It’s extremely rare that I find an album that’s tagged as just doom metal and nothing more. The modern trend is to have doom metal be an either supplementary genre, have it be a subgenre of doom metal, or have it be the main genre but with other stuff filled in. At this point it’s almost like tagging something as just black metal. It really doesn’t describe the album at all. Black metal could mean a ton of things, and similarly just doom metal could mean any number of things, especially as I don’t believe I’ve ever reviewed something tagged as only doom metal (I didn’t check though, don’t quote me on that). So I went into Sathanas Trismegistos completely blind, and came out completely satisfied. It’s like they showed me what I wanted to hear when I didn’t even know myself. Head of the Demon puts forth in their second album a fantastic occult doom metal journey that above all goes against the trend of adding heaviness and noise, and instead focuses on what actually matters when it all comes down to it; songwriting.
The most important point I can make about Sathanas, above anything else I will write here, is how carefully crafted each riff is. Every riffs succeeds the next in a logical fashion, and not in just “I’m going to repeat this endless then switch like once or twice”, but as in the riffs and constantly evolving and changing to the music, creating an actual structure to the music. The tracks here in a way remind me of some instrumental djent albums (bet you weren’t expecting that analogy huh?) in that the songs are not so much songs, but progressions that continue on a logical path. There isn’t so much a main riff as much as a continuation of riffs that bring the listener towards the end. Not a single note on this entire album is wasted, and I always need to mention that every time it comes up, because it’s such a refreshing thing to hear in metal every time it comes up, let alone in fucking DOOM METAL of all things. You know, the “we’re going to be as heavy and monotonous as possible” metal genre?
That actually brings me another point of a refreshing aspect of this album, it really isn’t heavy at all. Heaviness is such an overused technique in doom metal today, to where I am almost considering it a negative nowadays. Fuck, I just reviewed an album today that I bashed for being nothing more than heavy mush, and that will certainly not be the last album I critique as such this year (or even this summer I bet). The actual heaviness level of this album is psychedelic rock tier, aside from maybe the title track, which bring forth the one time on the album where they decided to tighten the grip on the listeners ears, but just a tad. And that just demonstrates how intelligent these guys are at making music. There’s only one part of the entire album that gets heavy at all, and it’s probably the best moment of the album. The song flows perfectly into a buildup and climax with the harsh (well, somewhat harsh) vocals, and the crushing (well, crushing like a hard pillow) guitars, and then fades away at an appropriate pace. I really just can’t emphasize enough how good these guys are at crafting music, it’s so awesome to hear this stuff coming from an unknown doom metal band. As music writing myself, I appreciate the fuck out of this, mad props.
The problem is once they blow their load, they kinda just sit there in a stupor wondering what to do next. No song sounds the same, but no song sounds different either. It’s all another take on the same formula, sans the title track somewhat. I personally think to create a great album, you need at least one track where you show what else you got, and really change things up, while still remaining true to the albums themes. Head of the Demon stay true to the themes, but never really go outside for that.
Which isn’t really that awful here, the themes they lay upon are pretty great. This calm, ominous, satanic doom metal atmosphere has the aura of a black metal album, but the soul of an old school doom record. For all it’s faults (well, one major one), it delivers a very unique experience in this day and age, and is absolutely one of my top doom metal albums this year.