Devilment – The Great and Secret Show (Nuclear Blast)

Wednesday, 15th October 2014
Rating: 9.5/10

Unloose a smattering of groove-laden, horror-oriented tracks; enlist the services of an internationally renowned frontman; and name your debut full-length after a Clive Barker novel and you’re bound to attract a few ears and eyeballs your direction. At least that’s certainly the case for guitarist Daniel Finch’s Devilment project. Of course, though, acquiring attention and holding it are vastly different endeavors, but fortunately, this new outfit proclaims unequivocally that it is as committed to the follow-through as it is to the initial ensnarement, premiering an LP that exceeds expectations in every conceivable manner.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this release is that it verily defies subgenre classification (a rarity in today’s metal climate). The tried-and-true formulae of hard rock–metal fusion riffing that permeate many tracks on this album are offset by slight industrial influence in “Summer Arteries” while “Laudanum Skull” boasts a goth rock–style chorus (complete with melancholy yet entrancing female vocals courtesy of keyboardist Lauren Francis) and “The Stake in My Heart” culls together influences as far-flung as early thrash, hardcore, and more-modern metal. Add to this the expertly layered instrumentation, ranging from subtle piano coloration to sitar and violin, and you have a richly textured album that yields a new discovery with every re-excavation.

Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth’s voice is tailor-made for Devilment, the grooving riffs complementing his natural cadence at every turn. His approach differs, however, from his primary project as he utilizes his midrange rasp foremost, driving home the more-direct Devilment approach as opposed to the operatic grandiosity of Cradle. The death metal–inspired lows and patented pteranodon shrieks still appear but with much more scrupulous placement, functioning as punctuation more than predicate.

Somewhere between heaviness and melody, bluntness and embellishment, despairing horror and camp, Devilment have found a village from which they can build an empire. The unapologetic eclecticism of The Great and Secret Show is a case study in just how exquisitely unique a labor of creativity and artistry sans pretension can be, and portends only of greater labors to come.

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