Devilment – Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes – Album Review

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Artist: Devilment

Album Title: Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes

Label: Nuclear Blast

Date of Release: 18 November 2016

No band that features a singer like Dani Filth can ever be considered to be normal or run-of-the-mill. Firstly there’s the voice itself, able to flit between high-pitched shrieks and more gravelly, nefarious tones. His is one of the most recognisable extreme metal voices on the planet. Then there’s the irreverent wit and the dark sarcasm that heavily permeates his lyrics. He’s a larger than life character in many senses of the phrase, something which has led over the years to a situation where people seem to love or hate the diminutive chap.

Personally, I admire Dani a lot. Firstly, anyone who chooses Suffolk as their home clearly has taste. But joking aside, as many will know, I’m a huge Cradle of Filth fan, dating back to the very early days, so his vocals have become something quite special and meaningful for me. Added to this is his song writing ability, particularly where the aforementioned lyrics are concerned. What I think is overlooked by many is his intelligent use of language and his sense of the darkly poetic. At his best, he is able to create some truly brilliant literature that takes on a life of its own within the context of the music he fronts.

So, to hear Dani Filth at the head of another band is something very welcome for me. The band in question is the Ipswich-based extreme metal band Devilment and at the centre of this review is ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’, the band’s sophomore release.

As big a name as Dani Filth is however, to refer to Devilment as his latest new band or project is plainly wrong. And so too is the temptation to focus on the enigmatic frontman at the exclusion of all else. The reason being, Devilment were a band well before Dani’s inclusion having come into being in the latter stages of 2011. Admittedly the slot behind the microphone had been difficult to fill but it was only after a personal invitation from Devilment’s founder (and now departed) Daniel Finch that Dani got involved. Naturally, Dani has made a significant mark on Devilment, making the spot very much his own, but I felt it important to get a few things straight early on in proceedings.

With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’.

Created by lead guitarist Colin Parks, bassist Nick Johnson, drummer Matt Alston and vocalist/keyboardist Lauren Francis alongside Mr Filth, ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’ might be the album that propels Devilment into the consciousness of the wider heavy metal community, including those corners where Dani’s name alone has perhaps not managed to reach. This time, I’d strongly argue that it is the music that speaks loudest and makes the biggest impact rather than any individual performances. That said, the musicians are very adept at their instruments, meaning that the output is of a very high quality.

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Naturally, those familiar with Cradle of Filth will be able to pull out ingredients within the music that have been heavily influenced by them and that’s hardly surprising in many ways. From the Gothic imagery, to the bursts of faster, more extreme instrumentation, the comparisons are there to be drawn. That said, Devilment are, at their core, a very different band and should be lauded as such.

What you get is a much more immediate output, one that focuses on muscular riffs, pounding rhythms, strong melodies, massive amounts of groove and dark Goth vibes. Indeed, the opening track ‘Judas Stein’ is a five-minute distillation of just this. Killer riffs, an almighty groove and bursts of powerful melodies drive this song forward and make it a heady and thoroughly engaging beginning to the album.

‘Hitchcock Blonde’ keeps up the momentum with more in the way of chunky riffing, albeit with a slightly lighter tone to the lyrics. Whilst still dark overall, this song demonstrates the more playful, wicked side of the band. Most importantly though, it is a great song with prominent, slightly hammer-horror keys to accentuate the tone of the track.

What comes through in spades as I listen to this record, is that Devilment have taken a great stride in terms of quality and professionalism. The debut was a good listen but ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’ is a great one. If the debut was quirky and full of rough edges, its follow-up is more honed, smoother and creates a bigger, bolder impact. It is still quirky but in a more subtle, restrained way.

Other personal favourites include ‘Entangled In Our Pride’ which is one of many tracks that features a vocal duet between Dani and Lauren Francis. However, this track catches my ear thanks to a gorgeous chorus that has one foot in melodic hard rock territory whilst being bathed in sinister Goth overtones and imagery.

‘Under The Thunder’ begins with a simple but highly effective riff that bludgeons with style. The mid-tempo stomp marches to the pulse created my bassist Nick Johnson and drummer Matt Alston, whilst Lauren Francis delivers some unsettling sounds and textures via her synth work. The moment where Dani spits ‘here we go’ prior to an increase in intensity and pace is a little cheesy but given what follows, he can be forgiven. He shrieks and howls to the sky before the track opens up into a Cradle-esque beautifully anthemic melody that I adore.

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Equally compelling is ‘Full Dark, No Stars’, thanks to some strong melodies and a slight decrease in the more extreme ingredients. In fact, the voice of Lauren really shines, demonstrating her not inconsiderable vocal talents as she takes centre stage for large parts. ‘Shine On Sophie Moon’ by contrast is, in parts, the fastest and most hedonistic composition on the record, not to mention the most ambitious and varied as well. The quiet, minimalist mid-section with ubiquitous spoken-word delivery from Dani offers a welcome change of pace, allowing the atmospheres to really work their magic.

Closer ‘Hell At My Back’ is, in my opinion, the perfect way to end this highly enjoyable album. It’s every bit as urgent and vital as the opener, ripping through the speakers at a fair speed, accented by interesting modern-sounding synth sounds intermingled with the more standard Goth fare. And I love the more flamboyant lead guitar work that offers serious lashings of melody atop a blast-beat battery, joined by rich piano notes to create a truly grand and powerful conclusion to the album.

The production is one of those areas that has enhanced this record from the debut. Handled in its entirety by Scott Atkins, he has not let his friends in Devilment down. It could have been easy for him to become too close to the band to twiddle the knobs objectively but this is a landmine that has been sidestepped deftly, thus culminating in a bruising sound that does real justice to Devilment’s cacophonic tumult. I particularly enjoy listening to the record on headphones as the whole thing sounds massive and completely intoxicating.

Overall, ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’, is a jolly marvellous romp, full of Gothic darkness, head nodding groove and a sense of twisted and sinister fun. As far as I’m concerned, Devilment have come on leaps and bounds since their debut and are now a name that deserves attention on their own terms. If you’re looking for a Gothic metal album with genuine bite, Devilment are the band for you.

The Score of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

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Brutai – Born
False Coda – Secrets and Sins
Pretty Maids – Kingmaker
In Flames – Battles
The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude Of A Dream
Memoreve – Insignia
Enbound – The Blackened Heart
Blind Ego – Liquid
Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
Hammerfall – Built To Last
Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake
Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze
Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape
Hanging Garden – Hereafter
Theocracy – Ghost Ship
Arkona – Lunaris
Oddland – Origin
Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Edensong – Years In The Garden of Years
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Alcest – Kodama
Opeth – Sorceress
Negura Bunget – ZI
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Amaranthe – Maximalism
Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
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Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
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Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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