Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: The Devil's Blood - The Thousandfold Epicentre (2012)

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The Thousandfold Epicentre

The Devils Blood - The Thousandfold Epicentre
Shrouding their origins in mystery and theatrically drenching themselves in blood during their live performances, or rituals, Dutch occult rockers The Devil's Blood live and breathe the early-'70s psychedelic horror lifestyle from which they draw inspiration. The band's sophomore full-length, The Thousandfold Epicentre, is an often groovy, though sometimes wayward, tribute to the music and vocal styles that helped define an entire genre of filmmaking and propelled the practice of "dark rites" to mainstream audiences.

If you're old enough to have enjoyed flicks like Messiah of Evil and A Virgin Among the Living Dead on late night TV, or are a member of later generations who discovered these ghoulish treats through the Interwebs, The Thousandfold Epicentre will strike a familiar chord. Psychedelic keys mingle with a sharp '60s guitar tone and mind-altered solos, all bolstered by the organic vocal performance of .... who the hell knows, really. Adopting a set of initials/symbols as a stage name, The Devil's Blood frontwoman is nonetheless a capable, soulful singer that reminds me a lot of Shirley Bassey - particularly on the track "Cruel Lover". Her confident, mid-range style presides over the groovy goings on with a classiness that veils the dark subject matter of her lyrics, making The Thousandfold Epicentre that much more alluring. Her standard delivery is often accentuated with some nicely multi-tracked touches, such as the layered harmonies on "Die the Death" and the ritualistic chants of "On the Wings of Gloria", which also features some background howls and growls from the other initialed member of the band.

The Devils Blood
As the strongest track on The Thousandfold Epicentre, "On the Wings of Gloria" sets the tone early with an irresistible classic rock groove and a head-shaking '60s tone. Distorted and somewhat unrestrained solos join with the aforementioned growls to haunt the otherwise uplifting melodies, reinforcing the overall sense of disarming menace that flows throughout the album. The plucky leads and wistful vocal harmonies carry over to "Die the Death", where frontwoman SL/TDB/A-O reaches a bit higher in her range and adds a soft vibrato to her already potent arsenal. The "Crimson and Clover" memories are dusted off as "Within the Charnel House of Love" gets going, as a bit of psychedelic processing  is added to the vocals to go along with another dose of sharp, groovy guitar.

After the slow gallop of "Cruel Lover", The Thousandfold Epicentre begins to loosen up a bit as more and more ambient moments arrive to push the guitars deeper in the mix. Surrealistic tones blend with disarming orchestration to dominate that latter half of the album, though the prominent bass and plentiful solos of the title track serve to remind that all is not as it seems. The vocals recede to mostly whispers on the final three tracks, while the 15-minute album closer "Feverdance" eventually builds in volume with a nice riff underscored by some scratchy soloing and a bit of a psycho-circus keyboard ambiance.

Non-musical gimmicks aside, The Thousandfold Epicentre is a good album of groovy psychedelic rock. Its strongest moments are mostly confined to the first half of the record, making for a bit of an unbalanced listen, but there's still plenty to satisfy classic rock fans and aficionados of '70s era occult films.

Track Listing
1Unending Singularity2:36
2On the Wings of Gloria7:22
3Die the Death4:11
4Within the Charnel House of Love3:53
5Cruel Lover7:44
7The Thousandfold Epicentre9:20
8Fire Burning5:24
9Everlasting Saturnalia6:31
10The Madness of Serpents8:47
Total Runtime1:17:19

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