Demons are a relatively new Virginia band who released their first EP Great Dismal two years ago. Led by Mae’s guitarist Zach Gehring, they have released their first LP Embrace Wolf this month via Spartan Records. Produced entirely by the band, Embrace Wolf was tracked episodically in several locations, including a field-recorded drum session in a railway tunnel. The record also features the addition of guitar player/accompanying vocalist Chris Mathews to the existing lineup of Gehring, Jonathan Anderson (bass), and Drew Orton (drums). “We’ve started behaving more like a band,” states Gehring about this new collaborative.
Embrace Wolf delivers nine heavy, distorted and explosive tracks that knocked me off my chair, literally. Hard rock with a post punk feel, this album was an aural assault and pleasure all at the same time. Opener and instrumental track “Telebrothy” came screeching out at full force, I wasn’t ready for the volume and jumped out of my skin, wow! Crashing drums, sludgy guitars and an almost ticking clock effect made me anxious and excited equally, for what the album had in store. I was not disappointed.
“Always Your Own” (video below) is probably the most catchiest and ear-friendly track off the album, addictive rocking riffs backed by a brash sound, urgent and forceful in nature. Gehring’s lyrics come in fervently, full of angst and self doubt. In contrast to this follows “Wish”; darker and thought provoking, this track builds to a monstrous chorus, seeing Gehring’s haunting cries almost drowned out by a cacophony of sound but the emotion is all there and felt in every word.
The pace gets cranked up again with harsher track “Nobody loves You The way You Are”, spitting vocals and impassioned screams from both Gehring and Mathews are backed by a sludgy, forceful bass. Pent up frustrations are spewed out and I can only imagine this massive number live.
“Dig” is the absolute highlight of this album for me, seven minutes long, it epitomises the whole record and if you could only listen to one track, then this is the one. Dark and heavy in its pursuit and bass driven, it takes you on a journey of bitterness and loss. Growling and desperate vocals fuelled with doom are gradually buried by layering of distorted guitars and lawless drumming, coming to a crescendo of sludgy, deafening noise and screams, then fading to an almost demonic whispered chant, outstanding!
Punky number “Decibel Farmer” comes in at full throttle then relaxes into a more psych rock feel, I love how this band are not afraid to experiment with their sound, it pays off in abundance. Howling guitars lead the way and you hear a Fugazi influence throughout this track. “17:9” is another favourite, full of sludge and grungy to the core it reminds me of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box”.
Depressive “Arranged Marriage” sucks you in and pulls you under like a wanton Siren. Drowning in the gloomy sound and lyrics you almost forget to come up for air, beautiful, deep. Profound “Assured Retribution” does exactly what it says on the tin, sincere lyrically, the heartache and bitterness felt musically. A masterful collision of destructive sounds and guileless words married inexplicably, this album is sublime.
Embrace Wolf is out now.