Devil
Gather the Sinners

Norway’s Devil made an impression on me in 2010 with their demo Magister Mundi Xum and rightly so. Injecting some rough hewn overtones of NWOBHM favorites Witchfinder General in to a bluesy old school doom sound was a perfect antidote to the hordes of image conscious hippies and their retro rock bullshit. Their debut album Time to Repent followed suit nicely with gritty production, simple catchy songs, and a couple of rerecorded demo and 7” tracks. Their sophomore effort is here and Norway’s finest sound as haggard as ever, dropping bleary riff bombs and smoke throated choruses left and right. Gather the Sinners is everything that made their first material so enjoyable, presented more consistently, and without the theatrical intro/outro filler.

Devil hasn’t refined their approach as much as they’ve distilled it, spilling forth an album 100% riff centered doomy rock. The rough production that defined their demo and debut is still present, along with the simple verse-chorus song structure. Guitarists Kai and Stian have focused their Sabbath/Witchfinder General mash up, coughing up bluesy doom riffs with just a bit of garage rock spirit and edge. Joakim’s vocals have been turned down a bit, but his delivery is as straightforward as ever. The lyrics are similarly occult themed, something that’s become a prerequisite for the retro doom lot, but remain more ear catching than most.

Gather the Sinners is rich with a charm many of Devil’s peers lack. Like Clutch and Church of Misery, they have the power to get the old noggin nodding and instantly put you in a good mood. There’s a total lack of pretension and a certain level of cliché that makes their songs breeze by and worm their way through your ears. Tracks like “Southern Sun”, “Beyond the Gate” and “Demons on Wheels” scratch the doom and gloom itch nicely with their infectious choruses and Sabbathy riffs. “Darkest Days” is like a marriage between Pentagram and Witchfinder General, with its “Love on Smack” rhythmic rigidity giving way to a riff that channels Victor Griffin’s despondent warble. “Darkest Days” captures the light-hearted spirit that mitigates the all too serious occult imagery that surrounds this style of music.

Gather the Sinners is not as diverse as Time to Repent, but this is to the band’s advantage. It’s nearly 20 minutes longer than the debut with no recycled material to hold them back. Barring the doom forays and the sub two minute acoustic break in album’s middle, they maintain a mid paced stomp throughout. Of course, it’s the rough edges that set them apart from their musically polished peers. They’re not as technical on their instruments compared to Kadavar or Graveyard, and they don’t nail the Sabbath worship as well as Orchid, and that’s what makes them refreshing. They’re the Hell’s Angels among the bell bottomed hippies, bashing out simple, memorable songs perfect for pounding beers and drunken sing-alongs.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
September 10th, 2013

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