Track by Track: Demons of Noon – “Death Machine”

Demons of Noon band photo
Photo by Harry Skelton

Formed in 2017, New Zealand doom cult Demons of Noon first shared their hallucinogenic approach to slow ‘n’ low heaviness on April 20th, 2020. Despite the 420 release date, their three-track EP The Summoning wasn’t a spliff-smokin’ stoner rehash. Demons of Noon paired trippy sludge with poignant themes and curiosity about the darkest shadows of human history. 3 years later, they explore human folly and fragility further on their debut LP, Death Machine. Along with a full album premiere ahead of the December 1st release date, Demons of Noon discussed the album at length with Decibel Magazine.

In the track by track deep-dive below, guitarist/vocalist Scott Satherley and bassist/vocalist Jonathan Burgess share the seeds of lyrical inspiration for each song. The music inspirations of Death Machine are more difficult to succinctly describe. Demons of Noon are art-house doom on the surface level, favoring a methodical approach and lofty themes. But that dismisses the punishing heaviness and gang-vocals that anchor the album, especially on “Coward” and “Sphere of Peace.” The spectral vocal contributions from Aria Jones and Tamsyn Matchett bring to mind Jex Thoth, Mazzy Star, and Giant Squid. Down to the final unsettling churn of “Torched and Burned,” sly melodies elevate the heaviness like stars spattered against a tar-pit sky. The result is an impressive and distinct debut LP that will appeal to fans of Vile Creature, Swans, and Blood Ceremony alike.

Summon the crushing sun by pressing play on Death Machine. Scroll down to read thoughts from Demons of Noon about each track below.

Scott Satherley: “Echolalia” refers to the nonsensical repetition of words just spoken by another person, something quite normal for a baby to do while learning speech, but which can indicate mental illness in adults. Doom metal is a great landscape to explore repetition. To be a fan of the genre is to be patient; we can all listen to the same riff for fifteen minutes and not be bored. The song includes the lyric, “Voices in the rain sharpening their blades on your brain.” These invisible menaces remind me of a character in William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch; a man so grey and spectral no one could see him, but when he passed people, they could feel him.

“Crushing Sun”
Satherley: This was a good exercise in storytelling: single words, no conjunctions. “Crushing Sun” is an apocalyptic story. I wanted it to sound like it was zoomed far out, narrating the entire history of the world from beginning to end (with some poetic license to stray off track). There is an evil force underlying all the songs on this album, a “devil” type of being, who will rise and occupy the Earth. The cover art depicts this entity, wreaking havoc on the world.

Jonathan Burgess: I wrote “Coward” with a specific person in mind, who inflicted a great deal of fear and suffering on people that I care about. It’s also about the dark undercurrent of fear and hatred that runs through human history, which we must be attuned to so that we don’t get pulled down into it ourselves. We recorded the vocals for this song through the night in idyllic Mangawhai and came very close to having the police called on us by concerned neighbours.

Satherley: This still makes us laugh. Can you imagine hearing your neighbour screaming “COWARD!” again and again late at night? Is he looking in the mirror while he’s yelling, or is he screaming at someone, cowardly?

Satherley: Meeting Gorbachev, a documentary by Werner Herzog, left a strong impression on me after I watched it. There was a scene in which he gives a rundown of Soviet history, intercutting the successive funerals of Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko, who all died within a three-year period. I loved it. It was some of the darkest comedy I had ever seen. The imagery of those three funerals lingered in my mind: a sea of regiments in red, the stilted movements in the orderly way they walked, and of course the beautiful, grim song that played over the footage: Chopin’s “Marche Funèbre.” Our song “Succession” attempts to conjure up something similar—a large group, united by death, mournful, orderly, in unison.


“Bad Men”
Burgess: “Bad Men” is the clearest articulation of Demons of Noon’s artistic vision. Primitive riffage evokes Neolithic people beating drums in the deep, as fire flickers against smoke-blackened cave walls. Guttural chants sit below yearning harmonies to invoke the unseen forces of time immemorial in the face of cruel modernity. The words of Seneca surface in the coda, after two thousand years, to remind us that “We are bad men living among bad men, and only one thing can calm us—we must agree to go easy on one another.”

“Sphere of Peace”
Satherley: In this song, we follow a righteous army of medieval knights. Righteousness is key here, because as we know, when groups of people believe in something so strongly—despite how embedded in evil it may be—it is their truth, and they are all the more dangerous. This group is a violent, well-trained, bloodthirsty hive-mind. They are an abominable force, guided by unknown principles and purpose. “We bring anvil, you bring blood” is a fair trade for them.

“Demons of Shade”
Satherley: “Demons of Shade” is inspired by a painting of hell in a manuscript named Hortus deliciarum, compiled by a nun called Herrad of Landsberg at the Hohenburg Abbey in Alsace. The imagery of medieval art and depictions of hell are a huge inspiration for this entire album. It is set in this period, where superstition and religion are omnipresent. “Demons of Shade” depicts an apocalyptic reckoning when the portal from hell is opened, and demons take over the earth. Much like the painting of hell, these demons are loving every second of it, torturing humans in creative ways as a form of entertainment. The depiction of demons in the film Mandy was another inspiration.

“Torched and Burned”
Burgess: This is the oldest song on the album. When we first started this band, we played in drop C tuning. Our guitarist Abraham Kunin wasn’t convinced, and encouraged us to tune down further to drop A. You can tell that this is an older song because it retains that drop C sound. The riff brings back fond memories of our early days playing loud and slow on Sunday afternoons in Whammy!, our favourite subterranean dive bar in Auckland. The lyrics for the twisted vocal interplay in the outro were inspired by a dream that the lead character has in Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Passenger.

Pre-order Death Machine from Evil Feast Records HERE

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