Now, before we even begin, I must say that what we've got here is a sound that wasn't at all what I was expecting when I picked this thing up, well not entirely anyway. I was expecting some dark and tough as nails old school metal with doom leanings along the lines of say Night Demon, Natur or even Ghost Tower. What I got was blackened and unlike anything else in my collection, sitting atop the pile as a charred gargoyle gorges on a hill of corpses, misshapen and isolated.
Typically, and I say this a lot, I need riffs to enjoy my music. Rarely do I fall for an album which relies entirely upon atmosphere for its charm. But when a band gets the atmosphere just right, without ever slipping up, well it goes beyond the catchy and becomes gangrenously infectious. It infects not only the mind but the soul, probably all the more effectively because there's not a lot of memorable moments to rope a memory around, just an overall favorable impression that must be heard again and again to be revisited. The first time I listened to this album I couldn't stop thinking about it and it took a while to get my head back into normal shape.
While most black metal bands depend on the drums to put up an impenetrable barrier of noise upon which mournful banshee-like vocals are scrawled, Head of the Demon takes a different approach. About the only thing that really qualifies this dark masterpiece as blackened anything is the recognizable jangly black metal guitar sound which lifts listeners in a bruising whirlwind and transports them to a kipple strewn landscape of time devoured cyclopean ruins.
While searching for the right soundtrack to fuel the imagination and spark the birth of dark ideas, this stuff provides a heady brew indeed. Once again, the "hook" here is in the atmosphere. This album grows nightmares like mushrooms in a black and musty chamber of filth. Demonic descending scales and wailing notes that connect like spider's web combines with a sketchy and low-fi production sound to create something truly unique, something to be treasured like remains found in the forest. The atmosphere and tension continues to build all the way to the bitter end of closing track "Wraith from the Unknown" when the Ancient Ones are finally awakened from their slumber and the earth is swallowed in an absolutely lightless abyss. Everything about the tone of the album is pitch perfect from the band name to the fascinating cover art to the mesmerizing lo-fi production sound that lends it something of the quality of a 'found footage' recording in a decaying and abandoned murder house. If you're looking to creep yourself out on a lonely night, then put on 'Head of the Demon'.
Highlights include: "The Key" and "Fifth House of the Mausoleum"
1). By Titan Hand (6:30)
2). The Lie in Wait-Riding the Waste (9:22)
3). Phantasmagoria (5:48)
4). The Man from Foreign Land (6:51)
5). The Key (6:22)
6). Fifth House of the Mausoleum (8:18)
7). Wraith from the Unknown (7:54)
Total Run Time: 49:29
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Genre: Doom, Black Metal
Reminds me of: Let's face it, this is pretty unique stuff.
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: When you wake up in the middle of the night, unable to move with the feeling of an evil presence in the room, put this album on as soon as you are able to regain motion.
From the Dust Returned
Sea of Tranquility
Head of the Demon facebook
GET IT HERE
OR HERE (digital)