Review Summary: Unfocused, potential genius.
I’ll make it no secret that I am a big fan of Devil Doll – their album length narratives, the concepts, the mix of horror movie camp with some truly fantastic instrumentation and of course the ever mysterious presence of one “Mr. Doctor” and his truly demented vocals. But if I’m going to review their albums one by one, I might as well begin with the one that disappointed me most. Sacrilegium, I will admit is still brilliant and contains all the elements of genius, but in which, so few elements are realised.
It’s a confused, unfocused album/track, running the paltry length of 58 minutes (take 15 for silence), and for the most part, the concept is really, really difficult to pick up on. Instrumentally, as always, this is inspired stuff, not too dissimilar in approach to “The Girl Who Was… Death”, instrumental, piano with Sprechgesang, repeat with some changeups. We get epic choirs, sombre piano, some metal guitar as well. Unfortunately, this album, unlike “TGWW…D” feels like a collection of abstract, unrelated pieces, and less unified as a piece. After many listens I distinguished it interweaves two narratives; however both are juggled so haphazardly it loses all effect. As soon as one interesting thread finishes, another seemingly unrelated slice enters.
The mixing feels really abrupt too, simply jumping about and never settling you in enough to keep you invested in the already difficult to discern concept. I mean, I know this is Progressive rock and all, but still, if it’s not structured like a cohesive journey, then all the brilliance of the concept and instrumentation is all for naught. And don’t get me wrong, the concept itself is fascinating and lyrically this is as mysterious and ambiguous as Devil Doll ever got. The instrumentation hits all the right notes, but just not at the right time.
Every time I come back to this album it leaves me feeling like it’s simply incomplete. Whilst this may seem strange to say about a forty plus minute track, the whole affair still feels rushed and not compositionally thought out. Thankfully, this album was realized properly later on in the form of “The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms”, which, despite using the same lyrics and many of the same instrumental passages, remains, ironically, my favourite Devil Doll release.
Because of the overhaul that “TSoFA” offers, this album remains, (at least for me) an unnecessary stopgap in the Devil Doll discography. Whilst taken on its own it’s still quite a stirring and dynamic (if very unfocused) work, it pales before the vastly superior interpretation “The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms” presents. But give it a listen, compare and contrast, you may find it’s superior to the follow-up.