Demon Lung unearth classic horror film to inspire death, possession on killer ‘A Dracula’

Demon LungHorror and evil are perfect settings for heavy metal. They all belong together—do they not?—and when they’re perfectly mixed, it can make for a thrilling record and a band you won’t soon forget. Horror cinema also plays a major part in this, as it has been celebrated the genre over, and a record that soon will find its way into your hands is the latest in a long line to be moved by film.

Demon Lung debuted in 2013 with their excellent first album “The Hundredth Name,” a collection of occult-inspired doom that was huge, laced with evil, and glorious. Now, the Las Vegas-based quartet return with their smoking sophomore platter “A Dracula,” a record inspired by and based on the 1978 Mexican cult film “Alucarda.” The film, thought to be based on an 1872 novella, follows two young girls living in a convent who go on to summon evil after meeting a band of gypsies and are possessed by Satanic forces looking to destroy the place with blood and fire. Taking a storyline such as that seems to be just ideal for a band such as Demon Lung, and they wring that story line for every drip of darkness on this eight-track record that is blisteringly fun but also richly mind-altering, like you’re being beaten alive as drugs paralyze your system.

Demon Lung coverOut front is vocalist Shanda Fredrick, who took the film’s plot points and devised the record’s story. Aside from her masterful interpretation of this evil tale are her powerful, intoxicating vocals. She could sing you into a trance without you even realizing it, and her vocals are some of the finest, most fitting in all of doom metal. Along with her in Demon Lung are guitarist Phillip Burns, bassist Patrick Warren, and drummer Jeremy Brenton. This unit, when combining all of their major forces, create a sound that could find favor among fans of Electric Wizard, Witchsorrow, Black Sabbath, and Windhand, and it’s clear they possess the musical imagination to keep creating tantalizing worlds like this record.

“Rursumque Alucarda” begins the journey, spreading acoustic strains and rather rustic sounds over this brief intro. It eventually swells and spills right into “Behold the Daughter,” a ripping, clobbering piece that breathes life into the title character and puts your brain in the proper headspace. The vocals swarm and bubble, with the music offering dense macabre and eventually a sludgy mid-section. The end of the song takes on a ritualistic feel, as Fredrick howls, “The end begins,” while the body of this thing trickles out. “I Am Haunted” has a thrashy stance, with Fredrick prompting, “Would you die for me?” as the riffs get massive and the tempo hits the mud. The song goes back and forth teasing all-out destruction before pulling back, and when Fredrick insists, “We will die together,” in the song’s closing sequences, the ball rolling downhill toward death is pushed. “Gypsy Curse” finds the two girls possessed, and the song crunches with Sabbath-style guitar work, mauling intensity, and muddy melodies that cake your face and leave you gasping for air. “Bow down before your god,” Fredrick taunts, as the track gives way to a cavalcade of noise.

“Deny the Savior” should be pretty clear from its title, and the track takes on an almost ceremonial feel at times. There is darkness and beauty to this one, with the vocals a near hush at points, and the riffs again are complete monsters. “You worship death, I worship life,” Fredrick poses, with the song dissolving into static and eventually closing its eyes. “Mark of Jubilee” has soulful, powerful vocals, with the band creating a haunting tapestry of doom. Underneath, there’s a near-Western noir thing going on, making it seem like a cool sunset in the desert, and the song’s slower, more mellow sections lure you right into its trap. Suddenly, everything erupts again, as filthy pounding takes over and leaves you bruised heavily. “Rursumque Adracula” rises up, another quick instrumental with acoustics, sunburnt guitars soaring, and the elements setting a bridge to the thunderous finale “Raped by the Serpent.” There, slow-driving, smothering melodies start smoking before the chugging arrives. In a way, it is the most straight-forward cut here, as the blanket of haze is pulled back, and the chaos eventually ices over, providing a chance to cool down. But it’s a temporary state as the track tears open anew, with drums blasting, guitars slaying, and Fredrick vowing, “Their hearts connect like fire,” as the band brings this tale to a cataclysmic, thrilling finish.

Demon Lung have done an admirable job with “A Dracula” to bring the film into more people’s awareness and to add their own, horrific stamp to the piece of work. This band is one of doom’s most exciting new bands, and they now have two excellent records to slay you. This band keeps getting better and more imaginative, and this new album not only scratches every damn doom itch but also has me wondering what buried, bloody classic they can conjure next. They don’t need some film to do that; their collective imagination surely will be enough to foot the bill.

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