"The primary motive for how we write, for how we perform, is to evoke or exaggerate some sort of collision." This is Demons. Forces of equal magnitude uniting, reacting, and detonating. Some Newton's-Third-Law type shit. In the band's brief tenure, this is what we've come to expect. Pounding drums, erratic riffs, fervent lyrics, and structure descending into abstraction. The sum of these parts is difficult to classify with any direct comparison. Shellac? Queens of the Stone Age? David Bazan? Melvins? While sonic or attitudinal traces may exist, Demons remains derivative of nothing.
Following the release of the band's seminal EP, Great Dismal, Demons returns with their debut full-length, Embrace Wolf — nine blistering songs exploring a spectrum of anxiety, aberrations, and awe with deliberate recklessness. "Musically, we just wanted to be our own form of unbridled," says vocalist/guitarist Zach Gehring (also of Virginia-based Mae acclaim), up until this point, we've kept to this sonic austerity pretty straight forward, energetic, and almost off the rails."
Produced entirely by the band, Embrace Wolf was tracked episodically in several locations, including a field-recorded drum session in a railroad tunnel. The record also features the addition of guitar player/accompanying vocalist Chris Mathews to the existing lineup of Gehring, Jonathan Anderson (bass), and Drew Orton (drums) which allowed the process to become fully collaborative. "[This time around] we've started behaving more like a band (i.e. a creative group), and we wanted to explore this dynamic more," says Gehring. "We knew we all wanted to be loud, and we wanted our instruments to work together by filling in gaps with a high degree of awareness of one another."
Lyrically, Embrace Wolf centers thematically on prepositions of guilt, disguises, impatience, and exhaustion. "My writing is still self absorbed, a lot of first person focus because it's still all I really know how to write about. We all have our blind spots, and I only feel comfortable calling out my own," says Gehring. As the tracklist progresses through Embrace Wolf, Gehring broods over growing resentment, facaded truth, suppression, misrepresentation, fragile relationships, and honesty versus the truth. While not always an easy listen, the cathartic self-analysis present in both the record's lyrical content and vocal delivery feels earnest and absolute.
We are all haunted by something, be it tangible, imaginary, wild, or within, and we are faced with only two choices — exorcism or embracement. Sometimes one is essential in enabling the other. While this process remains ultimately unique to our own ailments, both solace and commiseration can often be found simply by pressing play. Come Embrace Wolf with Demons, this fall on Spartan Records.
Demons - "Great Dismal" EPJune 16, 2015