Grand Demise of Civilization
Below the Foot of Kings

With autumn upon us and the seasons starting to turn colder this review is a bit ironic for this reviewer in that if fills me with so much joy to review another insanely talented band from Minnesota for your ears to discover.

Formed in 2008, Grand Demise of Civilization is a meticulously layered Black Death metal band from Minnesota. Grand Demise of Civilization was started by founding guitarist/vocalist Jason Notebaart who I had known previously from the band Necromis.  Notebaart and other former Necromis members released a first album back in 2009 called Black Goat Apocalypse.  Fast forward ten years and Notebaart is rejoined by former Necromis member Dan Lerach on second guitar.  Also adding veteran Shawn Jensen on bass and lead vocal duties (Formerly of Horror, Neurotoxin, Hot Karl, Anal Blast) and then furthering out the roster by adding Patrick Ruhland on drums (Formerly of Ambassador Gun, Australis, The Body Beneath).  With the correct lineup in place Below the Foot of Kings was released earlier this year and man if you have not heard this yet you are in for a treat.  Tis the season.

On to Below the Foot of Kings which is an absolutely massive album (six tracks, 58 minutes).  “Nostrigoi” is an outstanding opener and wastes no time in beginning to pummel the listener with intense blast beat patterns over some unique chord dissonant, yet melodic chord phrasing.  I love that they play eight string guitars but it does not necessarily feel or sound like that throughout the album with the way they construct riffs together. Also it should be noted that there is no “lead vocalist” but rather the two guitarists and bassist alternate and work in conjunction.  It is a unique sound that I have a difficult time comparing them to.  The vocal layering is also very unique in having three different vocalists going on throughout the record.  Shawn Jensen’s voice is perfect for this style shifting from incredibly abrasive shrieks to guttural lows that could potentially suck the soul out of your body.  Pat Ruhland’s drum work ties everything in together and it is fun for me to listen to him on this having been in a few projects with him in the past.  He is one of the sickest drummers in Minnesota and it is refreshing to hear him playing this style of metal.

There is a considerable amount of traditional black metal influence throughout the album but on the flip side to that coin there are also very technical death metal like influences.  The second track “Path” is another fantastic example of layering and feel throughout the song.  Notebaart and Lerach’s contrasting riffs going back and forth between grinded barre chords and unique octave tapping really demonstrate the group’s technical and also melodic ability.  “The Trough” has an excellent fade in and build as do all of the six songs on the album.  Grand Demise do a fantastic job of keeping things interesting while having gigantic song arrangements.  “Sinless Soul” is probably my favorite track as it has a bit a dissonant beginning akin to one of my favorite Norwegian bands Dodheimsgard.  The dissonant arpeggiated phrasing then gets complemented by pummeling blasts that really make the song pop.

In Minnesota, we are fortunate to have groups like Grand Demise of Civilization. They are unique veterans of underground metal and have put together a 58 minute genius of an album. The ambiance on this record is really in its own realm and makes this a candidate for album of the year.  If you are looking for something different within the realm of extreme metal that checks off all of the boxes then this is for you.  Highly recommended.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick K
December 4th, 2019


  1. Commented by: Christopher Stokes

    I gave this a listen based on this review. This album absolutely fucking rips.

  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Getting a bit of a Council of the Fallen vibe from this….

  3. Commented by: Christopher Stokes

    I love Council of the Fallen! I think I discovered them through you.

  4. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Chris, you might check out Immanifest- symphonic black death metal with a couple of ex-COTF dudes

  5. Commented by: Christopher Stokes

    I checked out (and am checking out) their most recent. Some good stuff there for sure!

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