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Music Review

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Hellfire Ocean Void


Artist: Demon Head
Label: Svart Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 22 February 2019

Svart Records releases Hellfire Ocean Void, by Danish doom rockers Demon Head. They hail from Copenhagen and consist of M.F.L. on vocals, guitar and synthesisers, J.W. on drums, T.G.N. on guitar, M.F. on bass, and B.G.N. on recording, mixing and soundscapes. Since forming in 2012, they have released a Demo (2014), Ride the Wilderness (2015), Thunder on the Fields (2017), The Resistance EP (2018), and the aforementioned Hellfire Ocean Void. They record first in their own analogue studio before getting the resulting tracks remastered by producer Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Morbid Angel). The album incorporates the songs 'Rumours', 'The Night is Yours', 'A Flaming Sea', 'In the Hour of the Wolf', 'Labyrinth', 'Strange Eggs', 'Death’s Solitude' and 'Mercury and Sulphur'.

You might have guessed from the song titles that Demon Head’s main theme of songwriting is the occult and dark fantasy. These themes work well with this music, as you would expect with doom rock. But within the sub-genres of rock and metal there is doom and there is doom. Many people believe that metal is metal; it’s all pretty similar. However, for those in the know, even a sub-genre doesn’t necessarily tell you exactly what you’re getting… and most people wouldn’t have it any other way.

The main element which places Demon Head’s music in the doom category is the vocals. I wasn’t sure at first about the ultra-low, bass-like vocals, but they quickly grew on me. Like the rest of the structure, you never quite know where it’s going. I love this sort of format. Just like a mysterious alien or monster in a movie; the moment it is seen and understood fully it’s power is depleted. I listed to this album through three times, and I’m still not sure if I’ve got a handle on it. Music which does something radically different – that stretches away just out of reach – often proves more captivating than the conventional verse, verse, chorus, verse, solo, chorus.

'Rumours' is a mostly keyboard slow intro into the whole, and proves to be a mislead into the pleasurable shock that is 'The Night is Yours'. I don’t know if Demon Head release singles, but if so this is the obvious candidate. You are immediately drawn in by the excellent guitar hooks and melodies, with a solid low bassline of bass guitar and drums. This is by far the most upbeat track, despite the subject material and the vocals which sound just odd enough to tell you something eerie and bizarre is going on. In retrospect, they are a perfect accompaniment to the music elements, even though he’s not going to win any awards for singing prowess. That’s one of the many good things about rock and metal: you don’t need to have the greatest singer in the world, just something which suits the music. And this fits it like a glove.

Although still in low tones, the vocalist sings out more in 'A Flaming Sea'. It’s driven by a layered guitar riff which is suitably unconventional, and even the short instrumental break is odd but in a good way. 'In the Hour of the Wolf' has what you believe to be conventional rock song elements, but halfway through it gets creepy with some sound effects and a dully tolling clock bell, before a slow and heavy time change is incorporated which although there are some vocals, has more the feel of a long outro. The guitars build up throughout this section and then die away.

'Labyrinth' is an electro-acoustic number which has a very pagan feel to it. It wouldn’t be out of place in a film like The Wicker Man. 'Strange Eggs' is just outright weird, with several time changes, out of tune (or at least, out of key) guitar break, vocals with very little inflection, and a slowing to an odd screeching at the end. They’ve gone for Twilight Zone off-kilter and come very close to achieving it, although this is probably the weakest track.

'Death’s Solitude' has an almost medieval introduction, before the vocals set the scene for a showcase for the drums doing a near-repeating pattern (à la Nick Mason on the first half of Pink Floyd's 'A Saucerful of Secrets'), with the guitars using heavy chords. There is another nice outro, which maintains the drum pattern. 'Mercury and Sulphur' has a central theme which alters very slightly just when you get used to it. The guitar melody over the top is very good. A great way to finish the album.

Overall, this is completely unconventional, bonkers… and I love it. As I’ve said, I look forward to experiencing something different within established genres. Send me the previous albums and I’ll gladly review them.


Ty Power

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