Demob Happy – ‘Holy Doom’

By Harry Pages

British grunge is a dirty term, and Demob Happy intend to keep it that way. The titular rockers’ latest album, ‘Holy Doom’, roars with the spirit of a protest march and ticks with the familiar essence of a twisted rally. Yet it’s more internal, spiritually dirty, and personal: a man lost in turmoil; a rollercoaster frenzy of three-piece drums, bass, and guitar, transcended by high, spiteful Lennon lyrics.

The Brighton grungers’ 2015 debut ‘Dream Soda’ revitalised the genre and they’ve aimed for a much bolder and experimental second album. It’s the kind of music that John Lennon would play in the halls of hell; unafraid to tarnish its own poetry with rough, flowing rhythm that destroys the calm of the very musical expectations that the tracks structurally present. It’s an album of human connections and bipolar relationships, moaning of unseen gods and dead men’s clothes, a trickery of soothing lyrics and aggressive grunge rage. 

They’ve been described as ‘sex grunge’, but it could be perceived as even more nihilistic – anti-romance grunge, the dark reflection of Beatles’ pop; waves of exhaustion and bemusement flowed by melancholy and nostalgia for better times that perhaps never even existed to begin with.

Lead-singer Matthew Marcantonio has a Kiedis-cool at his core; mumbling, screaming and whining lyrics that bring a funky zen to the head-spinning music. He captains the presence of the heavy band with Josh Homme stamina, not afraid to go soft in tone for beautiful contrasts that reflect the album’s core emotive themes. 

The album is a devilish wind-up toy that doesn’t stop spinning until the finale. Stand-out tracks include the two singles, ‘Be Your Man’ and ‘Loosen It’ – poetic choruses infected with a brutal bass skeleton and maddening drums. ‘Maker of Mine’, ‘Liar in Your Head’ and ‘God’s I’ve Seen’ are must-haves for fans of the grunge genre and heavy indie rock. Fresh Out of Luck’ fades the album majestically out with waves of heavenly disconnection evaporating the album’s sound in a tactical reflection of the heavier opening track. 

Demob Happy may have finely tuned their sound too well, leading to predictable entries in the album for those that have been waiting since 2015 for a new album. Some songs feel like obvious filler; a couple of tracks towards the second half of the album drawl on longer than they should and, though a reimagining of early rock and grunge, the choruses can become repetitive. We have certainly heard this sound before, however, if you love the album as a blended Frankenstein of grunge dreams and indie horror, then this nightmare will give you a more everlasting memory than dreams ever can do. 

HARRY PAGES

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