Devil Sold His Soul
Blessed & Cursed
12 July 2010
by Andy Parker
Three years, 3 years, ferrr-reeee years have passed since Devil Sold His Soul’s debut full-length, A Fragile Hope. For three whole years I have waited, and waited and waited some more for a new record from the most refreshing progressive metal band I have ever heard.
Blessed & Cursed sees a change in direction for DSHS, albeit a minor one. Where A Fragile Hope was epic, melodic and heavy as a bag of spanners, Blessed & Cursed is epic, melodic, and at times as heavy as a bag of spanners. See, it’s the subtler differences that have a bigger impact.
Vocalist Ed Gibbs has matured slightly, something which was becoming clear during recent tours, whether it be from coaching, issues with vocal stress, it would be unfair to judge. For the most part, it has only heightened the way in which he compliments the luscious call and response guitar work of Rick Chapple and Jonny Renshaw. Passages are more pronounced, and yes, there is a great deal more singing – even a couple of clear singalong moments – but as shown on teaser single ‘Callous Heart’, the barking dog is still there when it wants to be.
At times, DSHS come across more like Mogwai than Pelican, but the signature sound which they’ve slowly crafted over the last decade is distinct. It has become impossible to not spot that quiet to loud crescendo that Chapple is capable of producing without falter time after time ‘Frozen’ is a prime example of this. It is a passage which screams Chapple – I say that rather than being an ass and stating that it could easily have appeared on a post-Aprils Mahumodo record. The sound is strong.
It has also given Paul Kitney an opportunity to come through in the mix a bit more with tracks like opener ‘Tides’ with it string arrangements adding textures that were absent from earlier work, the aforementioned ‘Frozen’ and ‘A Foreboding Sky’ also benefit from accompaniment.
Watch a “promo” for ‘Callous Heart’ by Devil Sold His Soul:
That leaves us with one of the most important parts of the DSHS assembly line – the powerhouse back-line of bassist Ian Trotter and drummer Leks Woods. Their granite-like force is impeccable. I was at first concerned that the emphasis on other instrumentation was going to force the effectiveness of their powerful bass lines to the sidelines, losing the power A Fragile Hope displayed on tracks like ‘As The Storm Unfolds’ or ‘The Coroner’ for example, but my fears were swiftly crushed by the rattling melody and juggernaut beats being held under the venom in ‘The Weight Of Faith’.
Sounds Like: Rinoa, Kill Sadie, Cult Of Luna distilled and poured over ice.
Top Tracks: Crane Lake, An Ocean Of Lights, Truth Has Come
Devil Sold His Soul – Blessed & Cursed tracklisting:
An Ocean Of Lights
A Foreboding Sky
The Weight Of Faith
Truth Has Come