In a previous edition of HHH, I reviewed a demo from Chicago's blue-collar sludge outfit Couldron. They're really awesome guys and, as such, their frontman told me that I simply had to check out their friends, compatriots, and tour-buddies in the doom scene, Trifog. There's a reason I bring up Couldron, and it isn't just their storied history with Trifog. The two bands need to be stacked side-by-side to explain Trifog's entire sound. Couldron play what I'd term "American" doom; the order of the day for those blokes is down-tempo, heavily distorted sonic mud with plenty of atmospherics. Trifog, on the other hand, have opted out for a more European doom sound. This demo clearly illustrates this old-fashioned, traditional approach to the doom style. Trifog pay many a nod to classic American acts (mainly the Wino outfits of St. Vitus and the Obsessed) but their mainly mid-tempo, stoned-out melodic doom pays the biggest homage to the Euro sound. Vocalist Mark ranges from falsetto wails and soft, moody burrs; all of it has a trace of Ozzy to it, ala classic Black Sabbath. The biggest tell-tale is Trifog's often textured riffing and psychedelic solos, all of which frequently invoke Lee Dorian's masterful Cathedral of course. This cross-breeding betwixt American and British notions of doom metal ends up a subtle, oddly entrancing chunk of wistful traditional doom. If I had to sum it all up, picture Wino forming St. Vitus in England and playing everything just the slightest beat or two faster. This warm, organic sense of the doom metal legacy is immediately realized on opening track "Trodden 'Neath Cloven Hoof." The order of the day here is lively, flowing doom in the classic sense of the genre with tons of modern heft and depth. The song is carried by tight, restrained drums and churning bass lines that sound like bubbling mud puddles. Like any traditional doom band, exceptional emphasis is placed on both the guitars and the vocals; dual guitarists Markus and Justin play soft, trance-inducing hypnosis that slowly builds into a blanket of mystical auras that frontman Mark wears like a winter jacket. The fantastic "Slow Motion Suicide" is Vitus worship of the highest order; chunky riffs rock out with potent fury as vocals careen, wail, and yowl. This is simple, top honors mid-tempo doom, pure and simple. "Azazel's Touch" starts off with some funky bass notes before kicking your ass with melodic, hook-laden, old-school doom that would have Cathedral fans grinning ear-to-ear. Just like the angel of myth whom it is named for, this one is simply divine. In an ironic twist of fate, "Azazel" is also the shortest track on the demo yet it feels like one of the most well- rounded; the Trifog outfit definitely brings their all to this track and there is lots going on with the cut. "Praying for the End of the Day" rolls in on a waterfall of pounding drums before launching into twisting, riff-centric doom that is pretty pleasing for connoisseurs of said genre. The ending track of the demo, "Snakebit" captures the buzzing majesty that was Sleep (an all-time favorite of modern doom with this reviewer) and gives it that desert-jam vibe that Kyuss were so good at. It really surprised me as around this time I realized Mark has a bit of Soundgarden's/Audioslave's Chris Cornell to his vocals, and that is something I really didn't expect from this band at all. Though it sticks out with its blatantly unique identity on the disc, "Snakebit" is a real fiery rock jam that closes the album with outright bombast.
Slick, stoned, and smooth, this demo shows that Trifog inherently contain doom talent in their blood. Whether paying homage to the bluesy, Americana vibes of Scott Wino's output or bowing down in the Cathedral of trippy psychedelia, fans of any and all classic doom bands of yore should find something of worth with this demo.
1. Trodden 'Neath Cloven Hoof
2. Slow Motion Suicide
3. Azazel's Touch
4. Praying for the End of the Day
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