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The Devil

The Devil

Review by Mike Korn

Do not judge this band by their name or their image. Both conjure up images of a satanic metal band, but that is not really what they are at all. Of course, they can't blame people for feeling that way when you have a bunch of hooded and masked characters calling themselves "The Devil,” but for those who look beneath the surface, this is a rather intriguing band and their debut record has grown on me quite a bit.

The Devil play instrumental music with no vocals, yet their songs are full of messages and meaning due to the copious amount of sampled dialogue present. The band seems obsessed with UFOs, global conspiracies and ancient history and transmit their message on these ideas through carefully chosen samples, some of which have frankly been heard many times before, like J. Robert Oppenheimer's "I Am Become Death..." speech. Musically, the metal content is definitely present but not predominant. Many of the tracks are lush soundscapes with a mysterious cinematic feel, created through symphonic instruments and synthesizers. When the metal guitars come in, they crunch away big time, but mostly in a slower, doomier fashion that accentuates the more cinematic music. It's no surprise that this band has actually done some film soundtracks.

I found this record kind of crept into my mind and lodged there. There's something about it that you remember and despite a couple of cheesy bits and misgivings over their name and derivative image, The Devil has put its mark on the modern music scene.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Divinorum

Very ominous low strings create a feeling of dread. This is real epic horror soundtrack music, like the theme for a major villain. Down-tuned crunching guitars then add a marching heavy metal thump as a choir sings in the background. There are no samples or vocals on this introductory track.

Universe
This has an appropriately spacy and mysterious sound and another excellent mixture of doomy heavy metal and cosmic orchestral sounds. There's also a lot of sampled dialogue about UFOs, the Moon Landing and the Flying Saucer cover up. Even if you don't believe in UFOs, this cut can't help but make you wonder about what's going on.
Astral Dreamscape
This is a beautiful, sad piece of music that communicates some of the vast loneliness of the universe. Indecipherable space noises can be heard in the background as the lush symphonic tones create an aura of cosmic mystery. This is not one of the album's metal songs, but it's nevertheless one of the best.
World of Sorrow
A throbbing bass line and steady drum beat give this song something of a Gothic feel. News reports of the 9/11 tragedy are sampled as a cold guitar riff enters the fray. The tune has an ebb and flow between metal and non-metal sequences, but the overall feel is one of foreboding.
Devil and Mankind
One of the heavier and longer tracks on the album, this often reminds me of something from the band Hypocrisy in one of their spacier moments. The guitar sound has the supercharged crunch of old Swedish death metal and we hear Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex echoing above the metal, along with other warnings about misuse of authority. Some piano and synth work adds mysterious melody to the heaviness. A lot of the track has to do with the assassination of Kennedy.
The Silent City
It's obvious at this point that The Devil are experts in constructing sad and emotional soundscapes. This is another song with a very melancholy feel and you have the impression in listening to it that a great era has passed.  Whispered narration describes the downfall of a once-great city. Finally, in the final third, the heavy riffing comes in and the transition is superb.
Akashic Enlightenment
Here's another wonderful cinematic instrumental. I can see images in my head while listening to this lovely and very sad song. Many movie soundtracks do not produce sounds of such power and beauty. The tune drops in intensity and piano takes center stage as Gandhi or a similar Indian sage delivers a speech about the brutality of man and the need for a change in consciousness.
Extinction Level Event
This driving ode echoes a feeling that man is getting ready to head over a cliff into the abyss. Simple crunchy metal riffing forms the bedrock, as voices speak of the destructive dangers of atomic weapons. This tune is kind of on the basic side, but the samples and narration add a fascination to it.
Intervention
More soaring and epic synth tones create a very soothing sound here. You feel like you are floating high above the clouds, looking down at the world. Then a massive heavy doom metal riff kicks in and Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his famous "I have a dream” speech. The song then ends with a quiet lament.
Illuminati
Narration from "War of the Worlds" is interwoven with samples about the United Nations and New World Order over a typical Devil song that alternates fragile piano and lumbering metal riffs. The formula is now getting very familiar but is undeniably powerful.
Transcendence
The album proper ends here, with cold winds blowing over an equally cold and minimal synth soundscape. You have the feeling that mankind has come to an end.
Alternative Dimensions
No beating around the bush here, this slams in with hard and heavy metal chords right away. It follows the typical Devil formula which is now wearing thin. More samples of a Hindu sage follow, discussing the concepts embodied in the title and the promise that mankind can move to something better.  Some actual lead work gives this a Swedish death metal feel, The synths are still here, though, and kick in more towards the end of the tune.
Ascension
Here's a warning about this last "song." Though it starts with more very deep and soothing tones,  it eventually gives way to a simple throbbing hum...that lasts for more than twenty minutes! I don't know if there's some subliminal message buried in there, but I don't think you need to waste your time with it like I did.
 
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