Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rogue Transmissions - Head of the Demon - ST (album review)

Head of the Demon came across my desk like the stone carving of Pazuzu found in Northern Iraq at the beginning of The Exorcist and I've been obsessed by its blackened ambiance and old school doom metal sensibilities ever since.  Where did it come from?  How did I first hear about it?  Why am I so darkly drawn to the cover artwork?  These are questions without answers, or at least answers lost in a demon possessed black out.  And if they're still out there, I no longer wish to find them.

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.

After spending the bulk of the front half of the album building up the horrific atmosphere in a style that I've never heard done more effectively, "The Key" springs forth with vibrato organ and the listener is transported immediately to vaulted coffin-filled chambers.  Again, after carefully isolating the listener in a filth encrusted cavern whose walls cry black tears of ancient blood, the organ pops out in bas relief like a pustulating boil, vibrant and immediate.  It doesn't hurt matters that the organ rides atop the best riff on the whole album with a lyrical invocation to Yog Sothoth to boot!  Lyrically, Lovecraftian themes are explored and the band does a fantastic job of capturing the hopelessness that the tall man from Providence lent to most of his stories.

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"

Rating: 4.5/5

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.

Better Review:
From the Dust Returned
Sea of Tranquility

Head of the Demon facebook


OR HERE (digital)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...