Mephiskapheles

God Bless Satan

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The Devil finally gets his due with the formation of Mephiskapheles, the world's first satanic ska band, and the release of the group's debut full-length, God Bless Satan. Devil worshipers they may well be, and who can blame them -- since it's obvious that Satan has all the best songs, as this album (13 tracks long, of course) proves. But those who might imagine this as a dread-filled set -- awash in gothic atmospheres or, conversely, a metal hybrid that sacrifices to the likes of Black Sabbath -- are in for a surprise. Only the Phantom of the Opera-esque intro to "Eskamoes" hints at the former, while nothing within suggests the latter. Instead, the band delivers an album of mostly upbeat, ska-based skankers, flush with brass and brimming with good times. Drenched with irresistible melodies, infectious choruses (just try not to sing along with "Saba"), and exhilarating instrumentals, Mephiskapheles are destined to be party favorites. However, wallflowers will be content to stay off the dancefloor and concentrate on the fabulous musicianship, for the brass players obviously sold their souls to sound so tight and unleash such phenomenal solos, while the exuberant rhythm section and jubilant keyboardist's salvation are equally in doubt. Regardless, Mephiskapheles are having such a grand time from the get-go that it's clear damnation doesn't faze them one bit. However, like their 2-Tone progenitors, most of the lyrics are downbeat, many painting vivid vignettes of clashes, emotional crashes, and "Doomsday" flashes. There's humor as well, from the Oscar Meyer bologna jingle that's tucked into the band's "Mephiskapheles" theme song to their jubilant version of "The Bumble Bee Tuna Song." Lead singer the Nubian Nightmare is true to his name, shifting genres before one's ears, impossible to pin down stylistically, but always the consummate performer and entertainer. Moving far beyond 2-Tone and owing little to Jamaica's originators, Mephiskapheles have carved out their own musical niche, ska-based and brass-led with unbeatable melodies. You'll be thanking Satan, too.

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