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Demonhead - Black Devil Lies Award winner

Demonhead
Black Devil Lies
by Max Elias at 05 October 2019, 12:50 PM

DEMONHEAD are an unconventional mixture. At times, they brim with aggression and at times they mellow things out to build intensity and atmosphere. They describe themselves as taking elements of Thrash, Stoner Metal, Punk, and traditional Heavy Metal and implementing them in the creation of their sound; they retain the riff-based aesthetic of Thrash while adhering to simpler, primal grooves. If I had to give them a genre tag it would probably be Stoner Thrash, which might be more common than I think it is. I’m not too familiar with Stoner Metal, so to me it’s pretty unique.

“Against the Grain” is a perfect track to show off the multitudes of stylistic conventions embodied in DEMONHEAD’s music. It starts with an eerie clean intro before a stomping, repetitive groove comes bearing down, and even ends with a solo. The riffs the band writes are heavy, but not heavy in a blistering speed kind of way. They write rolling groove riffs that pull heavily from ultra-heavy blues rock bands like BLACK SABBATH was originally. Because the band is not 100% a thrash band, the drumming is looser and has more freedom than simply pounding out a straight rhythm, even on a song like “Betrayal Avenged”, which pulls more heavily than usual on the Thrash Metal end of things.

I get a glimpse of a PANTERA vibe from some of this; the vocals are nowhere near the range or power of Phil Anselmo, but the general timbre is similar. And on some songs (“Zombocalypse”, “The Ritual”, “Blood Debt”, parts of “Children of the Night”) the groove mixed with thrash riffing sounds like something PANTERA might have written. The vocals are harsh on most songs, but show equal proficiency when they go clean. “Children of the Night” is a stomping Heavy Metal track with a riff that resembles “Children of the Grave”, which may be why cleaner vocals sound more natural on it.

The mix of intricacy and accessibility on this album is wonderful and results in not only driving rhythms and riffs, but where there are lead guitar moments, they are lyrical and impactful, as in the melodic section of “Blood Debt”. And although difficult to understand, the vocals are catchy and hook-laden. The harmonics running underneath the verses of “Black Devil Lies” produce a “Cemetery Gates” vibe.

Every song on this album is an original blend of cutting riffs and primal groove, seamlessly integrating melodic sensibility and instrumental inventiveness. This is a fantastic album from a fantastic, if somewhat less than prolific, band, and it shouldn’t be ignored by any metal fan, as at the very least there are elements of it that will appeal to fans of most sub-genres.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Against the Grain
2. Betrayal Avenged
3. The Ritual
4. Children of the Night
5. Blood Debt
6. Black Devil Lies
7. Eyes of the Insane
8. Zombocalypse
9. Double Cross the Dead
10. Face Your Demons
11. Behind the Mirror
12. No More
Lineup:
Rue Power - Guitars
Dave Lowes - Vocals, Guitars
Dean Lewer - Drums
Azz Mammoth - Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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