Blood Chalice – Demo 2016

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Label: Signal Rex

War metal isn’t really that sophisticated a genre. Arguably the most extreme of all extreme metal styles, it’s quite easy for such an intense meeting of black, death, and grind to collapse on itself, falling apart under the weight of its own intensity. Furthermore, the differences between an excellent record and a sub-par one can be small, especially when a band isn’t trying to push the genre out of its (relative) comfort zone. So, it’s quite thrilling to hear a band get everything right first time, as Blood Chalice do on their Demo 2016. Fans of the likes of Black Witchery and Diocletian will want to get right on this.

Right from the opening moments of first track “Desecration Of Inri”, it’s clear that this is no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners war metal. The demo possesses a similar grinding intensity to Black Witchery, hitting that same kind of ultra-violent transcendence/depravity as that mighty band do at their best. Not that the impression is ever created that Blood Chalice are lacking in ideas – they may not do anything too new with the style, but they play it with such passion and conviction that any doubts are crushed underfoot. Tracks like “The Descent” and “Necromancy” are as punishing as anyone else can offer, which is especially impressive for a first demo. And repeat listens reveal more of Blood Chalice’s own character, with those subtle aspects that help give such extreme bands their own distinct sound.

The production is pretty impressive too, with the guitars having plenty of power to them, and the vocals coming across strongly and clearly. The only complaint on this front is that, at their fastest and most extreme, the drums can sometimes sound a bit too processed, and lose a bit of punch. But, given that this is a demo, you’d be a fool to hold this against the band too much – it certainly doesn’t spoil the music.

And really, it must be emphasized just how impressive this demo is. Blood Chalice hit heights of violence and depravity that would make veterans of the genre proud, combining technical prowess with utter devastation. This bodes very well for the future; if Blood Chalice can build on this demo, then they’re sure to become one of war metal’s greats.

Demo 2016 can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp. A cassette version, limited to 100 copies, is available from Signal Rex, due for release in late June/July 2016.

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