Compelled to check this release out by an excellent review by my good friends over at metalreview.com, I was greeted by a very intriguing but also polarizing release. Touted as experimental black metal, I was expecting something, well black metal-y from this anonymous, robe and mask clad UK act (for some reason, I want to say Binah members due to the guitar tone and some of the philosophical leanings, but I’m sure I’m way off) . However, what I was greeted with was some doomy, instrumental mid paced metal and instead of lyrics, there are samples, quotes, soundbites, news reports and snippets of all sorts of meaty topics ranging from UFOs, JFK’s assassination, and 9/11 to the Illuminati, Nuclear war and more UFOs.
After some research I found a lot of the fascinating sound bites to be from the likes of Carl Sagan, Carl Jung, Martin Luther King, HG Wells, Jiddu Krishnamurti, JFK and others as well as lots of news footage, audio recordings and samples of historical events like 9/11, the Trinity Atomic bomb being tested and UFO sightings. It’s all incredibly interesting and riveting to hear some brilliant minds especially Krishnamurti in the gorgeous “Akashic Enlightenment”. But these fascinating sound bites, come at a cost , as often I found myself actively focusing on the words and sounds, rather than the music playing in the back ground, which is a shame, as it deserves a little more attention.
Rather than ‘experimental black metal’, as the robes and such would have you believe, The Devil‘s music is a plodding form of doomy death metal. It has a killer, crunchy guitar tone and some beautiful synth accompaniment. When taken as a whole, I got a heavy Hypocrisy vibe, namely the bands slower, moodier tracks from The 4th Dimension and Abducted, cemented by the often space-y sci fi keys and themes that are pretty common in the audio bites. I almost heard Peter Tagtgren’s clean croons kicking in, in my own mind relatively often. It’s very somber and melancholy, and at times the synths are overwhelmingly hypnotic and movie score-like (“Astral Dreamscapes”,”Intervention”, “Ascension”), but there are some wonderful riffs buried within all of the samples such as “World of Sorrow”, “Devil & Mankind”, “Extinction level Event”, “Illuminati”, and “Alternative Dimensions”, which really give me a Hypocrisy on barbiturates while being Abducted vibe, even the song titles are pretty mid era Hypocrisy-ish.
But here comes the polarizing element. As mush as I enjoyed many of the moments on the release- I found myself really wanting the band to separate the elements, i.e having the quotes and samples in between songs and letting the riffs stand alone, or some sort of vocals-be it death metal growls (some deeper Finnish doom/death vocals would have been fitting) or as I mentioned some semi-robotic Peter Tagtgren-ish croons.
Closer “Ascension” is listed at almost 30 minutes, but its basically a long period of ambiance, which is a bit of a waste of time and it ends a somewhat confounding,but very interesting release aptly. However, it’s great head phones, lying in bead music as it will lull you to sleep but fans of Ghost and other masked acts might be disappointed, if they go into this expecting something else. However, The Devil is if anything, is an interesting listen.[Visit the band's website]