I’ve been waiting to write this for quite some time. In my last review, I hinted at how Demetori occupies this special spot in my personal pantheon of Touhou music circles, alongside names like Rolling Contact, 給食頭蛮, or S.S.H. Today… we’re going back to 2008 again so I can explain why.
I know, I know, I keep reviewing the old stuff. But it’s not that much of a surprise if you think about it. It’s totally normal the Touhou music that had the most impact on me tends to be from albums that came from around the same time period.
Especially 2008 and 2009, which happened to be the first years of my involvement with the fandom. Although it’s worth noting that it wouldn’t be until around early 2010 or so I’d get to discover Demetori. At this point in time, I was a 16-year-old high school student, Touhou had been my latest and biggest obsession for a couple of years, and I was doing what… just about every 16-year-old with an online obsession does; look for any creative outlet imaginable to express it.
Writing was, and still is my call, so naturally, it was fanfiction time for me. Let’s just say I was horrible at it, it was all in French (l’horreur, j’te jure!) and it was a textbook case of Mary Sue (or, in my case, Gary Stu) characters romancing all my favorite canons and terrible wish-fulfillment writing. I knew it, too, I knew I was writing literary schlock, and I had some degree of shame and self-consciousness over it, but, hey, who cares, right? It was fun, I was doing what I can.
I’m told I write a really good Sakuya nowadays, so, take that, 16-year-old me.
Now that you have an idea of the kind of headspace I was in at the time, enter one friend, who I will refer to as Yagami - no, not that one, not that one either, 8 years too early.
Let’s just call them Yagami.
Yagami has been perhaps one of the earliest friends I’d made when I joined the Touhou fandom. At the time, I had the habit of checking French-speaking communities more often than English-speaking ones, and it just so happened I got into a particular forum during its very early days which they were also a member of. Yagami ended up being a very important person for me, both as a Touhou fan and in general.
I’ll skip over the not-Touhou reasons - let’s just say there were feelings and a bit of a romantic plot, but it’s like every high-school romance plot; not worth dwelling over.
The Touhou side of this is the most relevant part because… time and time again, Demetori was around whenever they were around. Yagami is more or less the reason I discovered the circle.
They showed me an old, since taken-down YouTube upload featuring a certain song, which served as my introduction to the circle. It was, of course, Ascending into Naught, an arrange of Remilia Scarlet’s iconic theme song, Septette for a Dead Princess.
When I found new Demetori songs or albums to talk about, Yagami was the first person to tell me about it, or I was the one rushing to talk to them about it. When we briefly found one another again many years later - as late as 2018… They told me thinking about Demetori reminded them of me. And that’s just… words like that stay with you, y’know?
Those who’ve known me for a while know I am a nerd about electronic music and I have an obsession with genres. But those who’ve known me longer know that whenever I’m not in the electronic mood, I switch over to the many flavors of rock and metal.
I grew up on the classics of my mother’s collection of hard rock and thrash metal. To give you an idea, hearing Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, or Slayer at home or at her workplace was once an everyday occurrence, and it helped me expand the horizons, so to speak, and discover everything from Alice in Chains, Static-X, Avenged Sevenfold, Jimmy Eat Rock, Powerman 5000, and later in life, things like Tool, Annihilator, Sonata Arctica, Angra and countless more… Yeah, it’s a wide net, everything from grunge to alt-rock to industrial metal to power and speed metal. If it shreds and it sounds good, I’m down for it. I’m an easily pleased snake.
Demetori scratched that kind of itch perfectly on the Touhou side of things. They had that sound I was looking for, played the kind of metal that was powerful, epic, grandiose, it was - and still is - Touhou but if two brothers elevated it to a giant concert, ready to turn all of Gensokyo like a mosh pit. This was my first, true introduction to Touhou metal of any flavor, a bug that bit me and follows me to this day.
While you might hear other fans refer to Demetori as one person or one entity… it’s both true and false. Demetori is a circle made up of two brothers; 徳南 (who goes by tera_demetori on The Site Formerly Known as Twitter) and 九宝時 (kyuhojimae). 徳南 does all guitars and electronics, 九宝時 is the drummer, as powerful as Raiko Horikawa.
They are both blood type O, they are both 170 centimeters tall, and as they’ll tell you on their about page, Demetori is pronounced Demetri, not de-me-to-ri or de-mi-to-ri or even de-mi-so-ri, but that it’s good to be ecchi. (えっちなのは良いと思います) Like any good rockstars, they’re at least in touch with their naughty side; you love to see it.
Demetori is one of the OG mainstays of the general universe of Touhou rock and metal. They started out collaborating with the even older UI-70 with 彼岸花葬 ～the view of spiral riverside～, released at Comiket 69 in 2005. Demetori seem to consider this their first album; right down to the CD code being UIDEM-01. However, their first, true, UI-less album was the excellently named Shout at the Devil (CD code DECD-0002), released in Summer of 2006 for Comiket 70.
After that… the circle was known for two things; releasing albums semi-infrequently and being HUGE news in the Touhou music world whenever they did. In over 18 years of existence, Demetori has released only 13 albums… 14 if you count spiral riverside.
Entire circles rose and fell and produced more songs than they did… and arguably left less of an impact than they did. Every single album they’ve produced is a keystone with distinctive tracks. In addition to spiral riverside and Shout at the Devil, that’s the whole discography and release years:
- 2006: Il Mondo dove e finito il Tempo (Italian for The World at the end of Time) and 如臨深遠 ～雨縒煙柳～
- 2008: 闡提宗祀 ～ Offering to The Sukhavati
- 2009: 曼衍珠汝華 ～ Nada Upasana Pundarika
- 2011: Begierde Des Zauberer (German for Desire of the Wizard)
- 2012: Tendre est la Mort (French for Tender is Death) ; technically a 3-track single instead of an album, but included here for completeness
- 2013: le Grimoire de Rêve (French for Dream Grimoire)
- 2015: 愧人贖悪 ～ Evil People as the True Object of Salvation ～
- 2016: Ledenstrieb & Todenstrieb (German for Life Instinct & Death Instinct)
- 2017: Determinism and DestruKction
- 2018: 瑰狂鬱嵂
- 2022: And lastly, 寂光寂滅 ～ The Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha (Dukkha is Sanskrit for the Buddhist concept of suffering)
The first thing I saw was the song title. Septette for a Dead Princess ~ Ascending into Naught. Then I saw the song length. 7 minutes 24 seconds. I was in for something of epic proportions. What it definitely wasn’t is naught.
The song opens with the famous intro to Septette, translating ZUN’s original short piano into a twin guitar opener, supported by energetic drums and what sounds like backing winds. The intro lasts a good 38 seconds then propels us into the first bar and its familiar opening notes, then continues with the same loudness and energy into the second bar at about 1:44.
At that point, you might expect it to be a by-the-book, if energetic rendition of Septette. Sure, it seems that way at first, then we get some transition riffing from 2:08 to 2:19, hinting that the two brothers are just about ready to jam out… but not yet. It’s just a transition followed by a brief pause. At 2:20, we’re back to the first bar of Septette, back for another round imagining Remilia dressed in all black and shredding those guitars, followed by the second bar at 3:23.
The second round was mostly the same as the first, and you could be forgiven for thinking that’s all there is to it. But there’s once again the same transitional riffs at 3:49, ending with brief pause and a strum of the acoustic guitars at exactly 4:00.
Then, the surprise. Like Remilia pulling out Spear the Gungnir out of nowhere, Demetori hits out of nowhere with a manic guitar solo. It still vaguely sounds like Septette, but it’s clear there’s some kind of demon unleashed. At 4:26, the solo gives way to an exhilarating guitar crescendo that makes it sound like the end of the song is near, and I admit, they could have jumped off at 4:37 and transitioned to an outro right there and I’d have still called it excellent.
But oh no. There’s still 3 more minutes of this.
With what I can only describe as the musical equivalent of edging, they follow THAT kind of buildup with… a third round of Septette’s first bar, and the second bar at 4:56. Again? Oh, it’s so good, it’s like another helping of fries; hardly imaginative, but can you really blame them? There’s a reason Septette for a Dead Princess is such a catchy theme and this is it right there.
You can play this with any instruments, remix and re-arrange it in any way, and it still captures that Remilia feeling. More than a testament to Demetori’s skills, it’s the proof that ZUN’s philosophy works. If I recall correctly, ZUN creates the general setting first, then composes the music, and only then writes the story and the characters around the theme songs. It’s not that Septette is Remilia’s theme, it’s Remilia is Septette’s character.
At 5:23, the song briefly pauses, then eases us in with an acoustic guitar-driven transition. It’s very soft and nice, like a brief moment of respite in the middle of a heated danmaku battle. Maybe the kind you yourself had, if you’ve ever made it to Remi while playing EoSD…
And just like in a danmaku battle against the final boss, it’s a brief moment of respite followed by the hardest and the loudest the song gets. With heavy drumming announcing the entry into the final stretch of this song at 5:49, we get the iconic second bar again, but with even more energy than ever before. It’s The Same but More Powerful.
Finally, at 6:40, Demetori transitions the song into its final segment, cycling back to the first bar with renewed energy, but only playing it long enough to send us to the outro, starting from 7:06 with the ending riffs and a final, brief, but satisfying crescendo that could have punctuated Reimu finally slapping a vampire out of her final Spell Card.
Just like that, it’s over, Stage Complete. You made it through. It’s the end of an experience.
Look, I’ll admit it. I just love Demetori. I also recognize this might not be the most imaginative arrange of Septette, much less the most technical.
There’s harder Demetori songs that seem to exist purely to show off how hard they can shred, like オリエンタルダークフライト from Shout at the Devil and its arranged version in Sukhavati, or 妖魔夜行 ～ Deterministic Chaos from destruKction.
There are more melodic and contemplative tracks, like 上海紅茶館 ～ Chinese Tea from Il Mondo or ハートフェルトファンシー ～ Prie a Dieu from Grimoire.
And there are other flavors of epic and bombastic, like 天空の花の都 ～ Bridge of The Lotus from Nada Upasana or フォールオブフォール ～ The Door Into Summer from Ledenstrieb.
But, that’s just it, isn’t it? Every album is a keystone, and every track, in part because new Demetori albums are such a rare treat, ends up being appreciated more for what they are, both as a part of their respective albums and as pieces of art standing on their own.
They don’t have to make every song a technical achievement for me to keep coming back. They don’t need to produce a zillion albums in 40 different genres, even though I’m a fan of Amane, the genius who does exactly that. They are just… Demetori. You know what you’re here for, they know it too, and maybe that’s why they take their time to release each album… It’s made with love and it shows.
And, one more thing. You, yes you, dear reader, are you an old fan like myself? Perhaps you, too, loved discovering Touhou music on YouTube? Did the name of my friend ring a bell in your mind the whole time?
The old era of YouTube uploaders - people like Phoenix Kappashiro, Alice Margatroid, and so on… It’s over. In a way, it was inevitable, it’s probably for the better, but… It’s not about that. Behind the account that might have, at one point, been somewhat well-known, was a friend I loved and still love very much. They’d been a part of my early journey into Touhou, and I don’t think I’d be there today without that friendship.
I miss you, and I still think about you every time I listen to Demetori.
Song title: 亡き王女の為のセプテット ～ Ascending Into Naught
Album: 闡提宗祀 ～ Offering to The Sukhavati (Track 8)
Release date: 2008/12/29 (Comiket 75)
Touhou originals remixed:
- 亡き王女の為のセプテット ; Septette for a Dead Princess (Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Remilia Scarlet’s theme)