Here dwell the damned

P. PAUL FENECH: Demon Seed Rising

Release year: 2022
Label: Mutant Rock Records

If you had to stutter “P-paul who?”, then you’re obviously not into psychobilly. Those who are will know that P. Paul Fenech is none other than founding member, sole original member of long-running psychobilly founding fathers The Meteors. Beside his main venture, the man’s had an unhealthy amount of side activities throughout the years, one of which is a string of solo albums. The first one, The Rockin Dead, came out way back in 1992, and since then he’s been popping out another one every few years.

In the past few years, most likely due to COVID-imposed resrictions, The Meteors have been extremely active, releasing a whopping three full-length albums in 2021 (we reviewed one of them here). Now, with restrictions lifted, Fenech & Co. seem to be back doing what they love the best: on the road, on tour, performing with an impressive frequency. But all’s not quiet on the recording front, as this newest solo album by the main man himself testifies.

By and large, Demon Seed Rising is a typical P. Paul Fenech solo album. It’s not The Meteors, but it’s also not not The Meteors. By this I mean that in being a rockin’ album by P. Paul Fenech, it’s in a ballpark close to The Meteors, and considering Fenech himself both writes the song and truly defines The Meteors’ trademark sound, there’s no point in pretending that this album isn’t very close to what The Meteors do.

The thing that does seem to set the solo stuff apart from the main band is how Fenech allows himself to experiment with his expression a bit more on the solo stuff. Some of the stuff is pure psychobilly, but there’s garage rockin’, country, and just in general a wider range of styles and atmospheres explored in his solo stuff – on Demon Seed Rising as well. Sometimes the solo albums come across as sort of testing grounds for new ideas on how a rockin’ Fenech record can sound.

But, still, Fenech doesn’t stray too far from what he knows best. So fear ye not, faithful kattle: Demon Seed Rising is pure Fenech. However, differing from newer The Meteors, the sound isn’t all that dirty or lo-fi. Whilst not exactly polished, that layer of grime is missing.

There’s one significant problem on Demon Seed Rising: it’s running time. Clocking in at well over an hour, it’s an exhausting listening experience. And, frankly, on an album this long, there is redundant filler stuff. Although not offering any immortal classics-to-be, at its best Demon Seed Rising offers some very decent stuff. However, at other times, it offers stuff that would have been best relegated to the b-side of a single.

And that’s a damn shame, because the sheer mass of material does to some extent cripple this album. Trim it down to 30 minutes, 40 minutes tops, and you’d have a more than decent full-length album. Now… a bit less than that.

The absolute top moment of the album is the macabrely atmospheric The White Room, on which Fenech is joined by The Murder Brothers. On most other tracks, Fenech himself handles all instruments, showing once again he’s a more than capable on more than just the guitar, his chosen weapon with The Meteors.

All in all, Demon Seed Rising is a somewhat frustrating album. There’s a good album in there, it’s just that there’s also a mediocre album there. Demon Seed Rising is at the cross-section of the two. Still, loyal followers will surely not be disappointed.

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