Six Dumb Questions with Demon Eye

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on August 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon-eye-photo-ken-trousdell

Over the course of three albums, North Carolinian four-piece Demon Eye have evolved a notably crisp, efficient and standout method of constructing memorable songs, and as it should, their latest offering marks the pinnacle of their achievement in this to-date. Out Aug. 11 via Soulseller Records, the 11-track Prophecies and Lies (review here) is the proverbial lean and mean execution of classic-influenced heavy rock given a modern aesthetic update. Marked out by the stylized dynamic between vocalist/guitarist Erik Sugg, lead guitarist Larry Burlison and the driving forward rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen, Demon Eye‘s work stems from a core master plan dedicated to building an individualized sound around familiar structures, which is something neither easy to do nor often done as naturally as the Raleigh natives make it seem they’re doing it.

Veterans twice over of the Maryland Doom Fest and having earned a reputation for a particularly energetic delivery there and on just about every other stage they’ve taken, Demon Eye hit the studio this time around with founding Corrosion of Conformity bassist/vocalist Mike Dean at the helm. Dean‘s recordings often carry a distinct tonal sharpness, an edge that pervades the sound, and this suits the finished product of Prophecies and Lies in style and substance alike. Tempo shifts in cuts like “In the Spider’s Eye” and the engaging swing of “The Redeemer” are brought forth with underlying structural purpose as well as atmospheric breadth stemming not from self-indulgent meandering but from the tones, melodies and hooks that have become so much the staples of Demon Eye‘s approach.

Ahead of the release later this week, Sugg was kind enough to take some time out to discuss the band’s writing modus, their time in the studio with Dean, how Demon Eye feel about what they’ve accomplished three records into their ongoing tenure and more. Their release show for Prophecies and Lies takes place in Raleigh, NC, on Aug. 18 with Captain Beyond. More info on that can be found on the Thee Facebooks event page.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

demon eye prophecies and lies

When did the writing process start for Prophecies and Lies? Tell me about how the songs came together. Was there anything in particular you were looking to accomplish coming off of Leave the Light?

Generally most of our riffing is done individually. The classic, “dudes playing guitar alone in their bedrooms”-deal. But for the process with this album, one standout memory was when we were driving up to New England for a fest performance. Along the way we stayed in a Super 8 somewhere in Maryland and wrote a lot of ideas right there in the hotel room. Most of what was written that night ended up being what you hear on the record. Somewhere I still have the complimentary Super 8 notepad with all of the ideas written out. They have hilarious working titles, like “Erik’s Spidery Riff in D,” “Uncle Larry’s Acid in E,” “Voivod in G,” etc.

In terms of trying new things from the previous records, we wanted to try different dynamics with the music, like changing things rhythmically and structurally, while also making sure it still sounded like a Demon Eye record. We didn’t want people to listen to the new album and go, “Oh, this is their prog record.” For the first album there were a lot of occult/witchcraft themes. As the main songwriter for the band, that’s something I wanted to steer from. I enjoy that sort of thing and probably always will, but I didn’t want to pigeonhole us as being just another band who does that sort of thing.

Songwriting is always the element of Demon Eye’s work that strikes me the most. Do you have a specific approach to putting pieces together to make songs, or a general guiding philosophy for structure? Demon Eye sound like a modern band, but would you agree your songwriting might be the most classic element of what you do?

I would agree, yes. With our songs we basically just try to keep it simple and let things flow naturally. Most of our songs end up being the traditional verse/chorus/verse format. I tend to follow the philosophy of, “Why fix it if it ain’t broke?” Most of my favorite rock bands and heavy metal bands growing up did it like that. Songs like “Paranoid” and “The Prisoner” were more or less pop songs, simply by sticking to that format. Heavy pop songs, sure, but they had great hooks, powerful riffs, and well-crafted music that stayed with you and made you want to listen to them over and over again.

On the flipside of that philosophy I also love bands who write 10-20 minute epics. YOB, Sleep, and Electric Wizard are three of my favorite bands. I love their music dearly, but writing music in that style is not something I could do well. If Demon Eye ever tried to release a song like “Marrow” or “Holy Mountain” it would probably come off sounding forced and inauthentic. Maybe not, but it’s definitely not my particular comfort zone. I think it’s important to know your strengths. I believe our strengths are in the riffs, the melodies, and the basic song structures.

How was your time in the studio with Mike Dean? What is he like to work with as a producer, and what was behind your decision to have him work on the record? How long were you in the studio and what was the recording process like? What was the vibe as the album came together?

It was a total blast recording with Mike. He’s a hilarious guy with lots of energy and he works like a mad scientist. He’ll run around feeling completely inspired by one thing, then stop and shout, “Wait! Don’t do that! Forget that! Let’s try something else!” Mike’s a good friend so the vibe was very laid back. Just friends having a good time making music together. I think the overall timeline for the record, including mixing and mastering, was September of 2016 through January of 2017. Because Mike is very busy, and everyone in Demon Eye has so many different “life” obligations, we took our time and scheduled sessions pretty sporadically.

Prophecies and Lies is the third Demon Eye album. How do you feel about everything the band has been able to accomplish up to this point in your career? How do you feel about the audience you’ve been able to build and the response you’ve gotten live and to the three records?

Not to sound like a Pollyanna, but I am immensely grateful for all that we have. Our fanbase, the positive reviews, the opportunities we’ve been granted, the incredible people and bands we’ve had the chance to meet, etc. All of it. The thing with Demon Eye is that, in the beginning, we had zero intentions of doing anything outside of writing a few tunes and playing locally on occasion in front of like 20 of our friends. That was all we envisioned.

When our initial demo was recorded and put online, and then all the Internet activity and positive response came about (not to mention the record deal offer), we barely had time to process all of it. We were like, “Huh? This is really happening?!” It was very humbling. Sure, there’s more we’d like to do (like playing overseas and playing bigger fests), but we’re not the kind of guys who get bummed over what’s not happening. We are happy and grateful for what we do have, and it’s actually quite a lot. I look forward to doing more of what we’re doing now. More records, more performances, and meeting more amazing people.

Let’s talk lyrics. As a lyricist, do you see yourself more as telling a story or describing a theme? How much of Demon Eye’s lyrics are metaphors for real-world issues? You’ve delved into some pretty dark territory over the course of the albums. What has this allowed you to express, and how important do you feel the lyrics are to Demon Eye’s overall aesthetic?

It’s funny, because when I listen to my favorite bands the lyrics are typically the last thing I pay attention to. But with Demon Eye, I do take the lyrics seriously and feel they are important. For the last few records I have found myself focusing more on real-world issues.

If you play in a band that prefers darker song content, there is no shortage of material in the world today. Some days I’ll simply read the news and see what sort of madness is happening politically in this country. Sometimes I’ll find myself opening my perspective and seeing the evils that innocent people across the globe are forced to endure.

I used to work with children, and it was pretty sobering meeting a young mother who recently fled Syria with her two young daughters, only to arrive in America in time for a proposed ban on immigration. Those types of situations really make me think about the darker side of human nature and how it affects people who don’t deserve it.

Also, I don’t really talk about it much in interviews, but I’ve also dealt with a lot of mental illness and substance abuse issues in my life. After putting a lot of care into my health throughout the past decade (sobriety, lifestyle changes, etc.), it’s granted me the opportunity to explore things with a fresher perspective, and naturally, songwriting provides you with the chance to express yourself.

One thing I always try to do, though, is to make Demon Eye’s song content as universal as I possibly can. I try to think, “Now what would someone want to raise their fist and shout along to?” It may not always come out as intended, but it is something I strive for.

Demon Eye toured the West Coast in 2016 and has played Maryand Doom Fest two years in a row now Any plans, shows coming up or other closing words you want to mention?

Our record release show for Prophecies and Lies will be on Aug. 18 at the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, NC, with Captain Beyond. We are honored to celebrate the release of this album with such a legendary band. During the latter part of the year we are planning on heading throughout the Midwest again, and we also want to hit the Northeast and make our way south throughout Texas. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s support and hope that we have the chance to meet all of you in person!

Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies (2017)

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Demon Eye website

Soulseller Records website

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Review & Track Premiere: Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon eye prophecies and lies

[Click play above to stream ‘The Redeemer’ from Demon Eye’s new album, Prophecies and Lies, out Aug. 11 on Soulseller Records.]

North Carolinian double-guitar doom-rocking four-piece Demon Eye have been up front all along. Really. Since the band made their debut on Soulseller Records with 2014’s Leave the Light (review here), they’ve made no effort to mask where they’re coming from in terms of blending the ways of modern garage doom and classic ’70s heavy rock, bridging a gap between Uncle Acid and Pentagram, with KISS hooks and early Rush shuffle and Judas Priest metallurgy thrown in for good measure. Prophecies and Lies is their third outing for Soulseller behind 2015’s Tempora Infernalia (review here) and it pairs the band with founding Corrosion of Conformity bassist/vocalist Mike Dean as producer, resulting in the tightest incarnation of their sound to-date.

Songwriting has always been a feature of their work, but to hear them groove their way through “Dying for It” or the swaggering “The Redeemer,” their path of development seems to have taken another forward step in efficiency even from where it was two years ago, and as the returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, lead guitarist Larry Burlison, bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen dig into the cowbell and dual leads of “Vagabond,” the motor-riffing of “In the Spider’s Eye” or the crisp ’70s proto-metallic starts and stops in the verses of “The Redeemer,” it’s their penchant for memorable choruses that unites Prophecies and Lies across its 11 tracks/42 minutes, so that the record flows consistently despite its primary impression being as a showcase for its individual pieces.

It is in that that Demon Eye are perhaps at their most loyal to classic notions of what an album is, and again, they’ve yet to bring it to such realized fruition as they do here, having their cake and eating it too as they tie the standout hooks of the Wino-style-riffed “Politic Divine” together with “The Waters and the Wild” through a consistency of approach and tone. The latter cut opens Prophecies and Lies with a forceful introductory wash of cymbals and thuds behind its first riff — a subtle introduction to the course of what’s to follow — and soon enough is galloping through its first verse. Already — less than a minute in — Demon Eye have given crucial signals to their audience of their intentions and the methods they’ll use to convey them throughout the album that follows. “The Waters and the Wild” trades between its gallop and a more rolling chorus, stepping aside for a nodding bridge in its second half leading to a solo section and final run through the hook. Clean, crisp, refreshing. Nothing spare to it. And that’s how they’ll continue to operate as “In the Spider’s Eye,” “The Redeemer,” “Kismet,” “Infinite Regress” and “Dying for It” complete a Side A evenly split in 21-minute increments with the second half still to come.

demon eye

Some groups just have an innate sense of structure. Demon Eye would seem to be such a band, but as listening back to Leave the Light or Tempora Infernalia shows, they also work at it, and that work is paying off here, whether it’s in their ability to pull off the sudden doomly slowdown in “In the Spider’s Eye” or in the way “Kismet,” with no major change in its overall sound or feel, seems to become anthemic simply by matching Sugg‘s and Burlison‘s guitars in quick lead sections. Every flourish, every nuance on Prophecies and Lies, from the turn into a calming presence for “Infinite Regress” to the all-out double-time hi-hat from Eagen on “Dying for It,” serves a purpose, and that willfulness of execution underscores both the clear effort Demon Eye have made to advance themselves stylistically and the organic place from which their impulse toward structure comes.

One guitar, Walz‘s bass, the other guitar and the drums as the final component lead the way into “Politic Divine” at the start of side B, a lyrical reference to a thunder god soon to follow as Sugg‘s layered vocals tie terrestrial concerns to spooked-out themes in classic metal fashion. I don’t know how thematic Prophecies and Lies is meant to be as a whole, but this too is an example of how Demon Eye have grown over the last couple years, since as “Politic Divine” finishes and “Power of One” immediately picks up on the next beat — the two obviously meant to be taken as a pair — the examining of social themes, even couched in metaphor, comes across as a newer or at least more-focused-on idea for the band. That is to say, while they may have been offering similar commentary in the past, the way they’re doing so in these tracks is clearer about what it wants to say and the judgment it’s making. A clue to the album’s title, which also blends the ethereal and the worldly? Maybe.

In either case, Demon Eye remain as clear-headed as ever throughout those two, the Maiden-esque “Vagabond,” the spoken-word-over-quieter-fare title-track — consider it a mirror in purpose to side A’s penultimate cut in “Infinite Regress,” but more fleshed out — and seven-minute closer and longest inclusion “Morning’s Son,” which uses its extra space to compel the band into a well-earned grandiose finish, marked by keyboard flourish and a cymbal wash to bookend that which started “The Waters and the Wild.”

The more one digs into the details of Prophecies and Lies, the more there is to find that reinforces the idea of how sure their foundation and delivery has become, and the final crashes from Eagen are a last-minute reminder from Demon Eye that while they may be writing individual songs that work very much on that level — that is, you could pull just about any of them from its surroundings, even “Infinite Regress” and “Prophecies and Lies,” and make it a single — there is a larger purpose at work in making them function together as a single, fluid entity. This level of construction might be the greatest achievement on Prophecies and Lies, but make no mistake, whatever else is accomplished, the album rocks and at no point fails to fully engage its audience on whatever level they might want to meet it.

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Demon Eye website

Soulseller Records website

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Demon Eye to Release Prophecies and Lies Aug. 11; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon eye

Ahead of their appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2017, North Carolina proto-style heavy rockers Demon Eye announce an Aug. 11 release date for their new album, Prophecies and Lies. Recorded by Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity and set for issue through Soulseller Records like the band’s preceding 2015 outing, Tempora Infernalia (review here), and their 2014 debut, Leave the Light (review here), the latest offering gets its first public preview in the opening track “The Waters and the Wild,” which you can stream at the bottom of this post.

I’m glad to say that the band’s knack for memorable songwriting seems to be intact in the new cut, and I mention same only because I’ve listened to it just once and it’s already stuck in my head. That’s kind of how Demon Eye roll.

Album details and audio came down the PR wire. Behold:

demon-eye-prophecies-and-lies

DEMON EYE – New album ‘Prophecies and Lies’ – Details and first track available

DEMON EYE are back with their third offering and another dose of their own blend of Heavy Classic Rock, Proto Metal and Traditional Doom!

“Prophecies and Lies” will be released on 11th August 2017 via Soulseller Records on CD, vinyl and in digital versions.

The new album was recorded by Mike Dean of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY in the band’s hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, and displays a strong musical progression with mighty riffs, haunting melodies and fist-raising anthems. DEMON EYE are bringing vintage heavy darkness for modern times and current day evils.

Check out the album’s opening track, “The Waters and the Wild”, at this location: https://demoneye.bandcamp.com/track/the-waters-and-the-wild

Tracklist:
1. The Waters and the Wild
2. In the Spider’s Eye
3. The Redeemer
4. Kismet
5. Infinite Regress
6. Dying For It
7. Politic Devine
8. Power of One
9. Vagabond
10. Prophecies and Lies
11. Morning’s Son

Demon Eye live:
Jun 23 Cafe 611 Frederick, MD at Maryland Doom Fest 2017

https://www.facebook.com/demoneyenc
https://demoneye.bandcamp.com
http://www.demoneyeofficial.com/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com

Demon Eye, “The Waters and the Wild”

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Demon Eye and Disenchanter Announce West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Portland, Oregon’s Disenchanter will welcome North Carolinian doom rockers Demon Eye in April for a West Coast run presented by Nanotear Booking. To my knowledge, it marks Demon Eye‘s first trip out west, and for Disenchanter, it follows an EP compilation released on NoSlip Records and the announcement that they’ll take part in Psycho Las Vegas in August.

Demon Eye, meanwhile, will also play Maryland Doom Fest 2016 in June. Their second album, Tempora Infernalia (review here), was issued last year on Soulseller Records and they’ve supported it since playing local shows with the likes of Acid King and Pentagram. Guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg was also recently announced as having joined Lightning Born, whose lineup features, among others, C.O.C. bassist Mike Dean.

More on that as I hear it. Here are the tour dates and more info:

demon eye disenchanter new poster

Our West Coast tour with Disenchanter will be happening soon! A huge thanks to Nanotear Booking!

Coming up in April: Demon Eye and Disenchanter West Coast tour!

The stars have aligned

Formed in May of 2011, rising from the ashes of the black machine, invoked after many moons, Disenchanter is a heavy rock band riding the currents of doom, casting riffs of rock, and melding the elixirs of metal to bring forth a fantasy of sci-fi wrapped in a stoner groove!

Demon Eye’s heavy grooves and thunder rhythms channel the doom and crush of Black Sabbath and Pentagram, and the fist banging shred of early ‘Maiden. The band has received international recognition for their highly acclaimed songcraft and their stunning live performances. Demon Eye remains hellbent on bringing their hook-laden, dark riffin’ songcraft to fans far and wide.

4/14 Seattle, WA – Highline
4/15 Portland, OR – High Water Mark
4/16 Grant’s Pass, OR – The Haul
4/17 Sacramento, CA – Blue Lamp
4/18 Pacifica, CA – Winter’s Tavern
4/19 San Jose, CA – The Caravan
4/20 Los Angeles, CA – Complex
4/21 San Diego, CA – Kensington Club
4/22 Los Osos, CA – Sweet Springs Saloon
4/23 Oakland, CA – Oakland Metro

https://www.facebook.com/demoneyenc/
https://demoneye.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DisenchanterPDX/
http://disenchanter.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Nanotear/

Demon Eye, Tempora Infernalia (2015)

Disenchanter, Strange Creatures (2015)

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Demon Eye Post New Video for “End of Days”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

demon eye

North Carolina semi-cultish heavy rockers Demon Eye released their second album, Tempora Infernalia (review here), in May through Soulseller Records. It was and is the follow-up to last year’s Leave the Light (review here) in literal and figurative terms, expanding on many similar ideas while also pushing further along the band’s progressive path. And Demon Eye have proved quickly that they have something to offer in their near-garage take on post-Pentagram doom, somewhere between the classic and the modern and nowhere near as unclear about what they want to do as I seem to be about describing it, but more than their stylistic nuance, what really excites about their work thus far is the core of songwriting underneath.

There’s something to be said about the strength of underlying structure in songcraft and the various shapes of material one might build on such a solid foundation, and to me, Demon Eye just prove that. They’re not blindsiding anybody with technicality, and nor are they all-style-over-substance when it comes to their aesthetic choices, but they write memorable songs, and by focusing on that first, allow the rest to fill in naturally. Case in point is “End of Days” from Tempora Infernalia. Guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen, bassist Paul Walz and lead guitarist Larry Burlison aren’t exactly subtle in terms of perspective, but the impact of the song is even more about its hook and how goddamn catchy it is. Thus far, I’ve heard nothing from Demon Eye to make me think they won’t continue to grow within this methodology.

And as I say, they have aesthetics to offer as well, as the new video for “End of Days” demonstrates. Demon Eye already shared the stage this week with Mos Generator and The Atomic Bitchwax, and they have shows coming up in the next few weeks with Lo-Pan and Acid King as well. Dates follow the clip.

Enjoy:

Demon Eye, “End of Days” official video

From “Tempora Infernalia,” courtesy of Soulseller Records. Video was compiled, created and edited by Carmen Parks and the Mystery Machine.

NEW OFFICIAL VIDEO for END OF DAYS! A huge thanks to The Mystery Machine. See Demon Eye at the upcoming shows:

9/24 – Spacebar in Columbus, OH w/ BEGGARS & LO-PAN
9/25 – Live Wire in Chicago, IL w/ LADIES OF LEISURE & CROSS HAMMER
9/26 – Detroit, Michigan w/ THE BEGGARS (Detroit)
10/24 – Kings Barcade in Raleigh, NC w/ ACID KING

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

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Demon Eye, Tempora Infernalia: In the Fire and of It

Posted in Reviews on August 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

demon eye tempora infernalia

From Raleigh, North Carolina, the dual-guitar foursome Demon Eye rode out of the gate strong on the songwriting of their first full-length, 2014’s Leave the Light (review here), a straightforward but still atmospherically-minded collection of cultish-themes and prime riffs that was likewise unpretentious and preaching to the genre-converted. The inevitable sophomore outing, also released on Soulseller Records, is Tempora Infernalia, which follows suit from its predecessor in its thematic — though one could argue the cult vibes are less direct here — and overall sonic foundation. There are shades of Pentagram-style doom with Uncle Acid‘s newer-modus swing, though it irons out to an able execution of doom rock either way, and Tempora Infernalia is at very least that.

Its 40 minutes/10 tracks are efficiently constructed and come out clean even as they seem to revel in dirt, guitarists Erik Sugg (also vocals) and Larry Burlison (lead), bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen resounding in their cohesion as the record plays out, Sugg and Burlison leading the charge from opener “End of Days” onward, a ’70s boogie meeting early in uptempo pulse with doomly roll, the vocals furthering the retro vibe that’s balanced throughout with modernity of production. And that’s pretty much the story. Demon Eye are obviously capable songwriters, as they proved their first time out, and they have a clear idea of what they want to do with their sound, which they demonstrate plainly on these tracks in a manner that leaves very little room for argument.

And accordingly, I won’t argue against it. What I will say is that Tempora Infernalia feels like it was released a year after their debut, which of course it is. The actual timeline on when songs were written for both doesn’t really matter, what I’m talking about is more the level of progression between the two albums. Demon Eye started out knowing what they wanted to do, and with Tempora Infernalia, they’re doing it a second time. Cuts like “Listen to the Darkness” and side B’s shuffling “In the World, Not of It” are more than capable executions — the latter especially is a highlight that shifts the tempo slightly from the classic metallurgy of “Poison Garden” before it — but aren’t much more assured of their position than were “Edge of a Knife” or “Fires of Abalam” on the debut.

demon eye

The kicker there is the debut was already plenty assured, but for a band who hit the ground running in paying off the potential shown on their initial 2013 EP (all six songs from which were reused on the first album), one almost went into Tempora Infernalia expecting leaps and bounds from where they were a year ago, whereas the band’s project seems to be more centered around building a catalog of steady growth from one release to the next. Not an issue with the songs here — they even change things up in their approach with the “Solitude”-style penultimate placement of “Please, Father” before closer “Sons of Man” delivers the album’s nastiest hook — so much as with the context through which one enters into hearing them, but as someone who was impressed by the first record, the second stands behind it and affirms its motion rather than blowing it out of the water with the progression from one to the next.

That’s not to say Demon Eye haven’t grown at all in the last year. Leave the Light garnered fervent praise from underground circles, and the band accordingly took on the ’70s ethic of a quick follow-up. Fair enough. The vaguer threat of “I’ll be Creeping” and the speedy swing of “Black Winds” show a broader range for Tempora Infernalia and a willingness to try different ideas across a full-length span, while “See the Signs” reaffirms the craftsmanship that’s been the root of their appeal all along. Across the board, performances are air-tight, Sugg emerging as a frontman presence while not overplaying his hand in that regard, and the production and mixing of Alex Maiolo at Seriously Adequate Studio in NC are crisp in a way that adds to the momentum built as the record plays out.

A less-directly Satanic theme feels like a purposeful drive away from what they were doing on Leave the Light, and on repeat listens its blend of elder metal and newer heavy comes across as even more engaging, so while Demon Eye haven’t reinvented their or anyone else’s wheel with Tempora Infernalia, neither did they need to. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a steady path that mirrors the linear feel of their songwriting to produce a catalog of growth over a longer-term and more records. Whatever their method, all Tempora Infernalia really makes one do after listening to it is hope they keep working, however quickly they might or might not do so from here.

Demon Eye, “I’ll be Creeping”

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Soulseller Records

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Quarterly Review: Horsehunter, Church, Corpse Light, Sunder, T-Tops, The Space Merchants, Etiolated, Blown Out, Les Discrets, Beast Modulus

Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk summer quarterly review

Day one down and feeling good so far. Day two continues the thread of mixing more known quantities with bands either self-releasing or putting out demos, etc., and I like that. More than last time around — last quarter, if you want to use the business-y sounding language for it — I tried to really get a balance across this batch of reviews, posted yesterday and coming up over the next couple days. We’ll see how it works out when it’s over. It remains a ton of stuff, and I hope you dig it. Day two starts right now.

Quarterly review #11-20:

Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh

horsehunter caged in flesh

Pushing their way to the fore of Melbourne’s heavy surge, double-guitar four-piece Horsehunter proffer oppressive tonal crush on the four tracks of their 2LP Magnetic Eye Records debut, Caged in Flesh. The story goes that, unsatisfied the initial recordings weren’t heavy enough, the band – guitarists Michael Harutyanyan (also vocals) and Dan McDonald, bassist/vocalist Himi Stringer and drummer Nick Cron – went back into the studio and redid the entire thing. Mission accomplished. By the time 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Stoned to Death” is done, lungs are suitably deflated, spines are cracked, skulls cleaved, and so on. They’re hardly the only ones in the world to conjure formidable tonal heft, but it’s the deft changes in vocals – clean here, shouts there, more abrasive at the start of the title-track – and the sense of atmosphere in the three-minute penultimate interlude that really distinguish Horsehunter, as well as how smoothly that atmosphere integrates with the pummel in the second half of closer “Witchery,” attention to detail and awareness of the need for more than just sonic weight boding well for future progression.

Horsehunter on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

Church, Unanswered Hymns

church unanswered hymns

A staggeringly heavy debut full-length from Sacramento, CA, five-piece Church, Unanswered Hymns was initially released digitally by the band and quickly picked up for a cassette issue by Transylvanian Tapes and forthcoming LP through Battleground Records. One gets the sense listening to the three extended tracks – 19-minute opener “Dawning” being the longest of the bunch (immediate points) – that those won’t be the last versions to come. Psychedelic doom blends seamlessly with vicious sludge extremity, creating a morass engulfing in its tones, spacious in its breadth and unrepentantly heavy, making it one of 2015’s best debut releases, hands down, and a glorious revelry in bleak tectonics that challenges the listener to match its level of melancholy without giving into an impulse for post-Pallbearer emotive theatrics. As thrilling as they are plodding, expect the echoes of “Dawning,” “Stargazer” and “Offering” to resonate for some time to come, and should Church show any predilection for touring in the next couple years, they have the potential to make a genuine impact on American doom. Yes, I mean it.

Church on Thee Facebooks

Transylvanian Tapes

Battleground Records

Corpse Light, Without Form

corpse light without form

Recorded in a day and released by Grimoire Records, the four-track Without Form is slated as the debut from Baltimore atmospheric doomers Corpse Light, but the band have had tracks come out in drips and drabs since getting their start as Ophidian in mid-2012, even if this is their first proper release. Either way, “The Fool” sets up an immediate and grim ambience, the churning lurch from guitarists Keiran Holmes and Don Selner and bassist Aurora Raiten set to roll by Lawrence Grimes (The Osedax) and given earthy aggression by the vocals of Jim Webb. “Lying in State” fleshes out these morose aggro vibes, but it’s with the drop-everything-and-kill peak of the subsequent “R Complex” that Corpse Light hit their angriest mark. If Without Form was just about that, it would be the highlight, but the album’s 29 minutes have more to offer than pissed off tonally-weighted post-hardcore, as closer “Kenophobia”’s clever turns and deceptive forward momentum demonstrate, though a touch of that kind of thing never hurts either.

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Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Sunder, Demo

sunder demo

Heavy psych four-piece Sunder will make their debut this summer through Tee Pee and Crusher Records with a 7” for “Cursed Wolf,” so consider this notice of the tracks on their not-for-public-consumption demo a heads up on things to come. Their “Deadly Flower” was streamed here this past April, and the band’s previous incarnation, The Socks, released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone in 2014, but with songs like the key-laced stomper “Bleeding Trees,” the ‘70s rusher “Against the Grain,” and the Uncle Acid-style swinging “Daughter of the Snows,” the Lyon, France, outfit continue to refine a style drawing together different vibes of the psychedelic era. “Deadly Flower” was also distinguished by its key work, and as for “Cursed Wolf” itself, the melody reminds of proto-psych Beatles singles (thinking “Rain” specifically), but the groove still holds firm to a sense of weight that’s thoroughly modern, and by that I mean it sounds like 1972. Keep an eye out.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

T-Tops, T-Tops

t-tops t-tops

Granted not everyone is going to make this immediate association, but when I first saw the moniker T-Tops, I couldn’t help think of like C-grade generic stonerisms, songs about beer and pretending to be from the South and all that. If you experienced something similar in seeing the name, rest easy. The Pittsburgh trio of guitarist/vocalist Pat Waters (ex-The Fitt, Wormrigg), bassist Jason Orr (Wormrigg) and drummer Jason Jouver (ex-Don Caballero) are down with far more sinister punk and noise on their self-titled, self-released debut full-length, riding, shooting straight and speaking truth on cuts like “Wipe Down” and the catchy “Pretty on a Girl” after the tense sampling of “A Certain Cordial Exhilaration” turns over the power-push to “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.” “Ralphie” is probably an inside-joke if not a Christmas Story reference, but point is these guys are way less about-to-sing-about-muscle-cars than the name implies and their tight, crisp rhythmic turns come accompanied by vicious tonal force and an utter lack of bullshit, which is a scenario far preferable to that which one might otherwise expect.

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T-Tops on Bandcamp

The Space Merchants, The Space Merchants

the space merchants the space merchants

Issued by Aqulamb in the imprint’s standard 100-page art book/download format, the self-titled debut from fellow Brooklynites The Space Merchants seeks to draw a line between psychedelic rock and country. And not pretend country like people with a Johnny Cash fetish because he covered that Nine Inch Nails song one time – actual, bright, pastoral, classic country. Call the results psychtwang and applaud the effort, which works oddly well in a thoroughly vintage context to come across on “Mainline the Sun” like something from a lost ‘60s variety show. Parts of “One Cut Like the Moon” and the later fuzz of “One Thousand Years of Boredom” give away their modernity, but The Space Merchants’ push toward a stylistic niche suits them well, and the intertwined vocal arrangements from guitarist Michael Guggino, bassist Aileen Brophy and keyboardist Ani MonteleoneCarter Logan drums to round out the four-piece – add to the rich, welcoming feel that remains prevalent even as the eight-minute “Where’s the Rest of Life” slips into wah-soaked noise to finish out.

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Aqualamb on Bandcamp

Etiolated, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies

etoliated grey limbs grey skies

The undercurrent of black metal coursing beneath the surface of Etiolated’s debut full-length, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies, eventually comes to the surface in 10-minute opener “Internal Abyss” and 16-minute eponymous closer, which bookends, but in part it’s the tension of waiting for those rampaging surges that keeps one hooked to the Armus Productions release. Guttural death growls echo up from dense tonal reaches, and tempo shifts, whether in those longer tracks or three-minute lumbering slice “Futility” are fluid, the North Carolina five-piece executing a slow-grinding chug in centerpiece “Exsanguinate,” which seems like a murk without end until the 1:47 “For Your Hell” kicks into a speedier, more blackened rush, guest vocalist Ryan McCarthy joining guitarist/vocalists James Storelli and Walls, bassist Cody Rogers and drummer Elliot Thompson in furthering the already prevalent sense of extremism before “Etiolated,” after a surprisingly peaceful if brooding midsection, plods the album to a close. To say “not for the faint of heart” would be putting it lightly, but if I had a vest and if Etiolated had patches, the two parties would definitely meet up at some point in the near future.

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Armus Productions on Bandcamp

Blown Out, Planetary Engineering

blown out planetary engineering

It has not taken long for the discography of UK psych jammers Blown Out to become a populated murky cosmos of its own. Planetary Engineering is released on Oaken Palace Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist Mike Vest (also Bong, etc.), bassist John-Michael Hedley (also Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) and drummer Matt Baty (also the head of Box Records) exploring two mesmeric and sprawling instrumentals – one per side – that bend and flourish and hypnotize in organically-concocted swirl. Side A’s “Transcending Deep Infinity” tops 20 minutes and shifts from its spacey build to a low key groove at about 7:30 in, pulsing forward once more amid head-turning repetition, deep echoes and longform nod, culminating in a two-minute fadeout that brings forward “Thousand Years in the Sunshine,” an immediate bass groove and interstellar swirl no less trance-inducing than its predecessor. Cyclical drum fills morph over time behind the guitar and bass, and Planetary Engineering seems to push continually further out until, of course, it disintegrates, presumably as it crosses the galactic barrier.

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Oaken Palace Records on Bandcamp

Les Discrets, Live at Roadburn

les discrets live at roadburn

I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at Het Patronaat in Tilburg when French post-black metallers Les Discrets took the stage at Roadburn 2013. As such, it’s with some trepidation I approach their Live at Roadburn recording on Prophecy Productions – the impression they made live wasn’t something I’d want potentially spoiled or brought to earth by a document proving it was just another set. With Neige of Alcest on bass with guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets proved to be something really special to those who, like me, were there to catch them, and the eight-track Live at Roadburn – fortunately – captures both the majestic lushness they brought with them and the underlying weight that seemed to add impact to the material. What might sound like post-production mixing on “L’Echappée” or the wash of “Chanson D’Automne” isn’t – it really was that beautiful and that perfectly balanced coming from the stage. A vastly underrated act and a document that reminds of how stellar they were without sullying the memory in the slightest.

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Prophecy Productions

Beast Modulus, Beast Modulus

beast-modulus-beast-modulus

Brooklynite foursome Beast Modulus seem to care less about meshing with ideas of genre than sticking them in a meatgrinder and seeing what comes out. To wit the riotous chugging of “Cowboy Caligula,” and the blackened thrust of “WaSaBi!” on their self-released, self-titled outing, which leads to dueling growls and screams on the tonally weighted post-hardcore “Fabulous,” and the appropriately mathy turns of the thrashing “Tyranny of Numbers.” Inventive in their stylizations and in where the six songs included on the release actually go – hint: they go to “heavy” – the lineup of vocalist Kurt Applegate, guitarist Owen Burley, bassist Jesse Adelson and drummer Jody Smith have some post-Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the calculated chaos of “Kalashnikov,” but closer “Killing Champion” is too impatient to even be held by that, the prevailing manic angularity of Beast Modulus ultimately crafting its own identity from the physical assault the music seems intent on perpetrating upon the listener.

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Beast Modulus on Bandcamp

 

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Demon Eye to Release Tempora Infernalia May 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

demon eye

North Carolinian cult-themed heavy four-piece Demon Eye are gearing up to release their second album, Tempora Infernalia, May 8 on Soulseller Records. The new record follows pretty quickly on the heels of early-2014’s debut, Leave the Light (review here), which was well received for its classic influences and catchy songwriting, cuts like “Fires of Abalam” and “From Beyond” immediately resonant in their riff-led hooks. As much of Leave the Light garnered its material from Demon Eye‘s prior demo/EP, 2013’s Shades of Black, this will mark their first long-player comprised of completely new songs. The debut wanted nothing for flow between its tracks, but it should be interesting to hear what Demon Eye have come up with this time around as they offer a bit of darkness to go with springtime.

Album info follows, as posted on their Thee Facebooks. Thanks to Kathleen Johnson for the tip:

demon eye tempora infernalia

DEMON EYE – New album details revealed!

Dark and groovy, loud and heavy – DEMON EYE are back! North Carolina’s occult hard rockers will release their new full-length entitled “Tempora Infernalia” on May 8th through Soulseller Records. The album was recorded and mixed by Alex Maiolo at Seriously Adequate Studio in Carrboro, NC and mastered by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studio in Southern Vermont.

The band’s sophomore release after last year’s highly acclaimed debut, “Leave the Light”, is a blast of wicked riffery and skilled songcraft that conjures apocalyptic visions of a world on the brink of destruction. The end is near, and we welcome its arrival!

Cover artwork (created by John Hitselberger, Raleigh NC)

Tracklist:
1. End Of Days
2. Listen To The Darkness
3. I’ll Be Creeping
4. See The Signs
5. Poison Garden
6. In The World, Not Of It
7. Black Winds
8. Give Up The Ghost
9. Please, Father
10. Sons Of Man

Line-Up:
Erik Sugg – Vocals, Guitars
Larry Burlison – Guitars
Paul Walz,- Bass
Bill Eagen – Drums, Vocals

https://twitter.com/DemonEyeNC
https://www.facebook.com/demoneyenc
http://demoneye.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

Demon Eye, Leave the Light (2014)

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