Trying to review a demo is like judging a TV show on its first season. Take The Simpsons for example: the first season is rough. It’s full of animation glitches and defects. The jokes are there, but not as perfectly crafted as they would become during season 2 and beyond. This metaphor can be used when looking at a bands demo as well. It’s to be expected that a demo will have a less than stellar recording, but like any good TV show, the moments of genius will shine through.
Demo MMXVI is the first recording from Necrolytic Goat Converter, a one man project from Chris Voss. Using NGC as a way to express his thoughts about depression and isolation, Chris has made an excellent demo for those into 80’s/90’s death metal. The songs all have a mid-paced feel (or what I take as mid-paced in a world of tech-death overload) that wouldn’t feel out of place being played along side Covenant/Domination era Morbid Angel. And while the demo feels like it could be a long lost relic of the last century, the songs have enough modern metal aspect to keep them interesting and memorable. ‘Second Skin’ has a nice melodic middle section that will burrow it’s way into your skull and never leave. It also features a great solo towards the 4 minute mark.
The instrumentation throughout the demo is remarkable. While not being overly showy, the musicianship and competence Chris shows for each instrument is exceptional. The bass and drums (I’m still not 100% sure on whether or not the drums are a drum machine or real) play off of each other well while propping up Chris’s real strength: the guitar playing. Voss knows his way around some riffs. They’re catchy without losing speed or heaviness. I could see a song like ‘Throne Of Cold’ being an early At The Gates song, even down to his almost Tomas Lindberg style vocals.
Lyrically, Voss paints vivid pictures of sadness. “Upon your head there lies a broken crown/You are the King of all you are/There is no hope for absolution/Your soul is ground into the dust/In sunless skies I watch the universe collapse/Beneath the branches of my grave”, from ‘Absolution’, is an exceptional lyric that hits me hard.. It’s sung, as opposed to screamed, and fits well in the overall scheme of what ends up being my favorite song. It’s a doomy death metal jam that is reminiscent of parts of Turn Loose The Swans era My Dying Bride and completely nails the sound and feeling of isolation. The follow up song, ‘The Futility Of Self Revision’, is a great companion piece to ‘Absolution’, as well.
Demo MMXVI isn’t perfect. The sound quality, like most demos, leaves much to be desired. Some stuff muddles together a bit, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment. And like most first recordings, Voss wears his influenced on his sleeve. But all in all, Demo MMXVI is a stellar beginning to what I hope is a long string of albums from Chris Voss, be it under the Necrolytic Goat Converter name (which I understand is basically a joke name created from a conversation on Facebook) or something else down the line. Voss shows an excellent command of his instruments and I look forward to hearing what he has coming up next.
Album Highlights: Absolution, The Futility Of Self Revision, Throne Of Cold, Withdrawn
You can pick up a digital copy of
Demo MMXVI on Bandcamp HERE! It’s up for Pay What You Want, but support Chris so he can make more music!