The Propaganda Machine

Black Lion
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Fear Campaign
02. Monolith Of Hate
03. The Propaganda Machine
04. The Art Of Disinformation
05. Screams Of Those Dying
06. The Great Dictator
07. The Anti-National
08. Crushing The Iron Fist

Nobody has done more for India's still-developing metal scene than Sahil Makhija, a.k.a. The Demonstealer. Best known for the consistently great albums he released as a member of DEMONIC RESURRECTION, but also for releases with REPTILIAN DEATH and several other worthy projects, he arguably deserves more credit for the quality of his work, rather than being continually congratulated for being a standard bearer for his native country. When Sahil makes music, it always has a meticulous, crafted feel to it, and that remains true here. "The Propaganda Machine" is a manifestly superior piece of work, hewn from epic, pompous tech-death and symphonic black metal, and delivered with ferocious precision and big, bold sonic textures.

Opener "The Fear Campaign" slams down the DEMONSTEALER formula, circa 2023. This is effectively Sahil's solo project, and as a noted multi-instrumentalist he probably doesn't need to invite guests onto his records. But when the guests are musicians of the caliber of drummers Hannes Grossmann (TRIPTYKON / ALKALOID / ex-NECROPHAGIST),Ken Bedene (ABORTED) and Sebastian Lanser (OBSIDIOUS / PANZERBALLETT),you can kind of understand his open-door policy. The drumming on "The Propaganda Machine" is all spectacular, with James Paynev (KATAKLYSM) completing a quartet of extraordinary virtuosos. Other parts are provided by an impressive array of bassists and lead guitarists, and there is a strong sense that all are partly paying homage to a criminally unsung modern metal hero.

None of this would matter if the songs sucked, of course. DEMONSTEALER has evolved as a project and become more a repository for Sahil's more adventurous ideas. At their core, songs like "Monolith Of Hate" and "Screams Of Those Dying" are comparatively straightforward blackened death metal tunes, but where previous records tended towards the myopic, these are more intricate and progressive, even at full pelt. The vocal melodies on "Monolith Of Hate", woven into a constant battery of kicks and spiraling keyboard licks, are particularly effective. "The Art Of Disinformation" hinges on a magnificent, mid-paced melo-death riff, but blooms into an unexpectedly huge and uplifting chorus, before spinning away at light speed and in snarling beast mode. "The Great Dictator" is even faster, and comes with another gorgeous, quasi-futuristic vocal melody; "The Anti-National" opts for brutal thrash and righteous, real-world rage. When death metal directness is called for, DEMONSTEALER answer immediately. The title track is a flawless, tightly structured, three-minute burst of violence, with an eerie, tripped-out vocal hook, while "Crushing The Iron Fist" is a skin-scorching, rebellious blaze, with echoes of THE CROWN's hell-for-leather savagery, but somehow blended seamlessly with symphonic and progressive death metal at its most intense. It's a blistering and deeply satisfying conclusion to an album that proclaims its author's greatness from the rooftops. Respect very much overdue.

Author: Dom Lawson
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