I was quite excited to listen to this newest band from Copenhagen, Denmark, I eagerly await the sounds of the first track, "Rumours". I am greeted warmly with a beauteous piano, emitting minor chords as it paces through a slow yet steady introduction.... Which then leads us to a barrage of instruments, all played ideally and quite well, giving me just a taste of what this magnanimous, introspective and unique band has to offer.
The band is Demon Head; the album is Hellfire Ocean Void - and this is unlike the usual "metal" sound that is currently coming out of Scandinavia. The album was recorded in Denmark and mastered by Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica, Morbid Angel) at Sweet Silence Studios. I was immensely impressed by the quality of the audio; each instrument and the vocals can be heard clearly and resounds in your ears with an unforgettable intensity.
The second track on the album, "The Night is Yours", has a hint of the definitive Scandinavian metal sound, with its' sporadic guitar riffs that slide perfectly into the song and a rolling cadence of the drums that gives it that metal 'groove".
I had the opportunity to speak with the singer, M.F.L., about Demon Head and their very distinguished sound in the current metal world, he says, "We have always tried to go our own way, and only tried to achieve a sound that pleased us. We listen to so much different music and don't identify with a scene...."
This is quite evident as the sound proceeds; a keyboard adds an eerie yet fitting ambiance to the song as M.F.L. repeats, "....when darkness comes....". It gives the listener a perfect feeling of uneasiness yet an eagerness to hear more of this indeed creative piece of music. With melodic guitar solos interspersed, the song has such a full, intense sound and the depth of M.F.L.'s voice compliments the ambiance they have created. You can watch the video for the song here, which of course includes leather, fire, blood and howling lyrics.
The fourth track on the album, "In the Hour of the Wolf", is a MUST HEAR. Aside from the amazing video/music for "The Night is Yours", this song is an epic that demands your attention!! With T.G.N. on guitar, he begins with a catchy riff that immediately gets your blood flowing and head bobbing. Again, the song is filled with graceful melodic guitar rhythms and suddenly seems to remind me of Judas Priest. Interestingly enough, M.F.L. had this to say about discovering his voice, "....the idea that I could sing in a band came after screaming along to the whole "Painkiller" album by Judas Priest while biking around Copenhagen."
He was later introduced to The Doors, which he also enjoyed singing along to - and he also says, "....there is much more Morrison and Halford-inspiration than Danzig, at least from my point of view." I had suggested that M.F.L.'s voice was quite reminiscent of Danzig and he set me straight on his vocal influences!! He has an incredible vocal range and one of the most interesting and seamless voices I have heard in metal in some time. The prominent, heavy drums by J.W. carry the song listlessly; as the tempo slows down and then speeds up again at the 4 minute mark. The last 30 seconds of the song are a bombastic ending; full of the intensity of the drums and the visceral voice of M.F.L., the entire band coming together as if they are one unit alone, a lone car of a rollercoaster coming into the final turn, as the song ends dramatically and with heart and soul of Demon Head.
"Strange Eggs" is quite an interesting song; I might almost want to classify it as 'doom metal' - although I would hate to put Demon Head into just one category. It lulls you in with a slow, brooding cadence, an almost jazzy drumming style, which showcases J.W.'s full range of talents. The vocals, guitar and bass launch in after a little over a minute of intricate and spell-binding drumming and with this song I can hear a bit of their Scandinavian folk roots arising. There is an absolute stunner of a guitar solo at the 5 minute mark, with intricate fingerwork that give it a slight Electric Wizard feel, especially with M.F.L. having effects on his vocals- giving it a strange but mesmerizing trippy ambiance.
"Death's Solitude" comes next; and this is probably my favourite track on the album. M. F. L. says about the meaning of the song, "....It's a rumination on the meaning of the now, when it seems that emptiness is just on the other side of the door. Reflecting on the beginning in the form of an origin myth, and the inevitable end- which from the atheist's point of view is a true end. The song was in part inspired by "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula Le Guin.”
Being that this already quite thought-provoking and consuming, I was so much more eager to listen to it for a fourth time knowing that it, in part, was based on literature. Putting that aside and focusing on the important part, the MUSIC, the song begins with a colourful acoustic arrangement. The vocals in this song are the most audible and prominent of all of the songs on the album; and a full drum beat carries the intensity of M.F.L's voice and T.G.N.'s guitar work perfectly. I was particularly impressed with the drum work on this song; the band chose a very intricate sounding groove that flows so beautifully with the words - if the meaning of the song isn't enough to get you to listen, the music will catch your ear and take your mind on a monotheistic journey to the end of days.
“Mercury and Sulphur" is the last song on the album; again, the vocals are quite prominent as well, describing quite elaborate scenarios. This is another interesting and positive trait of Demon Head; the subject matter is not the typical of metal - it seems they pick and choose their words with focus and intent, which is a refreshing break from the guttural screams at times (although those guttural screams get me through some quite harrowing days of my life, so I still adore them, yet a change is good once in a while).
The song gives the listener an ominous, "world is ending" kind of feeling, which is proper fitting for the final bow. I asked M.F.L is there was anything he and the band would like the listeners and fans to know, he replied, "We are deeply thankful for all the support that people has shown us until now. This music is our heart's blood and we put everything into it - as we have done on Hellfire Ocean Void. We hope that people will listen with dedication, and - as Birk once has said elsewhere- welcome us as generously as we welcome them."
There is no more fitting ending to this review of a tremendous album by Demon Head, an irreducible and humble band that is creating an arresting metal sound that defies genre and instead gives us original music, as M. F. L. said, is their "heart's blood"- and there is definitely no doubt about that.
Keep up to date with the band at the following sites;
Review by Marisa Dymond
@rocknrollarisa - Instagram