I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
HAIDUK - "Demonicon"
Genre: Melodic Death/Black Metal
9 Tracks / Run time: 32:15
Label/release date: Self-released, 2015
It was a bone-chillingly cold and frosty winter's morn when I sat down to check out the latest submissions to my review pile - which turned out to be very appropriate in the case of Demonicon, a self-released disc from the Canadian black/death metal project Haiduk. I'd never heard Haiduk's music before, but I was somewhat familiar with the name, due to their frequent self-promotion on a number of metal forums and message boards that I hang out on. As it turns out, the "band" actually consists of one guy - Luka Milojica, who performs all the instruments and vocals on this disc. He's been kickin' out Haiduk's deathly jams since 2010, when he first burst forth from the abyss (aka Calgary, Alberta) with his debut demo, Plagueswept. A full length album, Spellbook, followed in 2012, and Demonicon was released in 2015. Haiduk's Bandcamp page describes Demonicon as "spells of demonic strength...from the infernal depths" and "a blackened tome of blasting destruction," which sure sounds like fun for the whole family!
Haiduk - "Syth"
So what the heck is a "Haiduk" anyway?
A quick visit to my good friend, Dr. Wik E. Pedia, tells me that "Haiduk" (also spelled "Hajduk," apparently) is a Balkan term for a group of Central European guerrilla fighters and bandits who battled against the Ottoman Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries. I have no idea if any of the songs on Demonicon make any reference to those historical events at all, since I can't make heads or tails out of the lyrics and the songs all have random, evil-sounding one-word titles like "Syth," "Sarxas," and "Corloch," which sound like they may have been plucked from the works of Tolkien (or maybe H.P. Lovecraft).
In fact, when Haiduk/Luka e-mailed me this album for review, I made sure to let him know ahead of time that death/black metal was not really my "thing," and therefore I may not be the most qualified guy to review his record. He seemed fine with that, though, so therefore I shall try my best to give Demonicon a balanced write-up. Shoot, I figure if Haiduk is cool enough to send his music to a guy who usually writes about bands like Cinderella and KISS, then I can at least give him a couple of open minded listens. Those of you who are more familiar with the black/death metal genres can feel free to take my mostly-uninformed comments that are sure to follow with a grain of salt, since I have very little experience with this style of music. With that in mind, let's press "play" and see what this nine-track pack of extreme audio nastiness is all about, then!
Haiduk - "Nergion"
First, I gotta give some props to the totally bitchin' album cover on Demonicon, which depicts a gaggle of horned, toothy, bat-winged critters similar to the covers of Morbid Angel's classic Altars of Madness and Slayer's Divine Intervention. This picture would look utterly bad-ass on a t-shirt or a patch.
The disc gets right down to business with the opening track "Syth," a hyperactive throwdown of twisty high-speed guitar riffage and guttural vocals straight from the depths of Hell itself. In other words, it's pretty much what I expected to hear. There are no artsy between-song soundscapes or pretentious spooky intros on Demonicon; Haiduk is from the old school, letting the music do the talking (and pummeling). I'm impressed with Miljoica's skills as a multi-instrumentalist; I am always amazed by people who can play more than one instrument (and play them well) because I can barely tune in a radio station on my car stereo without help. I can definitely appreciate the man's knack for putting together walls of bad-ass Morbid Angel style guitar riffery, as heard on tracks like "Corloch" and "Vordus."
I don't have a lyric sheet, therefore I have no idea what "Nazon," "Xhadex," or "Azyr" could possibly be about, but it's probably a safe bet that Luka is not singing about sunshine, rainbows, and cute little bunnies. Haiduk keeps things short, sweet and to the point on Demonicon - the longest song clocks in just under five minutes and the whole album blows by in slightly over half an hour, which is probably just the right amount for this style of music. (Note to not only black/death metal musicians, but musos in general: just because you can fit 80 minutes of music on a CD, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Just sayin'.)
Summing it up...
I may not be the target audience that Haiduk is aimed at, but I found Demonicon to be an interesting change of pace for me all the same. I didn't run out to join the local Goats' Head Lodge Local #666 or climb on my rooftop to blow a horn in praise of the Ancient Ones, but I didn't feel like I'd been musically tortured by the material on Demonicon, either. Haiduk/Luka is a band/man who obviously has a clear musical vision, and on Demonicon his skill and dedication to his craft shows through most admirably. That's probably the highest praise this totally non-death, completely un-black metal poser can give this album.
You can find Haiduk on Bandcamp, and they also have a page on Facebook and a YouTube channel so you can' check'em out for yourself. If you order a Demonicon CD or t-shirt, tell 'em FatFreddysCat sent you!
Plagueswept - demo, 2010
Spellbook - self-released, 2012
Demonicon - self-released, 2015
© 2018 Keith Abt