Hailing from Finland and one of the leaders of the short lived Finnish scene that delivered some of the greatest music to ever grace the twentieth century and that genuinely scared most “metalheads” as this was truly an intellectual movement that retained the essence of metal while completely deviating from the norm musically. It is very hard to regroup these bands into a specific style but the closest connection between them is their ability to complete deform common scales and patterns with strategically chromatic notes.
Demigod had a strong understanding of how to make songs with a limited set of complex ideas and how to convey themes of apocalypse and human decay and the role a strong individual within that apocalypse. “As I Behold I Despise” is the first track after the intro and sets the frame of mind of what’s to come after through it’s use of a recursive melody that is always changing, blistering tremolo riffs and hyper active drums that don’t steal attention but empower the guitars.
A blistering tremolo picked riff on both guitars commences the song contained almost within the harmonic minor scale but stripped almost entirely of its oriental sound by adding a minor ninth and by barely referencing the root note. The octave is traditionally the most pleasing interval of all as It maintains a perfect ratio of 2/1. a minor ninth is just a semitone above the octave which adds tension to the interval without being as dissonant as more commonly used intervals in metal. A tactic used by Robert Schumann to add suspense to music which Demigod use very well by basing the melody around it. The root note has the role of tying down a melody and resolving it to add a feeling of completeness, it barely appears here adding a pensive feeling to the riff that searches for the answer. The concatenation of these elements brings to life immediately all themes of the album to follow as the narrator tells his tale in a state of complete awareness and a deep state of thought.
Introduction of second theme:
The tremolo from before changes slightly as to add stability by maintaining the same pace and by removing a lot of the notes as to allow space to introduce vocals and to diverge in a multitude of ways. Lyrically the narrator has come to the revelation of some great event through suffering and isolation from society. The gods are a metaphor that represent our narrator’s ability to see what others were unable to realize. The lyrics perfectly follow the melody as the introduction conveys the thinking process and the stabilization of the initial riff proves that our narrator has come to a conclusion that he is about to share with us.
Forsaken and lost
Alone below the darkest realm
Through the eyes of suffering
I have seen the gods from beyond
We are treated to a powerful riff showing ever so slightly its speed metal roots by slight syncopation but in a far less obvious manner than most speed metal metal bands. The root note doesn’t make a single appearance as we continue in the harmonic minor scale but this time with even more bizarre intervals that seem to be a minor and a major seventh but an octave above that are ambiguous intervals for their relative lack of consonance and dissonance. These intervals do tend to be common in jazz as they add a certain coolness that Demigod have transformed into forming the first iteration of the main melody in the song that slowly reveals the narrator’s epiphany. The drums slow down as the vocals are introduced while our protagonist acts upon the fruits of his thoughts as he embraces the oncoming devastation.
Fathers of time
Behold and forsake
Bring an end to our timeless existence
Deconstruction of the first theme:
A quick return to the second riff that is identical to its first appearance but rather than a safe point of return, the riff builds tension as it keeps away from the release of the second theme and forces patience upon the listener in the form of a diversion from the climax. All human idols have fallen at this point and their place is being overtaken by what is referred to darkness similarly to how Tolkien projected all of man’s defects into the one ring.
The almighty has fallen
No god to rule the vacant throne
As darkness takes over
The dark overlord shall dominate
The initial theme has been entirely deconstructed and reduced to an almost static riff, reflecting the destruction of humanity. Longer note groupings are juxtaposed with quick notes changes giving this an almost groovy feel due to some accent shifts. As those who want to submit to the frail notion of eternal peace are mocked as only suffering and anguish awaits them, those who understand the reality of the situation will seek to embrace and adapt to these dark times.
The fools who seek eternal peace
Shall wither Slowly to suffer
Again to reach the shores of death
We must be one with darkened earth
An obvious riff composed of two power chords panned to the right announces the narrator’s intention to reveal the first part of his truth. On top of that riff a melody eases itself into the melody of the second theme but this time the root note is fully present though an octave higher and the second part of the melody has been transposed an octave. By removing the tremolo picked from its previous iteration, Demigod have allowed to reveal all of its splendor and released all the tension accumulated up to now for a satisfying release but not before a fast dissonant riff cuts the melody short before revealing the truth that we have been waiting for. Again the main melody has been transposed but this time an octave higher. The two power chords from before have now formed a complete melody consisting of fairly complex diminished seventh chords known for their ambiguity and in this scenario showing again the pensiveness of the narrator. Mankind’s idols are but now a memory and have been abdicated of their power as what has replaced them is total emptiness. The greatest evil present here like Nietzsche wrote, is the complete lack of the will to power. Humans have discarded everything to become drones mindlessly aiming about without thought or the desire to exist.
As we are shadows in this dismal mist
We shall hear the moan of our gods
Cloak of darkness, the lord of all
Upon this valley of utter nothingness
As the vocals and the main melody fade, a guitar solo burst forth as an extension. Following closely the chord pattern and the mood imposed here. The solo recapitulates the melody and pushes it even further through a run of sixteenth notes while showing some joy from the death of Man. The last note being in the melodic minor scale leads perfectly to an interlude.
The guitars take turns blasting away a fun heavy metal styled riff, that shows joy even though it is in a minor scale through it’s catchiness and pedal point rhythms. The final growls allude to the pride of those who retained the slightest hint of wisdom hoping that was once the right way may just give them the power necessary to not suffer as those who are empty.
May the periphery
Of ancient wisdom
For the ones who deny the darkness
The first climax was bombastic as our narrator showed heart by rejecting the movement of the herd. Here our second and final climax is much more subdued as all life has been extinguished and infinite emptiness is all that remains. A melody in triplets presents us the end through it’s dark yet calmer and almost subdued temperament as the secondary melody during the climax returns but not to signal thought but rather the end of thought as humanity could not see the forest for the trees and all that remains are the ashes of our existence being washed away to be forgotten with the only human being the parting growl of our narrator.
The secondary riff from the first climax takes control but changed into triplets and with much more syncopation in the same way that Beethoven’s fifth symphony opening motif immediately takes charge. An outro that perfectly fuses composition with atmosphere. The first step of this journey is reaching it hell and the album will only delve further in from this point on.
A very complicated song musically as there are so many elements that are formed through very few basic ideas that the band managed to extort all the potential from. Various twists and turns that may look simple at first but slowly reveal themselves with many nuances. A tale of maintaining strong beliefs and furthering yourself away from the masses in the hope that when society crumbles even though you will not survive you will be rewarded by the ability to survive what will destroy others. Death metal at its best, combining philosophy with action. Unfortunately there are far too many things that have been left unsaid like the carefully placed vocal patterns and the drumming really creating the atmosphere even though it closely follows and rarely diverts from the riffs. A complete study of this song would take much more time than most humans have. Embrace the eternal beauty left by the defunct Finnish scene.