Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground extreme metal. Whether they’re death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, -core, heavy, speed, punk-, stoner, etc., we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. Demo:listen returns this week with news of a twisted new death metal band out of California calling themselves Calcemia.
Calcemia formed as a two-piece as many years ago, but has since grown into a full-fledged five-member force of amplified death worship. Almost as if some body-snatching Outsider infiltrated the Los Angeles underground death metal scene, the four musicians present on The Unburning Flame, Calcemia’s debut recording, despite their eclectic backgrounds/current endeavors, display a remarkable homogeneity in writing and executing totally alien death metal. Not so much a breath of fresh air, The Unburning Flame is a huge hit of mutant carcinogens.
“Devlin [Baldwin] and I started the band around November 2015,” says Jake Himelfarb, guitarist and supporting vocalist of Calcemia. “It was originally meant to be a studio two-piece with [Baldwin] on drums/guitars and me on bass/guitars/vocals. We wrote our first songs with him on guitar and me on bass. These tunes are ‘De Humani Corpois Fabrica,’ and ‘Tower of Silence,’ which is also why they’re the tracks where Devlin plays guitars. We’ve all known each other for a long time. I’ve known all four of the other guys since I was in high school.”
Himelfarb elaborates: “Jon [Cronin, bassist] and Yuri [Kondra, lead vocalist] have a black-doom metal band called Ancestral Awakening. Yuri is also in our buddies’ band, Skulls, which is death/doom similar to Rippikoulu and Cianide. Devlin is in a hardcore punk band called Short Temper; that shit’s lit! Finally, after recording this EP, we recruited a second guitarist to our ranks named Alec. He has a tech death project with Yuri called Cruelty Exalted.”
“Since Jake and I had started playing in our first band together in high school, we always clicked musically,” Baldwin says. This energy can be felt as well as it can be heard in every note of The Unburning Flame.
“Devlin & I were in a band called Krokodil prior to Calcemia. This band is more or less a continuation of Krokodil. It was a three piece with me on vocals/guitars, Devlin on drums, and our good friend Aaron on bass. We have one song on Bandcamp.”
Baldwin continues: “After that band split, I was playing in a few different projects, including playing drums in Jonny and Yuri’s band Ancestral Awakening and another sludge/grind band with Yuri called Erode. While it was all enjoyable, I missed playing weirdo death metal with Jake. In late 2015, we decided to start this band. Getting our good friends in on playing with us happened really quickly and easily. Jonny learned a song and a half during our first jam and Yuri, being the vocal monster he is, hopped right in shortly after. Alec recently joined on second guitar after living abroad in Denmark, and we are now starting to play live regularly.”
Such information may shed some light on the preternatural techniques employed in these bizarre hyperspeed dirges, but how does one explain away the very nature of this instantaneous artifact? Rest assured, wary listener, Calcemia’s demo is death metal. But it’s death metal in the way that later Death and Timeghoul were death metal—Pestilence, too, come to mind. Calcemia are protean, ambitious, and clever in ways that most modern death metal bands would never dream of being. This is what happens when the kids’ abilities catch up to their overactive imaginations, and it is truly some next-level skulcrushery.
“I could talk about bands that I love for HOURS,” Himelfarb confesses. “My own riffs are mainly influenced by bands like Demilich, Voivod, Morbid Angel, Creepmime, Candlemass, Phlebotomized, Bolt Thrower, Pestilence, Disincarnate, Cynic, Adramelech, Obliveon, Brutality, Autopsy, Magma, and more. I’ve always gravitated towards bands that were equally as extreme as they were twisted. Odd rhythms and dissonance are nothing less than an addiction.
“Production-wise, I really like demos and EP’s like [Timeghoul’s] Tumultuous Travelings, [Adramelech’s] The Fall, [Convulse’s] Resuscitation of Evilness, [Depravity’s] Silence of the Centuries, [Demigod’s] Unholy Domain, [Phlebotomized’s] Preach Eternal Gospels, [Morgion’s] Travesty, etc… Stuff that’s really FILTHY but at the same time clear.”
The Unburning Flame was brought into existence with the help of one Erol Ulog, guitarist of Teeth.
“We wanted Calcemia to go with him because we were really impressed with how the recordings for his band sounded,”Himelfarb explains. “Everything is super audible; nothing is too loud, but nothing’s too quiet, either. These are qualities that are necessary for our style . . . We started tracking in February; first came drums, then reamping, then vocals, and so on. All the guitars and vocals were tracked at our own homes, but the guitar reamping took place at Bright Lights. After that, mixing started in September . . . The fourth track on this record, ‘Passage to the Unburning Flame,’ is an acoustic guitar interlude piece by Adam Heller (The Deep Silence). We also have two guest vocal features: one by Dustin James (Church of Disgust, Imprecation) on ‘Descent into Suffering,’ and one by Dave Muntean (Nucleus) on ‘Ingvar’s Lament.’”
Baldwin adds: “The process at Bright Lights with Rollie was an absolute honor. One of the funniest and most patient dudes to work with. Hit him up for all of your sonic needs. Teeth rules!”
One of the best parts about Calcemia, besides the extra-terrestrial algorithms embedded in their riffs, the radioactive bass playing like boils forming and bursting on your flesh, and the alien-surgically precise drums, are undoubtedly the lyrics and the monstrous voice which growls life into them.
“So far, the task of composing vocal parts and lyrics has been solely mine,” says Yuri Kondra. “Since I’m a lead vocalist who isn’t burdened by having to play an instrument simultaneously, I strive to put in as much depth and substance to the vocal parts as possible. The lyrics to each of the songs revolve around the concept of death. More specifically; what happens to the body and spirit after death occurs. I am fascinated by the history and beliefs of ancient people, so I decided to seek inspiration for this record from various ancient and medieval texts from different parts of the world.”
When you’re rolling with a demo as potent as this six track warhead, you’ve practically got your pick of labels. It makes sense, in a way, that Canada’s predominantly black metal label Les Fleur Du Mal would release Calcemia’s demo, but only after the initial surprise you experience. And after you’ve considered it for a moment and convinced yourself that it somehow makes sense. But, as Himelfarb points out, LFDM introduced us all to Cosmic Void Ritual, as well as those deep-down death/doomers Shezmu.
“We made a list of all the current underground labels we’ve seen releasing cool new music and went from there,” explains Baldwin. “LFDM gave us a solid offer, so thanks, Simon! We’ll have shirts available soon that you can get directly from us, as well.”
“We’re already working on new material that incorporates our true two guitar lineup,” according to the band. “Plus, we plan on doing some more shows and hope to tour in the near future. We hope that you enjoy this record, and thanks to all who have supported us through the process!”
Pick up a copy of The Unburning Flame from LFDM to secure your ownership of a future relic. Wherever they go from here, Calcemia’s demo will remain a piece of singular American death metal.