Friday, 13 June 2014

REVIEW: Demoni - Day of Demoni/Night of Demoni

Demoni is a psychobilly/horror surf band from Boise, Idaho... where there are a lot of psycho hillbillies and no beaches to surf. Don't let this deter you from checking them out, though. These guys do a lot right.

I'm, personally, not a big psychobilly fan. However, there's something different about Demoni. Their knack for throwing in instrumental surf, along with actually knowing how to play their instruments, rather than learning tricks for live shows helps set them apart from the droves of similar bands.

Rather than having an overly-raspy vocal approach, singer Andy Agenbroad has a somewhat soothing voice for the genre. This invites you in and makes you feel comfortable. Just when you're feeling at ease, the lyrics catch you for the slaughter. With every song being horror-based, those smooth vocals are only masking the killer hidden in the lyrics.

The choruses in Demoni's songs are so straight forward and catchy that you're singing along the second time they comes around. It really doesn't matter if you've seen the movie the song is about or not, the lyrics roll off your tongue without thinking.

The band tours somewhat regularly and, having seen them live, I highly suggest you see them if given the chance. They've played multiple dates with the reigning kings of horror rock, Calabrese, and slayed the crowds.

First, I'll touch on Day of Demoni.

This album was the second full length released from the band (initially released in 2011), but the first with a steady lineup. While the band was still in it's early stages, the members have played for a long time and know how to put a song together. It's evident from beginning to end that this band is up there with some of the premier horror rock bands out there.

This album was initially a vinyl-only release out on P.I.G. Records, but thanks to the UK's Graveyard Calling Records, it will see a cassette release in August, as well. This should be a great introduction to a new audience who will most-likely welcome Demoni with open arms.

At first, the guitar seems maybe a little low or "small" in the mix. With every listen, this is what I think at the beginning. However, as the album goes on, it feels just right. All those killer surf riffs are really perfect for defining the overall sound of Demoni. The standup bass has that clicky sound that is predominant in rockabilly/psychobilly stuff. However, the bass, itself, is heard rather than just those clicks. It really helps bring out the quality of Evil Ethan's bass playing. And let's not forget Cody Casket's drumming. It's right on the whole way. Elements of punk rock in the surf songs and those of surf in the psychobilly stuff really puts these guys on a pedestal. It's hard to find stand out tracks since every song is great. I will say that I'm a sucker for an Ed Gein song, though. So, when "No Pain No Gein" came on, I was definitely excited. Great storytelling in the lyrics coupled with Agenbroad's vocal style really bring it all together.

"They Crawl" and "Night of the Creeps" are fun tracks that will have you chanting along in no time. They're just so damn catchy. I, also, can't skip on mentioning the lead guitar work in "Laid to Rest". It's the perfect compliment to the song. It's not overly complicated at all but something about it is like a slap in the face saying, "this is what it's all about!"

"Beware the Moon" is a great tribute to one of the best werewolf movies of all time, An American Werewolf in London. The pace is steady and the lyrics urging to "stay on the track and don't turn your back" are engrained in the brain as soon as it's heard.

"Black Lagoon" is a surf masterpiece. The fact that it's obviously an ode my all time favorite creature feature, Creature from the Black Lagoon, doesn't hurt, but this song really does show the influence of The Ventures and Los Straitjackets so well. Everything in this song comes together perfectly.

With songs about A Nightmare on Elm Street, House of 1000 Corpses and a barrage of horror, slasher and creature feature films, there's no reason for any horror fiend to pass on giving this album a fair shot. The surf intertwined really helps break any monotony that you may be feeling when listening, though every song really is just a blast to listen to.

7.5 out of 10 skulls

Now, on to Night of Demoni...

This album doesn't have a release date yet. The band is currently in talks with a handful of labels you've probably heard of for it's release, though.

From a recording standpoint, this album is just about flawless. The overly-clicky sound that comes standard with rockabilly/psychobilly recordings is more subtle on this album. This is a welcome change of pace to me. It also makes it even easier to hear just how good Evil Ethan really is at playing this standup bass.

The lead off track, "Are You Scared?", is a great way to open this album. It's also the single that you may here on some of the better independent horror and rock radio stations and podcasts out there. The blistering guitar and smooth vocals cut like a knife in this one.

Overall, this album is deeper than the others. Not like "sellout" deeper. It just shows off different sides of the band. Case in point, "Martyrs". This song is a slower, brooding, moody song. And it's awesome. One of the best songs Demoni has ever put out. If you're not singing "what did I do wrong?" when you listen to this and think you might want to hit the back button to listen again, there might be something wrong with you... and not in a good way.

Something else that stands out here is "They Live", aptly named after the movie. To my recollection, I haven't heard a song based on the movie before. More horror themed bands should follow suit. This is a rockin' surf song about one of the most kick ass movies ever. The only lyrics are "Eat, Consume, Obey!" What more does it need? Nothing at all. That says it all.

I know what you're thinking; "...but do they have a song about Halloween?" Well, of course, they do. "The Beast Within" is a killer rockabilly song that sort of stalks then bursts with musical fury, much like Michael Myers with his beloved blade.

The bite of the guitar in the main riff of "Black Nails", the brilliance of the chorus on "Girl in the Bathroom", the sludgy surf stylings of "He Never Came Back"... this really is just the top of the iceberg but I can't just go on forever here. Day of Demoni put the band on par with The Koffin Kats, The Nekromantix and Mad Sin, but Night of Demoni is a work that surpasses anything I've heard from similar bands.

8.5 out of 10 skulls

Day of Demoni is available from:

Reviewed by Chris Cavoretto