Demons – Great Dismal

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Demons is the new pet project of Zach Gehring, guitarist for the Virginia based Rock band Mae. With Great Dismal (Spartan), Gehring has experimented with styles that he could not fit into Mae, and the results are phenomenal. Gehring really benefits from the experience of writing and producing records, and the sound quality and composition on this EP are therefore really good. The styles vary a bit, but the grungy guitar sounds and melancholic vocals are omnipresent.

Gehring’s voice is sometimes a little Steven Wilson, and sometimes, especially in ‘Lenora Slaughter’, a lot like Marilyn Manson but with vocal lines more like Corey Taylor. Backing vocals are often just a little off, but not enough to make it annoying. In fact, it ends up being a really cool stylistic effect. The vocal lines are often smooth and mellow over more energetic music, as in opening number ‘There Is No Reward’. This is a very hard rocking song, with nice grungy guitar lines, which could have goon on for a little longer in my opinion.

Gehring shows off his musical versatility on his album, as the laid-back and almost Dark Country feel of ‘Godless Girls’ contrasts with the earlier hard rock. It felt like it could have almost been a song by The Hold Steady. On the surface it seems like a simple song, but the timing of the different elements makes it much more, and when you get to the final chorus it seems to somehow go straight through you.

‘Radical Cure’ is in yet another style, and it is an excellent loud and aggressive song. The riffs and mix are once again really good, and the contrast between the vocals and music just adds so much tension in some places, while they complement each other perfectly in others.

The final song is ‘Quietly Waiting’, and it is worth waiting for. I fell in love with it from the very first notes. The acoustic guitar with clean vocals and piano is so melancholic, so beautiful and touching. This is the longest song on this release, and the popularity of artists like Wino and Conny Ochs indicate that Gehring could easily release an entire album in this style. I would happily listen to an hour of this. My only criticism for this song is that it doesn’t end on a closing tone, but I am willing to forgive that.

All in all, this is an amazing début, and I really enjoyed the experience. It touches on a number of different genres and artists, and excels in each style. Give it a listen, it’s worth it.

 

8.5/10

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LORRAINE LYSEN

Wino And Conny Ochs – Freedom Conspiracy

Wino-Conny-Ochs_Freedom-Conspiracy

Robert Scott “Wino” Weinrich is the front man for the Doom Metal bands The Obsessed and Saint Vitus, Conny Ochs is a Dark Folk musician, and together they make minimalist bluesy folk. In 2012 they released Heavy Kingdom, and now they came together once again to produce Freedom Conspiracy (both Exile On Mainstream).

While Heavy Kingdom was really raw and unpolished, which had its charms but also lacked in places, Freedom Conspiracy is much more polished. This does not mean they have lost their feeling though. The songs are still simple and effective despite being more complex musically. Many songs on this album combine electric guitar with an acoustic, and the electric sound is sometimes really sludgy. In the title track ‘Freedom Conspiracy’ the electric guitar plays almost the same lines as the acoustic, which creates a very deep sound. Interestingly, the guitar in the verse sounds a lot like ‘The Mirror Song’ by Live.

The vocals also have a layer of distortion over them at times, which lends some power to the melancholic lyrics and melodies. I really enjoy the bluesy aspects of this album, such as the slide guitar in ‘Shards’. A real highlight is ‘Foundation Chaos’, which is a blues in 7/8ths in the verses and 4/4ths in the chorus, and as such it has such an unusual groove. ‘Invisible Bullets’ is also a very interesting song, the chords and melodies go in places that you don’t expect, and the chords and solo on electric coupled with primarily high vocals really sets this song apart from the rest from the album. It sounds a little bit messy in places, like they had not played it through a lot before recording it, but it is definitely one of my favourites. The album ends with another melancholic yet sweet song, ‘The Great Destroyer’. It is a great closer for this album about love, loss, and dealing with being human, and leaves you with a kind of quiet happiness, as if you grew just a little as a person by listening.

 

7.5/10

“Wino” on Facebook

Conny Ochs on Facebook

 

LORRAINE LYSEN