Originally written by Matt Longo
We in metal circles sure dig Old Scratch. He’s clawed his way into our imagery, themes, and often, band names. His own moniker mutates, and everything from Mephistopheles to Satan to Belial to Baphomet to Azazel to Lucifer is used, but there’s just something… I dunno… brazen about simply choosing The Devil. And to extrapolate this into the music suggests motives surreptitiously sinister — a deliberate attempt to mirror our own actions, to invite examination of the self and species, to reveal …despite the famous Baudelaire line in their promo: “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. Folks, The Devil exists because Man exists, and with heavily-sampled, synth-drenched, monolithic riffs, this band becomes a veritable Modern Prometheus.
Opener “Divinorum” sounds like a lost ISIS warm-up, and The Devil is quite a bit more primitive by comparison. The track only lasts a couple of minutes, and given what follows throughout the album, almost feels like an intro rather than a proper song. Though purely instrumental with their original material, all speech is sampled, and there’s a surprising skid toward aliens (particularly the Roswell incident) on the following “Universe”. Originally released this past New Year’s Day, complete with video, we witness their exhaustive structuring of sound bytes to form narrative. Most musicians would likely harvest a poignant clip and incorporate that into an original composition with their own lyrics, whereas The Devil juxtaposes samples of found footage, frequently in montage.
After hearing The Devil’s entire self-titled debut first and watching the two videos afterward, it seems their message communicates better with more senses engaged. True, it was sometimes difficult to tell exactly where they stood, because amidst intriguing archival footage that may still defy logical explanation was also Alien Autopsy bullshit from FOX. Oh, and those crop circles — pretty cool, yeah, but what is this: The Devil or The Mowing-Devil?
The band’s second single (“Extinction Level Event”) was released two months and two days after their premiere. More fact-based and focused around atomic age development, it features several famous speeches by Truman, LBJ, Sagan, and others. Coupled with the actual footage of explosion experiments, it definitely had maximum impact. But damned if I don’t hear Metallica’s “Orion” during that tune every time.
Speaking of which, someone has to tell me if I’m the only one hearing “Shot in the Dark” about to start during the first minute in “World of Sorrow”. My extra-tangential brain thought it appropriate that The Devil would invoke the Prince of Darkness, with an even stronger tie to the 9/11 conspiracy fodder throughout the track. A sneaking suspicion says it’s all connected, but that’s on spurious grounds. Beyond that, there is so much quoted territory to cover: JFK (“Devil & Mankind”), Jiddu Krishnamurti (“Akashic Enlightenment”), MLK (“Intervention”), H.G. Wells vs. George H.W. Bush (“Illuminati”), Carl Jung (“Alternative Dimensions”), and a bunch more you can look up yourself.
And similar to a certain spectral Swedish quintet with anonymous members (you know the one), The Devil has only shown themselves behind mask and shroud. Their mystique works well, and though the music could be more deeply meaningful overall, The Devil has clearly scrawled a crooked left hand path.