India, though not a country that usually people normally relate with metal, maintains a steadily growing trajectory with newer bands popping up and breaking through the local scene, the upper echelon of whom even release successful records on American/European labels. A lion’s share of spearheading the Indian metal explosion is the concerted efforts of one man, Sahil Makhija (aka Demonstealer). His record label Demonstealer Records have propelled Indian extreme metal bands to heights previously unexplored with national and international audiences.
Though Demonstealer is most associated as the frontman/guitarist of the symphonic death metal band Demonic Resurrection, he has been steadily releasing records under his solo project of the same name, and 2021’s EP The Holocene Termination is the latest in that catalog following close on the heels of 2020’s EP And This Too Shall Pass. This EP is 4 tracks of thrashy blackened death metal, for fans of Vader, Aeon, and pre-theatrics Behemoth. Demonstealer has routinely featured international veterans to help co-write and record various instruments on his tracks, and this EP is no exception, featuring members of Fleshgod Apocalypse, Six Feet Under, Gorgasm, The Amenta, Equipoise, Marduk, and Deathspawn.
What you get with The Holocene Termination is chunky death metal with the usual trimmings. Highlights include the surprisingly (yet altogether unsurprising) melodic solo at the hands of Equipoise’s Nick Padovani. The standout track of the EP is “From Extinction Begins Evolution” with blistering drums courtesy of Marduk’s Simon Schilling, thick bass lines via Gorgasm (and Bass YouTube sensation) Anton Zhikharev as well as guitar sections written by Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Fabio Bartoletti. The riffs remind us of cranked up At the Gates/Gothenburg Melodeath sounds, backed up with blackened death drum arrangements. The final track “What She Creates, She Will Destroy” features female vocals delivered by Fleshgod’s very own operatic diva Veronica Bordacchini. Though these vocals are always a fresh addition to extreme metal, they are more at home with Fleshgod Apocalypse’s own songwriting and feel a tad clumsy with Demonstealer’s arrangements.
The instrumentation is top-notch harvesting talent from bands that are pillars of their own subgenres. The bass lines written by Six Feet Under’s Jeff Hughell cut through the mix tastefully and make their presence known on the title track “The Holocene Termination” as well as “What She Creates She Will Destroy”. Demonstealer’s rhythm guitar style has never been overly technical, and this EP is not a feat in tech-death mastery yet holds its own. A major gripe with the mix on the EP is the choice of rhythm guitar tone and its space in the mix. The riffs are muddy and nigh indecipherable, especially in the more busy layered sections at the lower register. At first glance, it appears that Makhija/Demonstealer chose an “old school” raw tonal approach to guitar tones, but the finished product was found lacking, and really took away from a lot of the more enjoyable rhythm sections. A major improvement from his previous releases has been found in the vocals. The Holocene Termination showcases Demonstealer’s vocals at the highest quality that he has ever belted out, with significant improvements to his delivery, pitch, cadence, and lyrical arrangements at the low, mid, and high register!
Demonstealer’s “The Holocene Termination” is a solid slab of blackened thrashy death metal, filled to the brim with superlative musicianship courtesy of some of the best bands out there. Here’s hoping for another full-length in the not-so-distant future!