Devil Sold His Soul
Blessed & Cursed


5.0
classic

Review

by Benjamin Bland USER (14 Reviews)
August 21st, 2010 | 315 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The sound of a band that is totally at peace with itself and what it is meant to achieve

From the second that the drums and bass join the ambient soundscapes at the beginning of opening track ‘Tides’ it should be obvious that ‘Blessed & Cursed’ is going to be a pretty special album. Then the growled vocals of Ed Gibbs enter the fray and that hope that this is going to be a brilliant record is solidified into something much more, a belief and confidence in Devil Sold His Soul to produce one of the best metal records of the 21st century. This album is the result of six band members coming together, in total musical cohesion with one another and producing the absolute best that they possibly can.

As with the band’s first record, the ambient influences are still there alongside the shimmering, earth shuddering guitars. They still aren’t a band that is big on showy displays of technicality. Not for them the overriding focus on crazy time signatures like Meshuggah or the virtuoso performances like Dream Theater. You certainly won’t get guitar solos from the pairing of Jonny Renshaw and Richard Chapple. Yet this album is every bit as progressive and forward thinking as most of the metal bands out there currently classed as such. For it is ever so rare for a metal album to achieve such magnificence in the fields of both immaculate beauty and devilish ferocity, often at the same time. As a vocalist Gibbs has come on immensely since the early days of the band with clean vocals (perhaps a little too whiny for some) being mixed with growls to great effect and, to the great credit of the songwriting on display here, often seamlessly. Take second track ‘Drowning/Sinking’ which switches from the guttural to choral sounding vocals without coming across at all strange or ‘An Ocean of Lights’ which sees the melodic vocals come to the fore alongside the melodic sampling of Paul Kitney.

Indeed the ambient influences of the band are still obvious, leading to a record that, no matter how heavy it may be at times, still maintains an aura of restraint as orchestral peace punctuates the often mercilessly dense riffs. Meanwhile the band are still masters of creating build-ups that are never too long but still lead to a song that sounds epic enough to make hairs on the back of necks stand up. ‘Frozen’ starts like a Red Sparowes song with chiming guitars leading the way to a more frenzied later section before stepping into calmness once again. ‘The Disappointment’ however sounds more like a hardcore song for much of its duration with Andrew Neufeld of Comeback Kid lending his vocals to Gibbs’ to create a crushing answer to any metalhead who dared to suggest that this record lacked a little in the balls department. Song lengths are almost always spot on, a rarity in the more experimental side of metal these days in which many bands seemingly feel obliged to let their songs go on for twice as long as they need to. Aforementioned opener ‘Tides’ may only be three and a half minutes in length but it is still just as strong as songs such as ‘Callous Heart’ ‘A Foreboding Sky’ which are allowed to progress for twice that time. Once again this shows the band being in control, capable of trimming the excess fat off their creation.

Interestingly, whereas the band’s debut record ‘A Fragile Hope’ had an atmosphere that focused, to say the least, on the bleaker side of the metal spectrum, ‘Blessed & Cursed’ actually makes for surprisingly positive listening. The surges in noise are far from being full of anger and tension but instead sound wonderfully life-affirming at times; take the climax to ‘Callous Heart’ as a strong example. Lyrically the subject matter may be dark enough to be firmly in metal territory but the way, musically and vocally, in which they are presented makes the overall sound often uplifting rather than angry.

Devil Sold His Soul are still difficult to categorise. Some will undoubtedly choose to label them as an Isis alike post-metal band but there is something more here. While there is certainly atmosphere in abundance there is still an obvious focus on creating songs. Take penultimate track ‘Truth Has Come’ with its scream along refrain of “I cannot believe it has come to this / I am the truth and I am the mirror held up for everyone to see” that engrains itself in the listener’s head from first listen. Furthermore, no matter how the elegant soundscapes may suggest otherwise, this is still a band writing music that will see metal kids up and down the country form circle pits and mosh to their hearts content. Indeed it’s quite difficult to listen to this album without becoming absorbed in the music and reacting in some way, whether that is furious air drumming or headbanging or even just closing your mind to all the other distractions in the world around you and just focusing purely on the all-consuming sound of this incredible album. This is a truly special work and, while it certainly will not be to the taste of everyone, Devil Sold His Soul deserve enormous credit for delivering it.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2010


7360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review, pos'd. I only listened to it once, but I liked it and it sounded like something I should put more effort into, so I'll probably end up getting it at some point.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2010


7360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also you've started a new page when the album alreday had one... you'll need to ask the mods to fix that..

bodiesinflight57
August 21st 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I didn't create a new one on purpose, I selected the one that was already there but for some reason it's created a new one (confused)

Thanks for the positive comment and yeah you should get it.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2010


7360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ah, thats happened with me before, just ask the mods to fix it

TBliss
August 21st 2010


987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album just rules

Iamthe Nightstars
August 21st 2010


2286 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How is this compared to A Fragile Hope? I listened to AFH a while ago but don't remember liking it a whole lot.

BigTuna
August 22nd 2010


5160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I do not like the vocals

Digging: Yellowcard - Lift a Sail

nagstar89
August 22nd 2010


71 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^Yeah the unclean vocals did sound bad in the first album,but this time around it sounds far better.awesome album btw..good review btw..pos'd

bodiesinflight57
August 22nd 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, and it's comfortably better than AFH. At first I wasn't sure but having listened to this about 15 times in the last 2 weeks I'm pretty sure now.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2010


8371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review, great album. I disagree a little about this being heavy (especially when I put this up against A Fragile Hope, I can not bring myself to call this heavy), but whatever. Glad this got a review

RandMcNally
August 22nd 2010


158 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If I could only ever listen to one album for the rest of my life, it would be this.

natey
August 22nd 2010


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

feels less intense than A Fragile Hope did, and more cradle of filthy kinda over stringy for my taste, but I'm only just listening

rooby
August 28th 2010


20 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

screams may get annoying after a couple songs. also, there's actually not much variation. even so i like it

jingledeath
August 28th 2010


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

5 is a bit too much but yeah good album

crazycobs
August 30th 2010


114 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Amazingly beautiful album! and a great review!

fromtheinside
August 30th 2010


18717 Comments


so i was rec'd this, i guess it's worth the find.

Digging: Devin Townsend Project - Z2

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2010


8371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it is

2muchket!
August 31st 2010


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is absolutely amazing still

Deathcar
September 10th 2010


1534 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This kills A Fragile Hope.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2010


22011 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wow. I'm checking this out

Digging: Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream



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