I love doom more than anything, but it’s really hard to do well – and deceptively so, at that. You’ll need a lot more than a good riff if you want to make a staple of the genre. Crafting good doom metal is a matter of balancing song length and repetition with ever-so-subtle variations in the arrangements, making sure that the music never turns into a tedious crawl. All the legends of stoner doom understand this well, as the great works of Sleep and Electric Wizard are full of intensely rewarding subtleties not apparent on first listen that eventually reveal themselves with repetition and familiarity with the material. There’s so much more that goes into a good doom song besides a throwaway Black Sabbath riff, and this is a lesson that Las Vegas’ Demon Lung should take to heart. I had incredibly high hopes when Jon sent this promo my way, as I’m a huge fan of all cannabinoid-inspired doom metal and any band that names themselves after an Electric Wizard song is always worth checking out in my book. It’s just that Demon Lung don’t add anything new to the genre at all – why listen to this when you could just put on Dopethrone or Holy Mountain again?
It’s not that Pareidolia is bad; it’s a pretty solid release for a debut band. It’s just that there’s not that much of a reason to listen to it. Everyone involved on the release does a solid job on their instruments – the vocals, performed by Shanda Fredrick, are pretty much perfect in terms of doomy delivery – there’s just a few noticeable pitfalls that mar the album’s integrity to a pretty prominent degree. The guitars are up-front, beefy, and sound absolutely fantastic, and in that respect I couldn’t ask for more, but they tend to drown out the rest of the mix. The vocals hardly even rise above the mire, the bass is completely inaudible, and the drums sound like they were played on a set made out of cardboard. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the riffs were good, but they’re pretty mediocre as far as stoner-doom goes. They neither crush, groove, nor boogie, and instead meander around not doing that much. When the guitarist does see fit to throw in a fill, it’s usually a pinch harmonic – which does not work in doom whatsoever.* If I could hear what else is going on in the mix, I’m sure I’d be able to notice a lot of variances that the drummer and bassist throw in here and there, but as it is with the current mix they may as well be nonexistent.
Time flies when you’re having fun, as the saying goes, and the best doom metal sounds far shorter than it actually is. Dopesmoker is more than an hour long, but it’s so well-constructed and well-paced that it feels far shorter than that. Pareidolia, on the other hand, feels far longer than its 22 minute running time. Doom’s a slog, but it should be an enjoyable slog. As a young band, Demon Lung has a lot of room to grow from this forgettable debut – here’s to hoping that they’ll learn from their mistakes and craft a slab of doom worth listening to on their next release, and hopefully get it produced by someone who knows what he’s doing.
*We really do not need another Zakk Wylde. One is already too many.
Artist: Demon Lung
Release Date: March 20th, 2012