Sodom Made Me Appreciate Demo Releases.

( When I first started to frequent online heavy metal communities, one of the things that was constantly praised or focused on was the band demo. Now, I tend to focus on full-length releases and sometimes live albums, but demos were something I was never particularly big on. I won’t say I’m not a fan of them but demos have always been something I got around to checking out.

The Appeal of Demos

Early in my time in communities, I used to wonder why everyone fixated on the demos. These were the band at their rawest in recorded form. They’re going through members, moving members around, trying different sounds and approaches—there’s a lot of building during the demo phase. The band must get the infrastructure in place for the EP and split phase.

On that note, it’s important to mention that not every band goes through a demo phase. Many have the band members they’re going with and drop an EP. Some bands that feature established musicians from other bands might go right into an EP, a single, or even a full-length album. After all, these are musicians who have been around for a decade or two—if not more—dropping an EP is just courtesy. That band could debut with a full-length album and listeners will give it a listen.

Going back to demos, you’re hearing the band in their original form and for someone who digs history, that’s actually awesome. We don’t always get a band’s origins and these older demos had to make the rounds among traders and fan clubs at the time. Now, a modern band’s demos might be easier to find, and some bands include them in some sort of compilation or as bonus tracks on full-lengths.

On sites like Hell’s Headbangers or Bandcamp, you can find band demos easily and purchase them. Of course, looking on Spotify or Apple Music will turn up mixed results for your demo hunts. No, for the period I joined in on metal discussion, the method was via filesharing by someone who had the demo you were seeking.

Sodom Heavy Metal Band - Made Me - 2023 - Demo1

Why I Never Really Cared for Demos

The main reason I didn’t pursue demos at the time was the quality of the recording for the bands I wanted. I didn’t have a concept of a band being in their original form or their purest form—I didn’t care. Usually when I discovered a new band it was off their most recent release. If I dig them, I’ll go back and listen to their full-length releases from the start. This is the same approach with bands I discover via research or “Similar Artists” on music streaming services.

So, the quality of 70s into the early 90s demos—wasn’t a fan at all. That wasn’t all demos either but a lot of them just weren’t doing it for me. Demos were always recommended along with full-length albums and I always went with the full-lengths. Studio quality has always been preferred even though there are some studio recordings that sound dreadful and make you think “The band should’ve gotten the money they paid for studio time back.”

I’m not even going to say that it’s rare. Sometimes, the studio production just ain’t it on a band’s full-length release. On some occasions, the demo sounded better or the assortment of songs was better on the demo or an EP and the band’s sound on some demos matches the approach of the band.

Then the full-length comes out and the band sounds too clean or too controlled. Of course, sometimes that’s just the band having time to tighten up before dropping the full-length debut. In that case, I tend to appreciate the clearer, seasoned approach—just see Sodom.

When I Started to Appreciate Band Demos

When I finally started to give band demos their props was when I started hunting down demos by thrash bands. I was looking looking for Sodom’s Witching Metal demo and managed to find Victims of Death through my usual means. While I eventually went back and listened to WM, in the comments it was mentioned that VoD was the better demo—it is—and that the production was both raw but listenable,

It’s an old trope in metal circles that “raw” means lowest production value of the band’s career. Often times, this is true, and Victims of Death was far from a polished release, but I liked what I was hearing of pre-debut Sodom. That demo as well as Skelator’s Give Me Metal or Give Me Death really had me looking at demos differently as it’s a look at where the band started.

Mind you, I still check out demos after checking out the full-lengths but my loop once I get back to the start and check out demos is to then listen to the debut album. You know, to see how far the band came between the demos/early EPs and their debut.

What demos have impressed you and did you have a period where you just didn’t care for demo releases? If so, what were your reasons for skipping them? Are you still avoiding demos? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.