Devil Sold His Soul

Empire Of Light

Written by: AP on 06/11/2012 12:41:07

The United Kingdom is accumulating an excellent reputation with birthing some of the best post-rock and post-metal bands in the world. With the likes of Devil Sold His Soul - the subject of this review, *shels, Ancients, The Elijah, The Mire and Rinoa (now defunct) at the forefront, it seems that the country has a unique set of circumstances necessary to lay the foundations for dramatic, atmospheric music that provokes thought, evokes feelings, and expands the mind. All three elements are present on this, Devil Sold His Soul's fourth studio album "Empire of Light", which follows a critically acclaimed masterpiece two years ago in "Blessed & Cursed".

There is an instant accessibility to "Empire of Light" that separates it from Devil Sold His Soul's backlog, with shorter and sharper songs providing more direct satisfaction than the meandering post-metal colossi that originally defined their sound. Usuall such a redirection would send every warning bell bleeping and every red right flashing, but here the transition has been executed so graciously, and with such attention to detail, that you're likely to forget the relative brevity of the songs altogether. Fear not, Devil Sold His Soul have not ventured into radio territory just yet, as the vast majority of tracks on "Empire of Light" still span well beyond the 4-minute mark and contain the same grandeur and punch as before. They have simply been compressed into songs that are easier to digest, more memorable, and, consequently, easier to appreciate from the get-go.

The fact is, "Empire of Light" is so awash with highlights that it would be futile to begin describing them all. I could ramble on for eternity about the way "No Remorse, No Regrets" patiently evolves from punishing metalcore churn into a dramatic crescendo; how "A New Legacy" gives new meaning to the word uplifting with an absolutely enormous soundscape of towering riffs, layered leads in various tones, and a backdrop of cinematic synths and samples; or the way in which "The Waves and the Seas" incorporates ethereal refrains of"whoa-eh-oh-eh-oh-ah" into its gentle progressions; and it still wouldn't do justice to the band's ability to take a mood, an atmosphere, and give it a sound.

Some fans tending to Devil Sold His Soul's older material may find the increased emphasis on clean vocals a bit hard to swallow, especially as Ed Gibbs' singing itself is prone to divide the masses. But even though his slightly nasal delivery - some might even go as far as to call it a tad whiny - takes some adjusting before its purpose in the band's music can be fully understood, the conclusion that I at least must draw is that without it, the likes of the already mentioned "A New Legacy", "VIII" and "It Rains Down" would lose an integral part of the whole, and become anonymous metal songs instead of the hugely optimistic art metal pieces they presently are.

In its current format, the music on "Empire of Light" provides the soundtrack to life's most contemplative moments. You will have to excuse my pretension, but I can think of nothing better to accommodate gazing at the horizon at the Pacific Coast on Vancouver Island and trying to comprehend the vastness of this world than a song like "The Waves and the Seas"; staring at the unbelievable canopy of stars in the Sahara desert whilst listening to "End of Days"; or enjoying the grey landscape and autumn rain of Denmark during the morning commute to the tune of "A New Legacy". This, to me, is the defining characteristic of Devil Sold His Soul's accomplishment here; how it facilitates a personal connection through the formation of one's own mental imagery from the sounds and lyrics.

There is a frightening consistency to the material on "Empire of Light" that suggests Devil Sold His Soul are one of the most talented bands in the United Kingdom right now. The band's grasp on juxtaposing crushing heaviness and heavenly beauty is nothing short of masterful, and although "Empire of Light" certainly has its momentary lapses of quality, such as the slightly inconsequential mid-album tracks "Time and Pressure" and "Salvation Lies Within", it packs enough quality to be deemed one of the best albums released this year - just as "Blessed & Cursed" deserved such praise two years ago. Truly, Devil Sold His Soul have transgressed the boundaries of a single genre and become a hugely exciting prospect in atmospheric music - probably the best the United Kingdom has to offer now that Rinoa disbanded two years ago.


Download: A New Legacy, VIII, The Waves and the Seas, Crusader, End of Days
For the fans of: *shels, Ancients, The Elijah, Envy, Rinoa
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.09.2012
Small Town Records

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