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INFERNAL MAJESTY - Nigrescent Years Of Chaos (12" LP w/ 7" EP)

Canada | Thrash
Price Range:   $23.33
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Toronto-based Thrash masters Infernal Majesty, best known for their cult classic debut album "None Shall Defy", have opened their archives and present the world with a re-release of their first three demos, all brought together on one fine vinyl record and aptly titled "Nigrescent Years of Chaos". Vocalist Chris Bailey explains how the idea for choosing this format came about: "It's something I've wanted to do for a number of years but it was a matter of getting our foundation set again and waiting for the right label to collaborate with. Shortly after we officially went public on Facebook announcing a new album was coming, our great friends at Vic Records reached out to us with an idea to release a limited edition compilation CD of our early demos, which was the first time anyone had approached us with the idea. I decided to call it 'Nigrescent Years Of Chaos' because it so accurately describes the dark times that were those early days for us living in Toronto as struggling musicians. A short time ago we were then united with High Roller Records who thought the time would be right to release it on vinyl with new original artwork. Vinyl has always been my favourite format to own music on." The three demos we are talking about here are
"Infernal Majesty" from 1986, "Nigresent Dissolution" from 1988 and "Creation of Chaos", which came out in 1991, and they have by now turned into much sought-after collector's items: "We didn't realize just to what extent that would be the case. So much has been lost over the years to rust, decay and destruction that it's a miracle the music has survived."
The first demo was recorded with the classic Infernal Majesty line up: Chris Bailey (vocals), Steve Terror (guitar), Rick Nemes (drums), Kenny Hallman (guitar) and Psycopath (bass). The 1991 demo, released three years after the debut "None Shall Defy", was recorded with new vocalist Vince who sadly passed away ten years later. Chris returned to his old position for the next album "Unholier Than Thou", but why had Vince replaced him in the first place, and why did Chris return? Chris explains (and adds a few things): "On the second demo Kevin Harris played drums and Bob Quelch on bass. In the book I'm writing I explain in more detail what happened leading up to Vince joining the band but basically things weren't working out with Vince. The guys were recording 'Unholier...' with Scott Burns and it got to the point for what ever reason they stopped recording and decided to get me back. How they found me is a whole other story. I started learning the songs and wrote the lyrics to 'Death Roll', then was rushed into the studio to record my vocals for the album."
And what significance does each of the three demos have for the history of the band? Chris: "The first demo is special to me on so many levels. It was when I
transitioned from wanting to be in a Thrash Metal band to actually being in a Thrash
Metal band. I didn't expect at the time to be singing for that same band thirty years
later, Lol! But it's been a journey to say the least. With the second demo Steve, Ken and I were picking up the pieces left by the departure of Psyco and Rick. The third demo was what led to 'Unholier Than Thou'."
It's a long time ago, but Chris still remembers quite well where and under what (great) conditions the demos were recorded: "We recorded at Metal Works in Missasaugga, Ontario. It doesn't get much better than that. To see the mechanics behind an album being made for the first time was an eye-opening experience. We got to take a tour of the Triumph wharehouse where they stored the different sets from past tours. We were the first and possibly only Thash Metal band to record there. The recording engineers were seriously into the songs."
In between demo No.1 and 2, Infernal Majesty released their debut album "None Shall Defy" (1987). Had their approach to writing and recording music changed after the release of the first proper record? Chris: "It did. Our approach has changed on every album since the debut. As the music was changing we were changing. When the time came to start writing 'No God' for example we thought about this a lot, so we decided to approach the songs remembering our roots. Sometimes, to see were you are going you have to look back from where you came."
Now which of the songs contained on the three demos later turned out to be really
groundbreaking for Infernal Majesty and their development as a band? Chris' answer is not too surprising: "I would have to say the first demo. Those songs set the foundation for us. 'Into The Unknown' became another song that raised a lot of attention. We still get requests for the tabs. The songs from the third demo on the new vinyl compilation later became the songs that appear on 'Unholier Than Thou' which will be coming out on CD with Vic Records soon and on vinyl with High Roller Records." So with the debut already out, why did Infernal Majesty go on recording demos? Why did they not simply record another album right away? Chris explains: "It was like trying to restart a dying engine over and over and over. We had so many things collapsing all around us at once after the debut. We kept trying to pick up the pieces. We couldn't afford at the time to record a full album and we needed a label to cover the costs but we didn't want to sign the same kind of deal like we did with the debut. After 'None Shall Defy' came out and Rick and Psyco split we unconsciously took the band back underground."
Many bands get chided for simply re-releasing their early stuff, but people seem to have a different opinion when it comes to Infernal Majesty. One reviewer said this release was extremely relevant especially for those people who "where there
when classic albums like Hell Awaits, Darkness Descends and the highly
underrated None Shall Defy of Infernal Majesty was (originally) released (...)
when thrash metal was at its darkest." When Chris reads this he feels: "Grateful... it's from the heart. I also look at the big picture and being a history buff I think it's also relevant to the history of Thrash Metal. It's important for our younger generations who may be discovering metal for the first time to have an understanding how the early evolution of the different genres evolved into what we are listening to today." As a means to this end, the compilation contains the songs of the three demos, together with a booklet containing rare pictures and some new liner notes by Chris himself, and of course, as mentioned before, with a new original artwork: "It's really for our hardcore fans", says Chris. The artwork is also the main thing where the CD version by Vic Records and the High Roller vinyl release differ: "We were blown away when we saw it. At the same time a wave of memories flashed back through my mind. Back to a time when vinyl was king." The cover artwork is reminiscent of the first demo's artwork, only bigger and more detailed: "It was created by the great Alexander von Wieding. I'm not sure what ever happened to Fred Fiveash, the artist who created the cover for 'None Shall Defy', which is sad because I doubt he ever new what that cover means to many of us."

Ulrike Schmitz

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