Saturday, March 21, 2015

Review: Devilspit - Grim, Hateful, and Drunk

Caligari Records is on a tear. Let's be honest, no matter how much we love a certain record label there are to be some guaranteed duds within their slate of releases. Or to be more fair, releases that don't suit a particular listener's palate 100%. With Caligari, you have a contradiction to that general rule.

I try to grab each of their releases, because it mostly goes without much thought that I will love what they put out. Past gems have been Fuoco Fatuo, Skelethal, Bland Vargr, Ritual Decay (which I sadly missed until it was well sold out) and a slew of Heavydeath demos. But really, they're all infinitely listenable. Add Devilspit to that list, my friends.

Formed in Brittany, France in 2013, Devilspit is the brainchild of Körpserizer who released a 2014 demo on Impious Desecration Records. While the demo supplied a fresh 10 tracks of d-beat driven crusty punk-infused black metal, Grim, Hateful, and Drunk sees that album and then raises it considerably.

This album doesn't fit within the bounds of any one genre, honestly, and it'd be tough going to pigeonhole it even for the sake of simplicity. Influences carve a huge swath of artists and albums, from the blackened punk of Darkthrone's Too Old, Too Cold with equal doses of early Hüsker Dü and Joy Division, bookended surreptitiously by early era Bathory and Crass. It's pretty all over the map, but damn it works so well!

The guitar work is a masterfully blended staccato driven tremolo picked flurry of dissonant melodies and buzzsawing distortion. Real craft was put into the transitions within each track here and while there's a heavy set of melody, it's still metal as all fuck. Picked furiously and wildly, you can hear the blood hit the frets on his guitar's neck.

The bass playing is a real highlight, as well. Thunderously low and meaty, it doesn't simply drive the music along with the percussion so much as stomp along in deviantly down-tuned fashion. Other black metal artists ought to take note, this is a new benchmark as far as I'm concerned, and should be heeded as such.

And those drums... goddamn that battery is a treat. Whoever mic'ed the drum set knew what they were doing. Each tom and bass drum hit measured and insanely chunky, and the snare sounds nigh fucking perfect. Rather than assault with the abrasive cacophony of spastic hi-hats and cymbals, they're separated in the mix as well, perfectly nuanced and individual. Put it all together and it just slams.

Körpserizer's vocals are another treasure here. Snarling and spat out venomously one moment and then soaring with reverb drenched delay the next. His lyrics are greatly discernable with a cadence and depth that makes following along easy, especially if you're reading the printed j-card. While there are countless singers you'd like to try comparing them to, they are absolutely unique within this genre.

Altogether this album works to achieve an incredible atmosphere. Drunken and grim to be sure, it's frantic and melancholy and belies it's own sloppiness. These tracks are excellently composed and then executed with a flair most bedroom black metal bands could only hope to match. Between the instrumentation, awesome vocals, and sparse sampling/keys, this is a contender for year end best as far as I'm concerned. Excellent packaging to match, and just a treasure to hold in your hands, this is an album not to be slept on!

You can stream the album HERE

You can buy the album HERE

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