Album Review Triple-hit: Herod, Demon Head, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard

Always trying to keep on top of the review pile, here’s a trio of shorter pieces covering albums coming your way over the next few weeks…

Herod – Sombre Dessein (15th Feb)

Hailing from Switzerland, Herod are heavier than the recent Alpine snowfall and far darker. Only four years old as a band and they get Bill Steer doing guest guitars – they must be doing something right.

With prog elements, but in a far heavier environment, Herod create a doomy atmosphere which will have your toe tapping and your head nodding slowly. This isn’t fast by any means, but it still manages to grab you. To quote the band, “The concept of the album is about the end of our Judaeo-Christian and thermo-industrial civilisation.” So, yeah… Happy times. Bilingual lyrics aren’t common, either, so again we have more originality.

Sombre Dessein certainly isn’t easy listening, but it is easy to listen to. It’s complex, scary and hell-bent on making your life miserable. But at the same time you just can’t help punishing your psyche with another listen.

Top track is the epic “Mourning Grounds”, the heaviest of the heavy.

Herod: facebook

Demon Head – Hellfire Ocean Void (Feb 22nd)

Well, this is something different. As the album title may suggest, Hellfire Ocean Void isn’t exactly a cheerful number but it’s also not a massive, heavy, crunching metal release. Owing more to the likes of The Cure and Joy Division (and maybe even Soft Cell), they have a definite goth/new wave edge to their sound.

Vocals echo and wail, overlying the classic rock lineup with the addition – here and there – of pianos, and some tape manipulations. It’s these little extras that make Demon Head stand out and they do add to the otherwise fairly generic sound.

This isn’t music that crowds would go wild to. It’s more the sort where said crowd would shuffle and stare at the floor while balefully considering the purpose of man in this wholly pointless sphere of existence. Before applauding and doing the same for the next track.

“In The Hour of the Wolf” is about as upbeat as it gets, but the band are definitely best with the more despondent material. “Death’s Solitude” takes a while to get going, but builds into something quite off-kilter and unique.

Demon Head: facebook

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn (March 1st)

With a name like Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, it’s no surprise that this is a bit of a hippy trip space rock album… But it’s also so much more. It’s fuzzy, it’s damn heavy in places and it constantly throws surprises in your way.

When the first main track (post-intro), “The Spaceships of Ezekiel” kicked in with its massive down-tuned bass sounds, I was suitably impressed. The head nods, the eyes close, and you start to soak it up… And then the lightest female vocals begin to breeze over the lead-heavy tones. The contrast is amazing, and works incredibly well. I’m so used to the more metal bands who’d have a female vocalist throwing raw, harsh vocals around.

Zappy keyboard sounds are, of course, present in droves. It’s just unusual to hear them paired with such huge bass tones and grungy guitars. For my money, I’d pick “Katyusha” as the best on the album purely as it’s so damn heavy.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard: facebook

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