Review: Demon Bitch – Hellfriends
The cult flame of heavy metal burns on brightly in the night, and Demon Bitch burn brighter than the rest. It’s been a couple years now since Hellfriends came out and annihilated the world, and now that I’ve had the time to reflect on it, I can understand a bit more why it floored me so heavily when I first heard it. Though I wasn’t familiar with Demon Bitch until a couple weeks after Hellfriends came out, they’ve been doing what they do for years now, and buddies have been ranting about them for that entire time. Passionate, clever, and often outright bizarre, Demon Bitch accomplish everything that the hordes of modern bands trying to find their own niche wish they could by creating memorable, catchy, and insanely riffy heavy metal journeys with each song.
Hellfriends has a core sound that could be loosely described as United States Power Metal, but that’s not nearly enough to really describe what the band does. You could find any number of riffs individually that fit an individual mold, whether that be to compare them to Helstar or Mercyful Fate or what have you, but they just don’t stick around at a time for long enough to let you make up your mind on what they’re really doing; frantic speed metal will suddenly turn into emotional dual leads, or a galloping epic section will race into and out of two or three moods faster than you can blink. The one constant is the sexy and somewhat neoclassical solos constantly jumping in and out of each song, sometimes tying in with devastating dual leads that help bridge the bizarre song structures that Demon Bitch are fond of.
Despite those constant solos and leads, Demon Bitch aren’t afraid to let some time pass with a simpler section where it’s appropriate, or to dial in the solos even more to have a long and insane section of mind blowing (and gorgeous!) musicianship. Much moreso than their actual instrumental talent, the songwriting is the glue that holds this one together; far from being riff-salad, each song feels incredibly deliberate, with a sense of movement that’s as natural as it is killer at each point. Fluid drum changes solidify that feeling of graceful progression, leading to an end result that doesn’t sound nearly as strange as it really is, once you get used to it.
Another point of mention is the frenzied singing of frontman Logon, who prefers to avoid things like predictable vocal lines, obvious choruses, or sanity. His vocal approach is as absolutely maniacal and ferocious as it gets, ranging in seconds from wild, warbly screams to odd crooning and back in a way that suits the chaotic nature of the music such that I believe nobody else out there would fit half as well. Logon matches the craziness of Demon Bitch punch for punch, and the end result- this marriage of these many perfect meetings of musicians- is what makes Demon Bitch possibly my favorite active band in heavy metal right now.
Though I’ve talked a lot about the actual music, I haven’t talked about how it sounds. If I’m remembering correctly, Matt Preston (Dungeon Beast, The Swill) basically moved into the band’s basement for a month to record the album. The result is definitely something that sounds like it was recorded in a basement; raw, old, sometimes a little thin, and sounding just like how you’d want it to, basically. Demon Bitch isn’t a band that’s meant for hi-fi pro recordings and though I’m sure they’d dazzle if that’s what they wanted, the old dungeon vibes that they have are infinitely more charming and suited to the Detroit city madness that Demon Bitch present here. Similarly, the artwork was painted by Logon rather than by some professional hired by the band, and once again, it suits the music better than anything else would have, so what’s not to love?
Demon Bitch may not be perfect, but they’re as close to it as any modern heavy metal that I’ve heard, and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. They are also excellent live and I want them to come back to Los Angeles as soon as is possible.