REVIEW: Demoraliser – A Living Nightmare [2012]

Artist: Demoraliser

Album: A Living Nightmare

Rating: 10/10



Anger and aggression has long since been driving factor and time-tested conduit in the hands of bitter, experienced musicians. Time and time again, anger and resentment find themselves easily and effectively expressed lyrically and transgressed musically–and while it may seem like the easy way out, it is anything but. Any vocalist who’s ever been dumped can rant about a failed relationship. Anyone who’s lost anyone can complain about how much it sucks, but it takes a hard-hearted mastermind of malcontent to effectively express anger and primitive misanthropy. Especially to do so as effectively as British beatdown legends, Demoraliser. Demoraliser’s latest release and debut full-length album, A Living Nightmare is a juggernaut of unstoppable anguish, using crushing heaviness and primal fury to convey the most heartfelt animosity and pain that metalcore has to offer.

The first and most superficial form of pain Demoraliser bring upon the listener is found in A Living Nightmare’s drums and guitars. Packed with blistering, crushing heavy-soft combinations of melody and brutality and stinging, lacerating snare hits buried amongst tidal, splashy cymbals, Demoraliser use instrumental proficiency to drown the listener in acrimony. “Checkmate” and “The House Always Wins” are both stellar examples of this–the former using a sly transfer into a heavy, slippery groove and the latter using weaving, dynamic guitar lines to lace the punishing, heavy drums and bass with pummeling, jabbing and jarring fretwork. “Eye to Eye” also undergoes a melodic metamorphosis nearing the track’s halfway point, as the guitars soar upwards through the layers of thick, suffocating hate the band and laid throughout the song. Just as the song seems it will end on a positive, uplifting note, however, it plunges downwards once more into a visceral, gutting breakdown sure to leave the listener wrenching in pure agony.

The second, deeper agony drawn upon in A Living Nightmare is one of love and loss–a pain which is no longer physical but creates a deeper, burning discontent deeper within the listener. This bitterness–a vexation of sorts–is found within the Freudian id-like lyrical concepts throughout the release. Constantly, a harder side of Demoraliser’s multifaceted aggression is found in the spat, harsh words of vocalist James Dexter. Dexter’s pure, vocal anguish cuts like a razor sharpened by misanthropic malice seamlessly through the listener’s skin, striking them on a much deeper level. Even when the musical backdrop of Dexter’s lyrical onslaught doesn’t hit quite so hard, the vocals are incessant. However, the most fearsome moments on Demoraliser’s A Living Nightmare are found neither in just the vocals or just the instruments, but rather when both combine to create an aggressive, pull-no-punches maelstrom of near-unbearable hate.

The third, deepest and most unstoppable level of animosity to be found is one that is nearly dialectic in nature–betrayal. The unequivocal, heart-igniting anger initiated by the curdling of a trusted friendship gone awry. Formed by the combination of aggressive, yet sparingly melodic instrumentals and no-holds-barred vocals, Demoraliser’s heaviest, most brutal sections are akin to the worst and most insidious forms of betrayal imaginable. Moments like the jaw-dropping, bone-splintering breakdown at the end of “Reap What You Sow,” and the lyrical firestorm within “Blood Meridian” are the archetype for the absolute efficacy of A Living Nightmare’s explosive, dynamic brutality. Furthermore, these moments are not only archetypical for the band, but for all bands and all kinds of heavy music. Nearly every artist in the hardcore, metalcore and beatdown scenes could learn from the uniquely emotional anger Demoraliser bring to the forefront of their album, be it instrumental, vocal or both.

Even if you value positivity and all of the pure–albeit markedly ignorant–bliss that comes from thinking on the happy side of life, there is always room for bitterness. Demoraliser capitalize on just that–harkening back to the darkest, most brooding day in everyone’s past and making it once more a reality in A Living Nightmare, an album which is a non-stop, incessantly brutal yet craftily melodic assault on the listener.


For Fans Of: Carcer City, The Ghost Inside, Odessa (UK), Legend, Shai Hulud, Shinto Katana


By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism

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