Exorcised is a relatively new Serbian act, fresh out of the grinder, which pursues a commitment to the death metal ideals of the later 80s through early 90s. As such, the focus is on simplistic riffing progressions and a tinge of the doom and thrash inherent to several of their influences like Asphyx, (old) Pestilence and Autopsy, and to this they add a truly grisly production value which honestly hinges on being a pure rehearsal demo. The guitars are incredibly crunchy and raw, the vocals ominous and massive, the drums very tinny due to the cymbal crashing, and the bass low, lumbering along in step with the various old school tremolo lines (circa Death) and thrash/chug sequences. And yet, I have to hand it to them: whilst nothing here is remotely unique, the trio has some heart to it.
Granted, like any of these retrospective death metal bands emerging in the past decade, they've got a lot of familiarity to their riffs, derivations from a vast legacy (now going on about 25 years) of bands who once tread or are now retreading the same graveyard dirt. These four tracks are all tombs whose gates lie wide open, the dust of human decay whorled about their stone edifices and the restless spirits within having long moved on. But Exorcised sound like a group of guys who are having genuinely fun living out their inspirations, and there is plenty of variation on the 20 minutes of this demo to keep the more nostalgic advocate of brutality on the edge of his or her seat. Dour, death/thrash breakdowns, well constructed leads ("Oppressed by Unreal"), varied pacing which often devolves into malevolent death/doom (on the title track) and a knack for faster paced guitar hooks that, despite their lack of nuance, really sink in.
For instance, the lick that accelerates after the groove in "Unholy Awakening" around 2:20 might sound like you've heard it a hundred times, but the style never fails to be effective and I found myself headbanging along. Reflections of Horror is simply littered with such moments, and thus it overcomes the work cut out for it and entertains. It will be interesting to hear how the band sounds with a better production, since the only atmosphere really generated here comes through the very live sound, but the complaints are few. Perhaps the leads could be tweaked a little louder so the details would become more clear, and it wouldn't kill Exorcised (or any other band in this field) to be a little more creative in the riff construction, or to vary up the vocals mildly more than they already are. But for a first attempt this is a decent demo with an legitimate streak to it that should be interesting to hear develop into as the band continues along. Enthusiasts of antiquated evil take notice.
Verdict: Win [7/10]