I came to a realization as I approached this review of Prophecies and Lies, the third album by North Carolina’s Demon Eye. I tend to navigate towards one of two directions when it comes to music. Either I grab onto something fresh, exciting, and genre-pushing, or I flock to well-worn sounds that are performed with such conviction, talent, and pizzazz that it makes me overlook that yes, I have heard this a million times before. Prophecies and Lies comfortably falls into the latter category, generating a sound that recalls the glory years of the 70s. But if you’re anything like me, first of all, clean your room, and second, you’re probably sick to death of bands aping the retro-doom sound making its rounds among the underground. The music’s gotta be something special for me to pay attention and give it my time.
Thankfully, Prophecies and Lies is that something special. Demon Eye borrows a bit from the Sabbath Cookbook of Riffs & Rhythms. But while their contemporaries just follow the recipe to a T, Demon Eye marinate that particular duck with some needed helpings of energy and a little bit of boogie. Opener “The Waters and the Wild” possesses a main riff that sounds more than a little inspired by Heart‘s “Barracuda,” but pepped up by an energetic performance by drummer Bill Eagen. The riffing of Erik Sugg and Larry Burlison is tightened just enough to allow some groove and flow to dribble out. Sugg’s voice also separates the band from their contemporaries, sounding like a cross between Bobby Liebling and a ridiculously young Geddy Lee. Already, the album is off to a promising start.
As I soldier on towards the album’s end, I braced myself for that one thing that kills retro-doom albums dead in their tracks, and that’s complacency. Again, it’s not to be found here, as the album actually picks up steam in the middle. “Dying For It” could pass as a heavier Mötley Crüe tune1, with Sugg picking up some of Vince Neil’s vocal inflections. Elsewhere, “Power of One” drives with some powerful riffs and one hell of a sweet chorus. But the crowning achievement for Best Hooks & Groove goes to standout track “Vagabond,” recalling some potent Deep Purple at their “Hush”-est, with a sick breakdown section by Eagen and bassist Paul Walz before Burlison rips a short but sweet solo. Also, cowbell. Lots and lots of well-placed, boogie-inducing cowbell.
Retaining that old-school warmth, Corrosion of Conformity‘s Mike Dean commendably produced Prophecies and Lies, giving the guitars and bass a warm, almost analog feel. Sadly, the drums do sound a bit muffled and the cymbals possess some distortion, but overall sound great, despite the lack of dynamics. One major qualm is the album drags by the time the last two songs arrive. The spoken word that carries the title track could have been omitted, giving the song a much stronger vibe. As it stands, it took some much-needed energy away from the otherwise enjoyable closer, “Morning’s Son.”
With so many bands reaching backwards in hopes for something new, it’s refreshing when a band actually accomplishes that goal simply by injecting their own energy into a well-worn mix. Demon Eye crafted a solid, energetic slab of groove with Prophecies and Lies, and it’s a sound that’s sure to worm its way into your eardrums, like it did mine. Give in to the flow, peeps.