Label: Invictus Productions
Release date: 29.11.2019
The mastermind behind Flamekeeper is Marco S, of Demonomancy fame. If you’re new to Demonomancy, then here’s a quick refresher. They’re a black/death metal band from Italy whose peers include Archgoat, Blasphemy and several NWN! Prod similar sounding bands (Nuclear War Now!). They’ve been around for slightly over a decade. My best guess as to how Flamekeeper was born would be that Marco wanted to channel his other creative energies beyond the ferocious Demonomancy sound. Being a multi-instrumentalist in this regard, definitely helps. Flamekeeper is thoroughly a solo effort where Marco plays all instruments and handles vocal duties. Musically, the project is influenced by thrash, black metal and 90s era Bathory.
‘We Who Light The Fire’ is an EP with six tracks which also includes a cover of a Necromantia song. The EP opens up with an intro track titled ‘The Birth of a Tribe’ which comprises of a strong buildup with the blowing of horns, very viking-folk like chants and all in all sounding very triumphant. About two minutes in, the second track starts playing and that wastes no further time in showcasing what Flamekeeper is truly about. In my opinion, it is in this second track, ‘Nomads of the World Beyond’, that the EP peaks at its highest. It is quite the perfect track which captures everything that an old school metal fan will salivate to. The vocals are gruff, almost marrying the delivery and tone of Cronos (Venom) and 90’s Quorthon (Bathory). Musically, I would compare it closely to blackened thrash, in the vein of Deströyer 666. What makes Flamekeeper stand out from the aforementioned comparisons, are the short acoustic sections within the song and the vocal harmonies, both of which occur multiple times throughout the EP.
Even though I mentioned that the EP peaks with the second track, the rest of the tracks are worth listening to. In `Until This Earth Takes Me`, Marco challenges himself vocally to be a bit more diverse and the catchy anthemic chorus will draw you into liking the song. The title track `We Who Light the Fire` creates a strong viking/folk vibe with the guitar work. There also seems to be an undercurrent of melancholy during the chorus. ‘Dead Sea Waters`, the last originally composed track, was a bit disappointing though wherein I felt Marco was playing around with similar ideas from the previous tracks, yet not delivering quite strongly as the title track or ‘Nomads of the World Beyond’. But that said, I think the decision to cover Necromantia’s ‘Ancient Pride’ was a good one. While the original has more variety in instrumentation such as flutes and has this rustic sound, Flamekeeper gives the song much needed heaviness. The choice to cover a legendary Hellenic black metal band’s song will attract criticism but luckily the cover is a good homage to the original. Stylistically, the song fits in with the EP’s overall sound.
Flamekeeper’s EP is being released on Invictus Productions, the same label behind Demonomancy. I’d say that the label has put in a lot of faith in Marco and suffice to say, Flamekeeper have definitely delivered the goods. The EP is well produced and it leaves us wanting for more. I personally wish this wasn’t an EP but a debut full length. If I were to be critical on where this EP falls short, then I’d say I wished there was more experimentation with the sound. On repeated listens, I find myself wanting to listen to only the two tracks (out of the four original songs) that I enjoy a lot. Marco does try to create this definitive sound for Flamekeeper but I feel that with future releases, it might get lost with time where ideas are either repeated or recycled. I hope to be proven wrong.
The overall aesthetic behind Flamekeeper is very old school and traditional – from the song titles, the sound, the promotional photoshoots. It’s something I support wholeheartedly. In my opinion, this EP would probably not be understood/appreciated by metal fans who lean more towards the modern, cleaner variants of the genre. But at the risk of sounding punny, Marco is indeed keeping this flame alive with this side project of his, albeit flickering in the gentle breeze. I’d imagine Quorthon raising his two thumbs if he were alive to listen to this!
Marco S (all instruments)
- The Birth of a Tribe
- Nomads of the World Beyond
- Until This Earth Takes Me
- We Who Lights the Fire
- Dead Sea Waters
- Ancient Pride (Necromantia cover)