en: Blessed & Cursed (Devil Sold His Soul album) [info]
The majestic hardcore sound that Devil Sold His Soul made their own with 2007 debut album A Fragile Hope was one that got tongues wagging about the UK sextet being one of the finest underground bands around. Releasing this follow-up via Century Media Records is a tangible progression in both status and style.
The dipping, plunging guitars that greet you from the start of The Disappointment give way to gentler, more expansive sounds that rebuild the song to a cathartic climax. It's a climax that takes the best part of seven minutes to reach and it's one in which vocalist Ed Gibbs gives a full lungful with every scream. This, in itself, is nothing strange because 40 per cent of songs on their debut were lengthier numbers where Gibbs rattled and rasped his vocal chords; but everything is bigger and better with this album.
Eight of these 10 songs last over five minutes - a pop album this is not. As with any song that lasts longer than the radio-dictated 200 seconds, DSHS are easy to label epic and progressive. While that immediately pigeonholes them into a brand of progressive metal that Cult of Luna and Isis pioneered over the last decade or so, there's something inherently British about their output. It's a beautiful thing.
While the sight and sound of Gibbs reading a strongly worded letter to some people far, far away has become almost customary in some circles, the restraint and harnessing of his vocal talents really stands out here. While the throat shredding is still wholly evident, he complements the melodies with clean singing frequently, like on An Ocean of Lights, which has one of the most apt titles you'll hear this year.
It's their ability to absolutely nail a crescendo that really marks Devil Sold His Soul out as one of the most talented British bands around at the moment. After years of honing their talents, they have mastered the art forms of suspense and climax, and this album is as fulfilling an end product as they ever could have hoped for.