Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Demons - Embrace Wolf


Reviewing the latest offering from Norfolk, VA's Demons becomes an exercise in adjectives and synonyms for the words: Pummeling. Punishing. Brazen. Crushing.
To start this off properly, let's just say that Demons released an EP (with Spartan Records) that goes by the name of The Great Dismal. I liked it, okay? It was SUPER good. I mean, it had a lot of things going on trapped within a space of just six songs. Lots of influences would poke their heads out and sniff the air a little, only to retreat back into their cozy little holes. The whole thing was worth repeat listens just because of all the little bits and pieces you could lasso from it. I knew the band was still gravitating toward a sound they had already conquered, but didn't quite know the scope of their ascension.

Embrace Wolf comes out of nowhere, making mincemeat out of your face. It has this crazy old school post hardcore feel to it, but swings a nail bat full of noise rock screeching. Like AmRep and Touch And Go bands getting into a gang fight, but then agreeing to make noises in the night.
The album starts with the instrumental (telebrothy), setting the pace for the roller coaster we're about to get on.
"Always Your Own" grabs you by the collar and shakes you around with some heavy down-tuned riffs and a sneering hardcore attitude. I'm feeling the effects of fingers pointed as hard as they can.
"wish" kicks in with some drums played in your backyard.  Mid-paced, laced with darkness and a finger pointed so hard, it makes your own hand hurt.
"Nobody Loves You The Way You Are" makes me feel like I'm in the early days of "post-hardcore", "noise rock"... like I said: AmRep/Touch And Go feelies. The guitar pierces through the veil of sound like a syringe full of early '90s. This is not to say they are derivative... not in the slightest. These tunes are fresh and clean. They feel like songs you needed to hear NOW.
"Dig" clocks you in the jaw with a slow-cooker full of meanness. The howled vocals induce gooseflesh, while making you want to cower in a corner. Unconventional, twisty-turny riffs churn away in search of the next skull for trepanation.
"Decibel Farmer" knows who you are, and it knows where you live. And it also knows how hard it can point the finger, and exactly who it's pointing at. It also gives us our first breath of air after being manhandled throughout the entirety of Side A. We're treated to an interlude, of sorts. But it does not last long.
"17:9" hits hard, fast, and leaves you with finger holes in your face.
"Arranged Marriage" is the most "melodic" of the bunch. But it still has that twisty-riff grime that just won't wash off.
"Assured Retribution"... careful with those riffs, guys. This one makes the whole album. Back when I was hearing snippets of Embrace Wolf in-studio (via FB posts), this riff showed up and reared its head long before I heard the album. I wasn't prepared for that clock-cleaning. So... I dub this one the Nerve Salad personal favorite track from the LP.

Embrace Wolf is a brutal beatdown, but still gives you back the "oomph" to pick yourself up and wipe your bloody nose. You walk away a little wiser, a little tougher, and ready for the next time some band cold-cocks you when you're not looking.

My grandmother always told me not to make faces because it will "stick like that".  I made a few mean faces & scowls while listening to this album, but I think I was so happy to hear it, they never stuck that way. I love you Grandma, but I'm not so sure you were right about that.

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