The Deathtrip survive madness, return original voice on black, devastating ‘Demon Solar Totem’

There are some things even darkness, uncertainty, and chaos cannot stop from coming into fruition. That saying “what’s meant to be will be” is something people may pass off as some sort of philosophical gazing, but it also holds a ton of truth. Something that is meant to materialize will do that no matter the forces that are pushing against it.

“Demon Solar Totem,” the second record from black metal beasts The Deathtrip almost didn’t happen. Maybe, in some other warped timelines, it doesn’t make its way into the world, but in this existence, it’s here, and it’s vile and strange. I could write an entire passage about this record’s volatile journey and the starts and stops the band faced creating this seven-track, 55-minute monster. But why regurgitate that entire thing? All you need to know is guitarist Host started to work on the long-awaited response to their debut “Deep Drone Master,” and as things were getting ready to commit to time, vocalist Aldrahn parted ways with the band. That led to the return of original vocalist Kvohst (formerly of Dødheimsgard and currently of Grave Pleasures and Hexvessel), who commands the album and gives it muscle in a way only he can. Bass was completed by Thomas Eriksen of Mork, and now the album has two label homes for Europe and North America, which it deserves because it is scathing.

The title track rips the top off this thing with ominous riffs cutting through the center, and that eruption leads to things turning delirious. Kvohst’s insane shrieks burst while chants ricochet off the chorus, and clean singing comes in and add more darkness. That leads into a vile passage with ritualistic cries and pummeling madness. “Angel Fossils” have riffs spiraling and growls digging into the nerves. Wails over the chorus segue into a vicious, chilling space that brings about a trancey attack and more chants that end the track. “Enter Spectral Realms” starts with leads glimmering, driving slowly until the gears are shredded. An old school black metal spirit spills into the room and sends chills, while delirious guitars scramble, and weird calls disintegrate into a haze.

“Surrender to a Higher Power” lets guitars heat up and hypnotize, and strange, detached singing is smeared over the chorus. A storming pace collides with the earth while the vocals refuse mercy, and cries of, “Surrender,” destroy. “Vintage Telepathy” is hushed at first before it bathes in slow heaviness, with singing mixing in with the perilous guitar work. “What am I becoming?” Kvohst calls before screaming, “Shadows are falling!” over and over as the song ends in echo. “Abraxas Mirrors” has noise bubbling before it’s torn apart, and maniacal wails crush souls. The pace is unforgiving and bizarre, as the title is screamed over the chorus, and savagery mixes with belts with shrieks. “Awaiting a New Maker” is the 10-minute closer that first hovers before chugging and chewing. Howls and singing blend together as the guitars transfix, with the tempo ramping up and mauling. The track steamrolls as higher vocals rise, a fog infects, and the track submits to a cloud of cavernous noise.

The Deathtrip did whatever they had to do to get “Demon Solar Totem” out into the world, and it thrives and destroys based on the strength it gained by volatility. This is a fitting second chapter in the band’s run, and now having a familiar voice back behind the mic gives them what they need to keep burning into the future. This is a terrifying, massive slab of true black metal, and we’re all better off for this music having survived and found its way into our bloodstreams.

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