Review Summary: Their Loss is our gain.
Life is challenging. Sometimes going about one’s daily life feels like an unpredictable slog through occasional peaks and numerous valleys - and after 2020, it’s safe to say most have been trudging through an extended low point in their journey. Relationships have been placed on ice, lives have been cut short, and existence had been smothered in worry, stress, and uncertainty. After the past year, it’s been made clear we’re not guaranteed anything in life, whether it’s a reunion, another chance, or even another moment.
Fortunately for Devil Sold His Soul, the band was given all three.
For those unaware, Devil Sold His Soul formed in 2004. From their origins until 2013 the band released a debut extended play, Darkness Prevails
, and three subsequent full length albums, A Fragile Hope
, Blessed & Cursed
, and Empire of Light
with lead vocalist Ed Gibbs. Ed departed from the outfit after the release of Empire of Light
and Paul Green of the Arusha Accord stepped in as the frontman. Output slowed to a crawl as only one extended play and a handful of singles were released until Devil Sold His Soul were on the brink of disbanding.
Prior to dissolving, the band decided to play an anniversary tour celebrating the release of A Fragile Hope
which led to a reunion with Gibbs. The decision was made to pair Gibbs with Green to sing and scream as a team. The performances were enthusiastically received and led to an inadvertent rebirth of the band.
Devil Sold His Soul spent the next three years penning new music for the first time around both vocalists. Inspiration was overflowing not only because of the reignited passion within the band, but also due to the death of drummer Alex Wood’s mother, various members of the band grappling with anxiety and depression, and the dread which arrived with the Coronavirus epidemic early in 2020. Despite these challenges, Devil Sold His Soul were given another chance to release an album to a wide audience after a extended absence - and they’ve made the most of that opportunity.
is the sound of a band fully realizing their strengths. Nearly every one of these ten towering songs on offer mirror the highs and lows of life and are utterly drenched in emotion. “Ardour” opens with sparse piano notes before exploding with driving guitars and impassioned screaming. Seconds later, Gibbs and Green are heard unleashing their soaring tenors over the soundscape. The opener trades mayhem with melody until the bridge when everything suddenly folds into shimmery guitars not unlike those found on an early Jimmy Eat World ballad. “Ardour” serves as the first glimpse of the unpredictable, yet captivating songwriting showcased here.
One track later, “Burdened” opens with an almost blackgaze assault before slipping into calming, pensive verses. At the four minute mark the piece swells into a soaring crescendo with dual vocals, driving drums, and anthemic guitars resulting in a near out of body experience. Before one can catch their breath, the hushed, bright tremolo guitar work of “Tateishi” evolves into massive power chords and an anthem for survival in the face of desperation. Here, the vocal work of Gibbs and Green is on full display. From Green’s slightly deeper crooning to Gibbs’ soaring, high pitched belting the chemistry of the two vocalists and their melodic interplay above the euphoric musical foundation is simply breathtaking. “Tateishi”, despite probably being the most stunning moment on the tracklist, is but only one incredible moment in an album chock full of them.
“The Narcissist” rages and roars in the vein of old school Architects without a shred of beauty. “The Signal Fire” burns bright from the very beginning before smoldering out with longing singing and “Beyond Reach”, while fairly straightforward compared to the other lengthier tunes, might be the perfect intersection of post-hardcore and metalcore.
While all of the aforementioned pieces are incredible in their own right, Devil Sold His Soul reserve their best two songs for last. “But Not Forgotten” unfolds over seven minutes with gloomy undertones of post-rock and the towering shadows of post-metal. After roughly five minutes, the band ascends from the depths and floats among the heavens for an enthralling, breathtaking outro. Isolated piano echoes at the beginning of closer and title-track “Loss”. Written specifically in tribute to Wood’s mother, the lyrics capture the trying process of wrestling with the unexpected death of a loved one. It’s difficult to refrain from choking up when Gibbs and Green trade heartfelt lyrics such as “The sadness always comes in waves/I’ll learn to live with it someday/Although it will never truly leave/Life will grow around our grief
” and “‘Cause you’re in every memory that I own/And I’d give up everything to make another one with you/And I hope we meet again
” - and when the piece culminates in one last surge of emotion with Gibbs screaming “It’s all that I have left
” it’s easy to feel the anguish and sorrow of the moment.
In fact, it’s easy to relate to the whole of Loss
because life is difficult. This entire past year has been exhausting, stressful, and terrifying for us all and the beauty of Loss
is how therapeutic these songs can be to our souls.
After a reunion with Gibbs, another chance to release a full length album, and an opportunity to process the peaks and valleys of life, it’s ironic then that Devil Sold His Soul named their album Loss
because in the process of writing these timeless songs they’ve gained so much - and so will listeners who decide to give these six men and their magical music a chance.