Demon Head – Hellfire Ocean Void (2019) REVIEW

That you’d missed out and been passed by, that it is too late for health or happiness is the appropriate akinetopsia for a species that’d subvert their very nature unto destruction. Denial is the only meaningful absolution left for men who are surrounded by disturbed, gun-wielding inbred offspring desperately self-medicating towards death within a manufactured culture-free, guiltless dystopia. The willful deletion of history is a thankful byproduct of assured destruction, a muting of the recorded prosperity of the most intrepidly violent monsters among men will fold into pools of toxic death and endlessly boiling storm. Merciful death presses her weaponry upon skin in a swift vertical slice freeing the truth that we’re no longer willing to fight. Spin your arms in wild circles and spray foully weakened anemia in hopes of hastening our dying as all habitable climes sour; What feeds our unchanging chemistry wilts before us. What inspiration it is that the nihilist is proven the exacting scientist and prophet centuries sooner than expected? It only seems cruel that the greatest minds of the last three thousand years, those who’d seen the end coming, would die in comparative lushness of hopeful mass stupidity instead of our coldly surrealistic Hell of the zealot’s rule over our choirs of corpse-like denial. Will you worship death and the end with us? I am unafraid to beg for the healing spray of the great serpent’s acidic sermon anymore no, not now that I have heard the rapture of all cessation compressed and osmotically channeled through the chants and cosmic fingerings of Denmark’s finest hermetic magia, the frost-preserved will of quintet Demon Head and the sullen swells of ‘Hellfire Ocean Void’.

There is no telling how Scandinavian occult rock will recover from the slightly awkward shame of Ghost‘s persistence but, there are yet hundreds of alternatives past-and-present who’d serve to distract from that particularly spoiled vat of goat milk. Among the most enriched and occult-seasoned exist heavy psych and proto-doom metal’s offspring the odd Witchcraft, Dunbarrow, or the boldly analog cresting wave of Copenhagen based Demon Head. Conjoined unto rituals of oblivion in just 2012 the quintet remain knit tightly in their ascending values as their third album is given obsidian sharpness. The isolated retreat is not a new ethos but, a rarely seized opportunity to capture the feeling of either freedom or, in the case of Demon Head, the freezing oppression of Scandinavian winter. Before it would seem that the deeply stoned Danes had the existential B-movie horror of Bobby Liebling‘s frozen in time 70’s candor spiriting their lilt as they’d verge on proto-Pentagram levels of coolly intoxicating lament; This was battery pack to their thoughtful debut ‘Ride the Wilderness’ (2015) and its next-level follow up ‘Thunder on the Fields’ (2017) while ‘Hellfire Ocean Void’ appears as a step beyond their influences and into their darkest selves.

Cooped on the coast of Denmark and yet freed of time and space Demon Head would proceed without hesitation, as if possessed with inspiration, in conjuring this finely subtle heavy psych record assured that their sound was distinct enough to leave behind their resemblance of early 80’s doom metal cadence. The gloom of Scandinavian affect is mere unavoidable symptom of the vexing ease found within ‘Hellfire Ocean Void’. With each passing moment I felt the last song escape and rejoice, then yearn to be recaptured as harrowing harmonies would seem to celebrate the very cycle of their creation and cessation. What built subtly across several listens wasn’t so much viral earworming saccharine zest but a dependency on the chilling escape they offered. This ascent from spooky, glowering occult rock towards actual musical drug could easily be overlooked by the impatient and the only real caveat I can suggest is that this third Demon Head record is something newly smoothed by confidence, a true grower. What could compare? The blues informed of of the 70’s I could conjure offer nothing that’d seemingly compare to the very present and evolved apocalyptic sorrow therein, some of the subversion of ‘Secret Treaties’ could fit but not without with a dose of ‘When the Screams Come’ level darkness. No doubt the greater clutch of fiends adopting Beastmaker, Demon Eye and Windhand in their lives will appreciate the fidelity and ancient bones of this record though Demon Head tower above each in terms of greater variety and a truly dynamic tracklist. A deeper look at Scandinavian occult rock could unveil various similarities but none as classically conglomerated.

As I’d eluded to earlier the first listen offered little more than a subconscious twinge but with each spin of ‘Hellfire Ocean Void’ its presence and impact grew. The mood and feeling of the piece is esoteric, perhaps even more psychedelic than it initially appears and this is where Demon Head gripped me once I’d let go in expectation of a direct follow-up to ‘Thunder on the Fields’. They’re being much more ambitious here and for my own tastes it works in grand form and expresses as a more professional and spacious undertaking. The analog feeling of the recording isn’t grimy, it is slickly dark and black as the voided space on the layout no doubt thanks to their own growing skill in self-recording and the lauded polish offered by legendary producer Flemming Rasmussen (Artillery, Blind Guardian, Morbid Angel); They’ve not been cleaned-up but rather elevated to greater dynamic potential. It is an immersive experience that offers a truly ecstatic level of memorable and impassioned performance, somehow usurping the debut from NWOBHM greats Demon in my mind with this recording. Highly recommended. For preview “In The Hour of the Wolf” is a clear standout in my mind with its stomping beat and general showcase for the inspired performance of vocalist M.F. Larsen (Alucarda) throughout; Otherwise I’d say “A Flaming Sea” will absolutely serve compelling enough reason, in terms of songwriting and lyric, to check out the full album.

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Artist Demon Head
Type Album
Released February 22, 2019
BUY & LISTEN on Svart Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Demon Head on Facebook
Genre Heavy Psychedelic Rock,
Traditional Doom Metal

Feral ecstasies. 4.25/5.0

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