USPM from Michigan
Every once in a while a new band comes along that just makes me go “wow, what the hell did I just hear?” Sometime late in 2014 a friend reached out to me with a band that I absolutely NEEDED to check out: Demon Bitch. At this point in my life I was almost entirely disconnected from the metal scene in ways that I normally wasn’t. I was focused on my studies and personal life so my voracity for discovering new music went to the wayside as I worked to improve myself. I queued up Demon Bitch’s Death is Hanging… EP at my friend’s request and I was blown away by what I was listening to – “wow, what the hell did I just hear?”.
Demon Bitch ended up releasing their debut album, Hellfriends, almost exactly two years after that. Considering how amazing the previous release was, I made it a point to listen to Hellfriends as soon as possible and it was what I hoped for and more. Everything that I loved about the EP was built upon and improved for Demon Bitch’s debut. It’s been another two years since the release of Hellfriends and I still haven’t been able to get over just how good the album is – I even created this new category of reviews just to talk about it!
What makes Demon Bitch so special is their approach to music. Their core sound is rooted in the darker, more occult side of traditional metal and bears strong resemblance to early Mercyful Fate. Demon Bitch latch onto that Merycful Fate blueprint and incorporate elements of United States style power metal to create their own unholy blend. Above all, Demon Bitch have the single most important element in metal – killer riffs.
From the very first moments of “Warning from the Skies” it becomes apparent that we’re in for a wild ride – thirty five minutes of virtually non-stop riffing action. “D.B. Cooper” and “Lord Mars” are masters of the axe and favor a fast paced, non-stop melody approach – there certainly is no shortage of memorable licks here. Hellfriends is one of those rare albums where each song is so very distinct but still manages to flow into each other flawlessly and this is in large part thanks to the varied song structures. Each song has a staggering number of riffs, vocal melodies, bass/drum sections, and complexities without ever falling into the trap of technicality for the sake of it. While the guitars are undoubtedly the highlight for me, the rest of the instrumentation certainly doesn’t slouch at all. The tasteful drums and powerful, punchy bass work overtime to accent and support the flurry of riffs.
Passionate. Unfettered. Frantic. “Logon Saton’s” vocals are all of the preceding and then some. Like with most great vocalists, Saton is extremely unique and operates his own way. He tends to favor a higher pitched vocal delivery although they’re not quite as high as say King Diamond. What is striking the most about Saton is the extreme amount of vocal vibrato that he utilizes. I’ve heard complaints that he isn’t quite in tune, but you don’t really feel it since the man doesn’t hold a single damn note for very long. Saton’s vocal approach is very unconventional, but it is essential in crafting Demon Bitch’s distinct sound. I couldn’t imagine anyone else could possibly match Demom Bitch’s manic instrumentation the same way that Logon Saton’s impassioned vocals do.
Given their USPM-influenced sound, Demon Bitch have at times been outright labeled a power metal band. While this is an appropriate label, it has at times caused a misalignment of expectations. I’ve seen individuals go all in with the expectation that they’re another upbeat, nuclear-blasted metal band and that’s just not the case here at all. As mentioned previously, Logon’s vocals are anything but clean and conventional. Combined with an old-school warm and murky production, it makes for an uninviting album for fans of the squeaky clean brand of power metal. Hellfriends is extraordinary, but it’s important to approach it with the right state of mind.
Demon Bitch’s debut album was released in 2016 – a standout year with dozens and dozens of high caliber traditional metal albums. Even in a sea of quality releases, Hellfriends is a demonstration of the dark and powerful that stands alone above the rest. It isn’t just a strong modern album either; Hellfriends is shoulder to shoulder with the classics that we grew up with. Demon Bitch are an exemplary band and we can only hope that their contributions thus far are only the beginnings of a long and prosperous career.
Album Rating: 96/100
Favorite Track: Beneath the Ice Caves