Danish rockers Demon Head have been around since 2012, putting forth a new full length every other year since 2015. The band’s upcoming third album Hellfire Ocean Void consists mostly of rock ‘n roll roots glossed with acoustics, keys, and a haunting production. Darker chord progressions push this disc into doom metal territory, making it heavily reflective of the scene in the ‘70s.
Thanks to the analog recording styles and the odd choices of instrumentation, there is a medieval feel to this album that makes it not only dark in content but gives off a feeling of a literal absence of light. Ancient keyboard settings in songs like “A Flaming Sea” cater heavily to the atmosphere already established by the production, and acoustic guitars make their way into almost every track. Slower doom riffs back all of this to give it some level of heaviness, keeping it from wandering too far into the dark ages. On the other hand, shifts to up-tempo rock rhythms bring on a majestic feeling.
This all sounds pretty straightforward, but Hellfire Ocean Void was definitely built for a specific ear. The vocal style here is extremely unique and quite tough to adapt to. Almost all of it is done in a chanting-like style with operatic feels, only with a higher sense of melody. Fusing these with the darkened instrumentation makes things a bit too organic, with ideas running together a lot. Longer tracks like “Strange Eggs” wind up going off into tangents that overstay their welcome, ultimately making it even more difficult to digest.
Demon Head clearly have a lot of musical knowledge, but they cake on the darker elements a bit too much. Rest assured, I don’t mean dark as in sinister or morbid; I mean dark like it paints nothing but dark images in your head, like before we had electricity. The vocals are also so hard to get by that even multiple listens couldn’t help them settle into the mix. There is a specific type of person that would dig this, but I’m not one of them.