With the average time span between album releases being somewhere between three and four years these days, it’s kind of thrilling when a favorite new band follows up their debut with another album in just a year. You’d think it would make sense for more bands influenced by the 70s era of rock, when giants roamed the earth, dropping albums every year or less. Back then it was the strategy of labels big and small to regularly have fresh music to promote with each tour. It’s a different economic model now, which makes it such a treat when a band like Demon Eye can duplicate that kind of pace on a much smaller budget.
Like a lot of bands working in the sub-genres of retro/occult rock, heavy psych and proto-metal/doom, the members of Demon Eye don’t make a living solely from their music, but rather split their time between multiple jobs and bands. Leader Erik Sugg is a children’s librarian in Raleigh, NC, plays music for kids in Mr. Erik’s Storytime, spins soul records, writes for Occult Rock and Sludgelord, and has also played in Corvette Summer. Sugg is clearly a devoted student of the riff, and while Deep Purple (who’s “Demon Eye” inspired the band’s name), early Black Sabbath and Pentagram are key touchstones to their brand of proto-metal, there’s a colorful, monstrous menagerie lurking beneath the surface. Intelligent, thoughtful songwriting with interesting structures just shy of prog tell engaging sinister stories that hold up well with repeated listens. Tempora Infernalia is a continuation of their sound established on Leave The Light, loaded with some of their most memorable, catchy tracks like “I’ll Be Creeping” (no it’s not a cover of the classic Free song) “End of Days,” “In The World, Not Of It” and “Black Winds.” In addition to great riffs, they benefit from some memorable vocal melodies, which is relatively rare in these genres. “Poison Garden” seems to be a respectful nod to one of their contemporary inspirations, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, while retaining their own sound, and some great Iommi style soloing. Another slight detour from the course is the watery psychedelic meditation, “Please, Father.”
It seems like yesterday when Witchcraft released their first two albums in 2004-05, and the underground proto-doom fans went nuts for more. Since then it’s developed into quite an avalanche of new bands treading this territory. Among the mediocre to great albums, Demon Eye stand out as genre leaders, particularly when some of the older, established bands are missing in action. Not just a studio project, they haven’t toured heavily, but it’s well worth a roadtrip to catch them on one of their mini-tours, because they’re absolutely mesmerizing live. | Buy