The Devil

The Devil

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Following the unlikely rise of Sweden's Ghost, from underground curiosity to quasi-mainstream cult, many are the bands suddenly flooding the marketplace with simple one-word monikers and some form of retrofitted heavy rock style -- but here's one with something different to offer. Like Ghost, the members of London, England's the Devil disguise their true identities behind cryptic masks and obscuring cowls, but whereas Ghost craft their catchy and direct proto-metal sound out of traditional metal suspects like Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate, the Devil assemble their so-called "cinematic metal" with comparatively dense atmospheric soundtrack montages rich in synthesizers, often more so than guitars. What's more, rather than topping these with human-sung vocals, the Devil instead cobble together dramatic sound bites dealing in everything from historical news broadcasts (see the 9/11-related "World of Sorrow"), conspiracy theories ("Devil & Mankind"), major historical (the hydrogen bomb-themed "Extinction Level Event") or sociopolitical events (the MLKIII-inspired "Intervention"), and all manner of obscure arcana ("Akashic Enlightenment," "Illuminati"). In the process, musical touchstones range from such historical exemplars of rock's sporadic soundtrack flirtations as Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (see the Omen-like "Universe"), Queen's synthesizer-drenched Flash Gordon ("Astral Dreamscape"), and, on a more subliminal level, 1984's Phenomena, thanks to its semi-incognito collection of hard rock dignitaries. Having said all that, the short supply of typical metallic elements (completely absent from a few numbers) and random application of those universally recognizable but also predictable sound bites (certainly by the time former U.S. president George Bush's "New World Order" speech rolls around on "Transcendence") do few favors for the Devil's creations, or for their appeal to the ensemble's intended metal audience. On the upside, there's no doubt about the band's ability to buck first impressions based on moniker and image with this willfully experimental debut.

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