The beautiful artwork adorning the new record from Finland’s Demonic Death Judge gives you a little taste of the mountainous groove contained within. The Trail may come from frozen northern shores, but it aches with a Deep South groove that is very satisfying. I have previously enjoyed Demonic Death Judge‘s work, particularly the predecessor to this, Seaweed and is out now through Suicide Records.
The ghostly, country acoustics of the opener Cougar Charmer give a very Appalachian mountain feel, something that remains in the melodies throughout this record. The bluesy Filthy As Charged is brilliantly addictive, as is the hardened sludgy doom of Hardship. The guitar tone is thick and cumbersome, dredging the rivers of groove to find some great licks deep in the endless mud. The vocals are harsh and raw, something that works well against the chunky swagger of a song like Shapeshifting Serpents, which also contains some of my favourite more tripped out sections of the record.
The guitar tone is thick and cumbersome, dredging the rivers of groove to find some great licks deep in the endless mud…
Modern sludge comes across as kind of soulless at times; trapped in an endless cycle of EyeHateGod riffs and nihilistic screaming misery. And that is all well and good but sometimes you need something to feel a little bit, I don’t know, optimistic? Feel good? Parts of The Trail almost do, like the rising melody of Flood that leads into a righteous blues groove. Something like that is really hard to feel grim about. It makes you want to bang your head epically slow. The psychedelic wanderings of Fountain Of Acid lead into a reprise of the opener, which feels even more beautiful now.
By the time the glorious rumble of the title track lumbers into the closing, incredible groove of We Have To Kill, the infectious riffing and melodies have wormed their way into your brain and will not leave. The Trail is a record designed to be appreciated multiple times; the insidious nature of the song writing becoming more and more apparent with each listen.
Demonic Death Judge are a band I initially had preconceptions about because of that kinda awkward band name. They’ve proven to me that they are essential listening.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson