Year of Release: 2010
Record Label: Century Media/EMI
Recommended for fans of: Porcupine Tree and Anathema.
1. Swing of The Airwaves
2. Feel Alive
4. Black Over Gold
7. Rainbow Ruse
8. Hesitation Waltz
9. Falling from the Sun
Demians is a one man band.
Yes, that’s right, one dude, does everything, goes by the name of Nicolas Chapel.
Here he is:
This guy is like Steven Wilson, a genius capable of crafting the most intense beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.
Chapel released Demians debut album ‘Building an Empire’ back in 2008, an album that for reasons I’d rather not divulge here makes it a very personal experience for me to listen to these days. I was lucky enough to see Demians live the very same year supporting Anathema, and was not disappointed, Chapel having called on session musicians to help him on the tour.
When I heard that another album was in the works, I was very excited about this and waited patiently for its release.
…and so in 2010 we have ‘Mute’. Nice album artwork by the way, loving the font!
Despite the title of the album suggesting this is going to be a quiet ‘muted’ affair, all preconception goes out of the window the minute ‘Swing of the Airwaves’ starts, it kind of reminds me of the start of The Incident with the dissident chords being thrashed, the only difference being the amount of ambience that Chapel creates is greater.
My first thought upon hearing this track was: ‘Wow, sounds so much more aggressive then the debut, and in a good way’ – I do adore the debut, but the whole point of progressive music is to evolve and Demians have certainly done that. The tune is a great album opener and I especially love how the chorus creates a brilliant intense atmosphere.
The 2nd track ‘Feel Alive’ keeps things further ‘unmuted’ with a roaring guitar riff and some excellent drumming. One point I’d love to emphasise at this point is the fact that Nicolas Chapel plays EVERYTHING on the album – you’d be hard pressed to pick up on this unless you were told. The production and skills of Chapel are extremely noticeable. This track has lots of layers and I especially like the hard hitting parts were Chapel screams, it fits the track perfectly and is not harsh as to grate like the vocals in some death metal songs.
The flow of the album slows down for the next track ‘Porcelain’, it opens with some nice keyboard and guitar parts before Chapel adds some of his soothing vocals to the mix. The song builds up quite slowly before a quiet middle 8 section which then leads into the outro. I especially like the vocal section at the end which is sung off pace. The vocal harmonies are also quite beautiful!
‘Black Over Gold’ is an emotional piano driven piece that again like a lot of Chapels songs builds up and comes to a giant crescendo, out of all the pieces on this album it does sound like something that would have fitted on the debut, well that’s the link I made!
‘Overhead’ is one of my favourites on the album, an excellent sounding acoustic guitar opens up the proceedings [or it could be an electric with amp modelling/POD effects?!] and then joined by STRINGS! If you’ve read previous reviews by me, you’ll know how much I love the addition of strings in rock songs. The outro section features some bonus riffing and the chord progression in general is a delight to the ears!
‘Tidal’ opens up with what I’d hesitantly call an ‘Indie’ sounding riff but quickly becomes something so much more satisfying. It’s the shortest track on the album and defiantly knows it’s the straight out rocker, it would be awesome it this track got as much radio play as possible, as it would certainly make me curious if I was uninformed.
The next track is the highlight of the album for me in the form of ‘Rainbow Ruse’ – one of the strongest tracks to have come from the mind of Chapel. It’s driven by a strong piano line which is quickly joined by awesome sounding guitars. This is also the highlight track for me for Chapels vocals, I just love the way they sound, so much passion and emotion has been put into this song! I could write all day about this track, but I’ll spare you the indulgence, go and listen to it!
‘Hesitation Waltz’ follows; I love the title of this song, very clever. Chapel makes interesting use of drums at the start, almost tribal sounding they are joined by a dark guitar riff and curious sounding vocals. The atmosphere this creates is one of immense introversion! This builds up into a wonderful heavy shoegazing soundscape; very different from anything on the debut, loving it!
The album closes with ‘Falling from the Sun’ which at least to my ears sounds heavily influenced by No-Man, I almost expect Tim Bowness to start singing after the first couple of bars. This is a compliment though as No-Man have written some of the most beautiful, emotional songs I’ve ever heard. This song is no exception, considering the overall heaviness of the album; this is a complete contrast and a good choice as an end piece! It also has strings!
They say the 2nd album is pretty important, and can sometimes be ‘the difficult one’, I think that Chapel can hold his head high though as it sounds like it wasn’t too much of a struggle for him to compose this sophomore effort!
I would certainly hope to see Chapel get a band together and tour with this material, tracks like ‘Rainbow Ruse’ and ‘Swing of the Airwaves’ would go down a real treat at a live venue.
‘Mute’ is a fine effort and going by the noticeable evolution so far, I’d say the third album will be very interesting indeed.
Nicolas Chapel / all instruments