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Head of the Demon - Deadly Black Doom

Head of the Demon
Deadly Black Doom
by Chris Hawkins at 22 April 2020, 7:22 PM

As a lifelong musician, I understand the level of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into writing music.  It is one thing to be a fluid, technical player; however, the next grade of the skill set is being able to create original music.  Though not everyone can be a Mozart-like prodigy, there is an inherent gift that allows one to truly manifest ideas into reality.  In a band situation, one would think it would be easier to collaborate but even team player situations often amount to the total load of writing being carried by one, maybe two people.  Look at all those old Metal albums and the trend is clear though with some assorted variances.  Because it is such a personal, unique skill set to write and record original music, I go into reviews with an open mind and though I may not be enraptured by the band/artist’s style, I try my best to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes, though, an album can just rub me the wrong way and unfortunately, that is the case in this instance.

HEAD OF THE DEMON is a Swedish band that formed in Stockholm back in 2012.  The band’s sound is described as a hybrid of Black/Doom Metal and this album, “Deadly Black Doom,” is their third full length.  Personally, that little space in the Metal world is my favorite.  It is the best of both worlds for bands that can nail it like TOMBS, DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT, and the inimitable FORGOTTEN TOMB.  Unfortunately, this album seems to meander around aimlessly and ultimately falling very short of the mark to be able to recommend it.

The House of Peor” begins with a faintly distorted guitar playing a passage of minor chords.  The vocals kick in and the guitar sound never gets heavy which sounds at odds with that Blackened Doom atmosphere they are trying to conjure.  Granted, it all sounds very clean, save for the vocals, but there is no climax, no danger, and simply, little fun to be had.  It just never seems to go anywhere.  To play a style that is so dependent upon heaviness and pure guitar muscle, it feels counterproductive for the guitars to be so hushed.  It isn’t just an issue with the amount of gain, because from an equalization standpoint, the overall sound is very much restrained.  If a band wants to employ vintage equipment, that is their prerogative, but this is just an overall muffled disaster, one that sounds like there is just not enough power, volume, or tone.

The following track, “Dawn Walker,” improves slightly upon the first track in atmosphere with a main riff that has an exotic flair.  The band next delves into a more SABBATH-type of riff which fizzles out when the vocals come in.  Once again, there is a lack of girth in the guitar department which just makes no sense.  For all of you players out there, it sounds like a Strat played on the bridge single coil pickup through a lower gain vintage tube amp – think AC30 or even a Fender Blues Deluxe.  If they just went through the album again with an overdrive in front of the amp, it would certainly beef things up.  I love old school Classic Rock, Proto metal, Doom, Blues, and even some Jazz stuff so I’m not all flaming pentagrams all the time, but this band just needs more life.  The riffs aren’t bad but they could stand out so much more with a few tweaks in the tone department along with some more harmony lines instead of all the guitar tracks just doubling the main part.  “En to Pan” follows and by the time this song comes along, I’ve just about given up hope.  As it plays through, it is just more of the same – simple riffs that sound like they are deprived of oxygen.  They need more gain just to let the chords ring out properly.  Perhaps theirs is a style that I just cannot get into.  After listening to the rest of the album, that was evidently the case.

The problem with “Deadly Black Doom” is not a lack of talent or creativity.  Some of the riffs had a vibe along the lines of the first DANZIG album though even that primitive-sounding (compared to the albums that followed) album boasted a guitar tone with far more aggression.  Melodically, there is an appeal in the eerie progressions employed but the problem is that after being disappointed repeatedly when expecting the song to get heavy, it is easy to become disillusioned.  I get the vibe they are trying to conjure, a witchy, straight-forward classic Metal sound with some dark flourishes scattered throughout.  It is baffling how the band have come so very close to a powerful, memorable sound, one steeped in a mystique of dark intrigue, yet someone just didn’t turn up the damn guitar enough!  That is the sad deal breaker.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Memorability: 4
Production: 3

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The House of Peor
2. Dawn Walker
3. En to Pan
4. Set-Sutekh
5. St. Cyprian
6. Voidsoul
Lineup:
Johannes - Guitar, Vocals
José – Bass
Saibot - Vocals
Thomas – Drums
Konstantin – Guitar, Bass
Record Label: Invictus Productions
     


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