Monday, 30 March 2009

Devil Sold His Soul - A Fragile Hope

Sturgeon's law is a perjorative adge which details that "90% of everything is crap". This in mind, I'm quite pleased to see that I've managed to maintain a 1:2 ratio of wheat to chaff. I like to think of myself as an optimist, albiet one who regularly uses threats of violence as descriptive writing in a review. As such, I'd like to redress the balance by recommending to you an album which is, let's not mince words, fucking sweet.

Devil Sold His Soul are a band formed from the remenants of a super-influential UK hardcore band who literally no-one has ever heard of, but who mixed hardcore with my personal favourite genre of the moment, post-metal (A highly atmospheric take on doom/sludge metal - listen to Isis "Oceanic" for the quintessential post-metal experience) which is a combination akin to peanut butter and strawberry jam, but less overdone. Indeed, the impact of metalcore may seem a rather uncomfortable juxtaposition to the meandering, artistic depth of post-metal, but apparently this worked for "Muhamodo" (yes, that was their name) so well that they've continued refining the formula to almost weaponised form (I like to think for use against Parkway Drive) in their latest project, Devil Sold His Soul.

Indeed, "A Fragile Hope", their debut LP, is not for the ninja-pitting instant gratification crowd, not for the over-pretentious types who don't want any -core in their post-rock, and certainly not for the kind of person who looked upon my Bring Me The Horizon paddling session as anything less than totally deserved. This is for those of us who still have that little bit of hope for metalcore, that one day Converge, Between The Buried and Me and Bury Your Dead will ride in on white stallions and cast anyone who thinks new Architects is better than "Ruin" era into the firey abyss to be eternally damned. Indeed, this album reminds me of a song I got on a Metal Hammer CD which was a sole piece of clear sky in the heavens of a metalcore genre more than ready to rain all over my "Metal is art" parade; "Inheritor" by a Norwegian band called Benea Reach. I've never been able to track down a copy of the album, but I have no doubt that this is better than that album could ever be. Intense, crackling ambience gathering and building, rising and falling before fulminating into scarring metalcore storms or heartfelt clean singing.  The ambient moments are perfectly pitched; simplistic drums and bass accompanied by a sparse vista of guitar music, perfectly textured and written as well as anything I've ever heard, and the hardcore/metalcore moments give a feeling of rare vulnerability that can only come from genuine emotional release. Every note has taste, meaning and necessity, every section would lessen the overall song with it's exclusion. Each moment brings an atmosphere of tragedy, sorrow and frustration, utterly ferocious and yet so beautiful in it's raw emotion that it overwhelms. It's unbelievable that such a young band could capture the gorgeousness of Isis and the heartfelt viciousness of Converge, and not just mimic it, but completely understand why it's being done.

The only problem I can think of is that I'm not sure precisely when I'm going to listen to this. If I want really pretty atmospheric sludge why am I not listening to Isis? If I want really counterintuitively pretty metalcore why am I not listening to Architects? Devil Sold His Soul aren't a halfway point I'm entirely convinced are neccesary. That said, I'm halfway to thinking that I'll listen to this twice as much as I'll listen to either of those bands; certainly these guys are dramatically better than Architects.

Indeed, "A Fragile Hope" is an album that doesn't just dabble in either metalcore or post-metal, it makes both genres work together wonderfully, while creating a unique sound which gives the best of both these genres serious competition. I can only give this album the highest possible recommendation.

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