hear a vocalist screaming “YAN LUO WANG”?). However, it is also due to this shift in musical direction and the inclusion of non-conventional lyrical contents that makes it hard for casual listeners to decipher what Serberuz Hammerfrost is screaming unless one reads the accompanying booklet for the lyrics. Despite having listened to the Proclamation of Encroachment single over and over again, it still left me scratching my head, wondering what the actual lyrics to the song was.
There were a couple of factors that made the album less enjoyable than it should be though. The drums on the album sounded slightly too triggered, resulting in a very artificial tone, even when compared to the sound on Death in My Veins. At times, such as the opening rolls on Vengeance Unto Thee, it sounded almost as if the drums were programmed. Also, the guitar solos at times sounded slightly awkward, such as on The Grand Conjuration, where the tone of the guitar sounded out of place with the rest of the instruments. While the bluesy solos were certainly a nice touch, it would have been better if the guitar had a more trebly tone to it, more inline with the tone of the rhythm guitars. While the polished production quality on Death in My Veins felt at home, in this album, a raw production could be more suited for the songs, as already evident on the Proclamation of Encroachment single. Nevertheless, it would be familiar ground for long-time fans of Draconis Infernum.
2008’s Death in My Veins has set the foundation upon which Draconis Infernum writes their music, and with Rites of Desecration & Demise, the band has further displayed their growth and maturity as songwriters, despite the slight shift in musical direction.
Draconis Infernum’s Rites of Desecration & Demise is now available on HMT distro.