Zifir - Demoniac Ethics [Duplicate Records - 2020]Demoniac Ethics is the fourth full-length release by Zifir, a black metal trio based in Istanbul, Turkey. The album has been physically released on vinyl and compact disc by the Norwegian underground label Duplicate Records. Duplicate Records is home to perhaps one of my all-time favorite records (Virus’ Oblivion Clock), so I’m always curious to check out what new releases they have in store. This is the second album by Zifir on said label. I remember having heard the previous one on the label’s Bandcamp page, a record which I enjoyed a lot. If my disastrous memory allows me to recall that listening session correctly. Here’s hoping it does.
The album starts with the short intro that is "Sûr". Droning guitars fade in and out; evocative chants and a more tormented, echoing vocal delivery are all cramped neatly within the intro’s short lifespan. It’s epic and has a strong eastern (anti)religious vibe, and works well all together.
On to "Chants For Execution". It immediately starts with a very epic, bigger-than-life tremolo riff, which in combination with the drummer’s superb blast beats reminds me a lot of that other highly enthusiastic sounding entity, Bölzer. I really dig the vocal work as well. The singer leans toward the black metal rasp, but keeps it fairly clean and understandable. There’s more chanting going on on this track as well, and that’s an element that is well incorporated within their sound. The track goes grimly forward; it’s epic; it’s fast; it’s versatile. Big thumbs up.
The next track is "Still Reigning". The guitars sound a lot sadder, the initial vocals very reminiscent of what Carl-Michael Eide comes up with for his band Virus. The tone of this track is very sanctimonious, mainly because of the vocal approach and the distraught guitar work. Again, very strong songwriting; the track keeps switching it up without ever sounding forced, keeping everything interesting and fluent. Kudos for the production on this one as well; this track is so full of sound that it’s hard to believe the band is but a trio.
"Empire Of Worms". Very epic (sure you guessed today’s keyword by now…) sounding track, balancing between the tremolo/blast beat energy of the first track and the more open notes of Still Reigning. Very good build-ups, nice intervals, new and small sounds that prevent a track leaning heavily on repetition from ever becoming boring.
"Gökyüzü Karanlik" is up next. This track could be looked upon as an intermezzo. It has those (already) familiar-sounding droning guitars in distress, backed up by sanctimonious declaiming from the singer. The band certainly uses religious motives to spread their anti-religious message.
"An Eerie Moment" is basically another intermezzo, maintaining the vibe of the previous one, but executed in an entirely different manner. Aside from the guitars and vocals, there is a prominent role for the bass guitar’s plucking in this track. It’s a short intermezzo, but it’s a slice of very accomplished avant-garde black metal. Here I found myself thinking that it’s only fitting that an album like this has been released on a Norwegian label with a tendency to release avant-garde black metal. They sort of fit the profile perfectly.
These short tracks are followed by "Chaos Clouds". On this track, I like the pared-back drumming. Slowly but steadily the doomsday band marches on, amidst the whirling chaos and frenzy. Not the most memorable track of the album, but good nonetheless.
"Spirit Of Goats" hits home much harder than the previous track. It’s very energetic with some nice tremolo riffs and has the drummer showing off his versatility as well. The band pulls a lot of tricks out of its hat on this track, but again, they manage to make the whole thing sound coherent, never forced. A very strong feat.
Next, we have "A Bleak Portrait" The tremolo riffing in the song is spot-on, even reminding me of some of the stronger DSBM bands. I am again quite impressed with how much this band can get away with; since these bleaker, sadder guitars flow into the more energetic, epic character of the song almost unnoticed. There’s backward chanting, serpent’s tongue-like whispers, guitar laments, operatic moments,…all jammed within the devil’s backpack whilst still having space enough to breathe.
"Into Ephemeral Idols" is a very straightforward track, reminding me a lot of Darkthrone’s work ethic (although completely different in sound): minimal amount of riffs, nothing fancy, just good old black ‘n’ roll. Towards the end, though, the song mutates in another very lamentable and theatrical direction.
The album closes shop with "Insects As Messengers". The Bölzer is strong in this one. Very epic sounding guitars, a nice unison of various sounds. The vocals are very reminiscent of Bölzer as well, they kind of follow the same pace and keep a nice balance between aggression and clarity. A more mid-paced track, with the right amount of bombast to serve as a nice summary of all that we’ve heard up to this point.
I listened to Demoniac Ethics with great pleasure. It’s obvious this is a band in control of their sound and style. They have managed to keep things interesting throughout the whole album; mainly by keeping their song-structures fresh and versatile, incorporating (without forcing things) a wide variety of sounds and influences, changing the pace and tone of the album at the right times. If I could use just one adjective to describe this album, I would have to write “epic”. Very recommendable.Damien De Coene