What we know about the Demon’s Claws almost goes without saying. They’re on In the Red, a label infamous for putting out some of the most viscerally engaging rock and roll, so they probably know how to have a good time. They’re from Montreal, a city known for being home to bands which refuse to be pigeonholed artistically. Odds are the Demon’s Claws have got a few tricks up their sleeve and are more than just a simple banging garage act.
Lucky for everyone, these assumptions are proved true on The Defrosting Of…, the band’s third full length. There is an unrelenting edge littered throughout the record. As subtle as the changes from Satan’s Little Pet Pig, their last full-length might be, at least we know that this four-piece is showing no signs of slowing down. The thrash and wail of “At The Disco” may very well be the best example of the band’s subtle evolution. A succinct and smooth bluesy looping riff keeps the two-minute snarl alive and well, proving that while the band isn’t afraid to experiment, nothing can override the stomp which they have become well-known in garage circles for.
Now, just because “At The Disco” contains a smooth blues loop, don’t go thinking that the band has ditched their lo-fi and rough around the edges Southern charm. The Defrosting Of… might actually be an appropriate title for the record. Let’s consider how adequately the band sheds the parkas which keep them warm throughout those frigid Montreal nights and gets in touch with their sweaty Southern roots. It’s those roots which clearly have had a defining influence on The Demon’s Claws and are distinctly turned up on The Defrosting Of….
“Catch Her By The Tail” is a thick, greasy stomp of a listen that is as much a psychedelic garage track as it is a track Skynyrd would have likely been too afraid to record. “All Three Eyes” backs it up. There is a maturity to its psychedelic shuffle, one which only comes with age, when you have the confidence to believe in your art.
The only real knock on The Defrosting Of… might be how long is really takes to get cooking. The loose album opener “Fed From Her Hand” sounds more like the band tuning up than anything else. But by “Weird Ways,” the shuffling, borderline emotional second-to-last track, The Demon’s Claws have mastered every genre they clearly hold dear to their heart: the lo-fi, youthful punch of garage, the honesty of country-heavy twang and the lack of fear that only psychedelics could inspire.
Other standouts include the road trip-ready groove of “Anny Lou,” and the straight-up punch of “Laser Beams,” which go in opposite directions but both seem to have their eyes on the same final end game.
Where the Demon’s Claws will ultimately end up is anybody’s guess. You’d like to think that the band has a very clear idea of where their art will take them, but odds are they’re having a good laugh right now and are eager to keep the train rolling.
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// Notes from the Road
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