Thursday, 5 March 2009

DEMETER

Band: ELISABETHA
Title: Demeter
Format: Cassette tape-only demo, with full colour double-sided inlay, released on W.A.R. (Austria) in 2003, catalogue reference WAR014
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 500

Track Listing:
01. Verdorbene Erde
02. Das Totenschiff Demeter (Logbucheintrage Aus Dem Nebelmeer)
03. Der Wolf (Puls Unendlicher Pein)

This was the third release from Elisabetha, following their 'Durst Nach Unsterblichkeit' demo of 2000 and a vinyl EP 'Bluthochzeit' from 2001. In a hand-numbered edition of only 500 (mine being #166) it is not uncommon to find, though you'll need to look long and hard across the more obscure distros to finally track one down. As with the demo tape from 2000, a quality production job in terms of both the glossy colour inlay and the inclusion of a full set of lyrics on its reverse. A three-man project, featuring 'Neon Asthet', 'Blutgraf' and 'Hollenfurst' (AW).

This demo follows in the established pattern of being a narrated "radio-play" style affair, based around the vampyric legends and dark, underworld atmospheres of the Carpathian region of Eastern Europe. Often described online as 'vampyric black metal' or similar epithets there is, I would venture, more of a gentle narrated ambiance that such a title would suggest. Certainly if you gave this to a hardened black metal fan I think they'd be somewhat confused...!

Now, as to the content of this tape I confess once again that my lack of German prohibits a literal summary of events (buy hey - there is the lyric sheet if you want to translate the piece verbatim) but musically it is very similar to the 2000 original demo. Lots of atmospheric keyboards, dark swirling melodies and rather nice, classical piano pieces (which is, of course, the direction that the project moved towards in the latter years).

There are fewer samples on this that the first demo (although there is a prevailing 'on a boat' theme of creaking wood and leather with waves lapping at the side of a vessel, suggesting a journey of the central character whilst the narration continues) but more guitar and piano pieces, some of them actually rather catchy. At two points there are riffs that reminded me immediately of psychedelic-period Status Quo (think 'Paradise Flats' era) which was great, if unexpected - I never thought I'd find comparisons between those two bands!

There are also a couple of short, slightly 'industrial' influences and sounds on here (the demo closes with one) that are reminiscent of our other old favourite, Bonemachine.

I like this a lot - the lack of full lyrical comprehension never really bothers me if the music and atmosphere do their part (and let's be honest, there are plenty of bands writing in English whose lyrics you can't understand, so why should it be an issue) and it's a great little tape to pop on in the dark of a winters evening, just as the last flecks of daylight are disappearing.....

Edit: I've just received this contribution from Alex: "Demeter is my fave ELISABETHA release!! The story is: Dracula's journey from Transylvania to London on a ship called "Demeter", beginning in an old castle in Transylvania where slaves put old earth into the coffins, ending when Dracula changed his shape into a Wolf in the streets of London at night..."

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