Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Devil's Blood : 'The Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars"
The Devils' Blood had a strange break up. A tasteful one , but it left many questions and many more are raised on their post-break up release. One of them being if this album had seen the light of day before the break up would it still have occurred? Because rather than the freedom rock , Fleetwood Mac syrupy rock anthems of " the Thousandfold Epicenter". This album while not as slickly produced pushes the creative boundaries in a more progressive rock direction that would have I think put them in Opeth territory as far as the audience it could reach. It certainly slays the new Ghost album, and delivers the classic rock sound but with more balls. Its a darker album so maybe it reflect where their heads were at in terms of what lead to the break up, suggesting drugs and depression but not creative burn out.
Boldly the album opens with a 20 minute opus called "I was Promised a Hunt" which opens with vocal layers and winding slowly up into a heavier section which even includes forceful , though not growled male vocals, which come from Selim. His sister's voice opens up more and is not all belted out in the same Grace Slick manner as it tended t be on other albums. There are plenty of guitar solos from Selim , who is one of the best live guitarist I have ever seen so its not cumbersome unless you don't have the stomach for solos at all then they were never the band for you to begin with.
The do return to their trademark sound on " Lullaby of the Burning Boy" though even here the darker tone settles over the song, the guitars roll over one another but still leave lots of space. "If not a Vessel?" has a classic seventies boogie to it, with guitar solos blazing from the beginning, but not being overly Foghat there is still a lot of punch it. The Devil's Blood might have always only been metal by association, live they had enough drive to hang with metal bands though even there they would wander off into psychedelic jams. The post chorus chant on "If Not a Vessel?" is cool and the bass player really earned his paycheck on this one, though I often suspect on their albums Selim did more than just play guitar so I tend to look at these as a single product rather than whose doing what.
I might even like this album more than the ones they released while together, due to the fact it is so much darker there are moments where it could be Siouxsie and the Banshees until the guitar solos come in. "In the Loving Arms of Lunacy's Secret Demons" has a Moody Blues swing to it think " I'm Just a Singer In A Rock n roll band". The way the guitar rolls around the snare hits on this is really innovative on Selim's part showing he knows what to do when he is not soloing and I hope he continues to explore other creative outlets outside of his current gig with Watain.
"Dance of the Elements" simmers into its pulsing build, it has a Tool-like quality though I would be surprised if any one in the band listened to much Tool ,so older heavier Pink Floyd might be a better comparison. The majestic nature when the bas drives the song with the wall of guitars creating ambiance behind it reminds me of early King Crimson as well. The guitar dances around the bass where keyboard parts would have been found in early prog.
A biog step of growth is the use of so many varied guitar tones and effects. They form a mystical back drop behind the vocals on a "White Storm of Teeth". There is still a Tool-like brooding to the riffs on this one. The guitars come in a paint a coat of feedback over the tribal pulse, before it allows the song to relax back into the hypnotic movement. The title track, starts off with more of jam like feel, but with harder accents than the Phish crowd would be able to stomach. Not generally a fan of instrumentals these are so well played that guitar work wins me over.
As of right now I'll give this one a 9.5 as some of the more jammy instrumental portion could be trimmed to make this album perfect and are not the sort of songs I see getting lots of constant rotation on my end though would have transitioned well live if we had gotten a change to see them preformed.