"The Devil"

By Dr. Abner Mality

THE DEVIL is not to be confused with the Norwegian stoner band DEVIL nor are they to be confused with any other hooded, mask wearing occult metal band from Scandinavia, although such confusion is inevitable and almost certainly intentional. No, this latest "mystery" band is musically a different entity than any GHOST-ly crew from the same general neighborhood. In fact, for a good portion of their debut album, they are not really a metal band at all.

I really wonder what's going on with the marketing and creative forces behind this band. A name like The Devil, coupled with the rather tired hood and mask thing, conjures up a band of spooky demon worshippers or a Halloweeny dark ambient bunch. Out of the 13 songs on "The Devil" (a number chosen with significance, I'm sure), only one seems to overtly deal with the dark side. The rest is an exploration of paranormal phenomena, altered states of consciousness and conspiracy theory. Some songs are downright New Age in their overall approach and feel. So why do they masquerade as "The Devil"? Perhaps because Lucifer was a bringer of enlightenment and so,too, do these cloaked acolytes see themselves.

The music here is highly, highly cinematic and soundtrack-based. I would say more than 50% is ambient/symphonic and lacking metal content. When the metal does come in, it is doomy, crunchy and fundamental riffing. There's a whiff of the slower, spacier Hypocrisy in the cosmic power chords...sometimes dark, sometimes majestic. I wonder if a certain Mr. Peter Tagtgren might be beneath the mask and hood of this band...let the guessing games begin!

And how about the vocals? Well, there are none. Absolutely none. But there are lots and lots of samples. You may very well call The Devil the world's first "narrated" metal band. We hear tons of newsclip extracts from assassinations, moon landings, dire warnings of the future. We get to hear Oppenheimer's "I am become death..." speech again, for at least the fourth time this year and who knows how many times over all? Surely, with all the billions of possibilities of spoken words out there, some new ones can be chosen?

A certain amount of cynicism colors my review here and rightfully so, but I must admit that The Devil creates a calming, expansive and engaging sound. The more keyboard drenched tracks such as "Astral Dreamscape" and "Akashic Enlightenment" are soothing and do not overstay their welcome. The more metallic crunch of "Extinction Level Event", "Universe" and "Alternative Dimensions" lumber peacefully along like giant grazing animals, capable of crushing you but not really in a hostile way. To cap off this odd album of "soundtrack metal", we have an endlessly repeated binary sound loop that almost seeks to equal the length of the "actual" songs all put together. I suspect some sort of message is embedded therein and although I tire of such bullshit, I found this less annoying than the racket that ended the latest album from All Hail The Yeti.

An extremely odd album, very listenable, but about as "devilish" as an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond". I think the image is pure bandwagon jumping but the music beneath it is worthy of further study.