The riff, the foundation from which all heavy rock music is built. It is the molten material used to forge inspiration for future generations of rock guitarists. There’s a reason Eddie Van Halen’s most famous piece is called “Eruption.” Whether it’s a sludgy doom riff or a buzzsaw grind riff, heavy music is nothing without the riff. Tales of Demonic Possession, the latest album by Clouds Taste Satanic, is an ode to the riff.
A better title for this entirely instrumental album might be Survey of Guitar Heroics. Clouds Taste Satanic clearly studied the greats and unabashedly worship at their feet. They fill Tales of Demonic Possession with homages to the guitar pyrotechnics of familiar rock gods. This album is a temple and every riff on it is a prayer to the elder gods of heavy music.
Clouds Taste Satanic build Tales of Demonic Possession around guitarists Steven Scavuzzo and Brian Bahus love of the riff. The rhythm section here is capable and anchor the heaviness but they’re not the focus of this album. Don’t expect any Moby Dick-style drum solos. This album is all about the guitar interplay of Scavuzzo and Bahus.
Throughout the album, the two guitarists lay down seemingly every guitar tone and riff they can conjure. Opener “Flames and Demon Drummers” starts with Richie Blackmore/Tony Iommi psyched out jamming and ends with some Brian May-esque baroque guitar playing flair. “Sun Death Ritual” and “Spirits of the Green Desert” both have pure Iommi riffage with ominous tri tones throughout. Somewhere in there is probably the late great Jeff Beck, David Gilmore, Jimmy Page, and any other 60s/70s hard guitarist.
That’s both the blessing and the curse of this album. This is an 80 minute journey where Clouds Taste Satanic show their solid musicianship while working with a 70s hard rock and heavy metal sonic palette. There’s a lot of ideas worked out in those 80 minutes and while none of this feels slavish, nothing in here pushes this kind of music in any sort of new direction. If 70s hard rock and heavy metal does not float your boat, an 80 minute homage will sink said boat. However, if 70s hard rock and heavy metal does float your boat, that boat is in for some especially smooth sailing.
Ozzy Osbourne once said something along the lines “I want a great guitarist in my band who will inspire future guitarists.” Considering Osbourne’s list of guitar collaborators consists of Tony Iommi, Randy Rhodes, and Zakk Wylde, the Prince of Darkness knows what he’s talking about. On Tales of Demonic Possession, Clouds Taste Satanic pays homage and supplication to their guitar gods. The album may not push metal to new heights but it’s music with joy and affection for its forebears. Now put on your headphones, raise some horns, and let’s all hail the mighty riff!
– Dan M
Tales of Demonic Possession will be available February 3 on Majestic Mountain. For more information on Clouds Taste Satanic, visit their Facebook page.