British band Devilment have released their second album entitled The Mephisto Waltzes. The album was released through Nuclear Blast on the 14th of November and is the follow up to the well received, by most, The Great and Secret Show which was released in 2014. We weren’t particularly blown away by the debut album, as you can probably tell by our review. The thing is, Dani Filth has a particular set of vocals and a particular style and you could make him the singer of AC/DC and he will still sing like he does in his demonic, earsplitting shrieks and guttural growls. If Dani is in the band, for better or worse, there are going to be strong links to Cradle of Filth and strong comparisons drawn. As a big fan of Cradle of Filth, Devilment’s first album fell way short of the mark. In fact, in their relatively short existence, they seem to be more well known for disagreements and member changes. Having originally struggled to tie down a singer, Dani applied for, and got, the job and within a very short period of time, founding members quit and the band had to start again. Now I am not saying it is because of Dani, though we do know Cradle are infamous for member changes, but when he came into the band two things happened. The first was that they started getting talked about and enjoyed all the publicity that came with having a big name metal star like Dani Filth in your band but the second thing was that there were obviously disagreements between the founding member of Devilment, guitarist Daniel J Finch, and the newest member leading to big changes. For a little more on that, why not check out our interview with Daniel where he touches on the Devilment split as well as introduces his newest band to us.
Well the new album, The Mephisto Waltzes, has been released under a more settled band with only the one change on drums since the last clear-out with Aaron Boast being replaced by Matt Alston. Unfortunately, for me, it still hasn’t translated into a great album. The Mephisto Waltzes is a bit of a conundrum to me really. I can hear great moments, great musicianship and song structure. There is a good blend of heavy riffing and melodic, orchestral atmosphere. The vocals are as strong as you would expect from Dani Filth, the female vocals provided by keyboardist Lauren Francis are great and there are loads of banging drum beats but still, something isn’t quite right. I can’t quite put my finger on it but most of the songs end up to me as “okay” and just lacking a little oomph or bite to elevate them from okay to great. perhaps I am subconsciously comparing it to Cradle, but why wouldn’t I? The songs are Cradle like, the vocals are Dani Filth’s Cradle style, they even have a female keyboardist providing backing vocals just like Cradle. Everything about this band screams Cradle except for their quality. Like I said, that isn’t to say that Devilment are rubbish. They aren’t. They just sound and feel like a watered down version of Dani’s main band.
The album has 11 tracks on it and is 61 minutes long which is pretty long for an album these days though 2 of those are bonus songs. It starts off with the track JudasStein which has a good drumming intro over some atmospheric keyboard effects before Dani joins in with his guttural growls and shrieks. Despite a heavy start, it settles into a steady, slower rhythm for the majority of the rest of the song with Dani’s vocals layered over a decent enough riff and verses separated by some low thumping drums and effects. it all sounds fine, it is just a little boring, a little safe. It does pick up near the end with a fine guitar solo and an increase in the pace of the riff and the vocals. This is a similar thing with a lot of the songs on the album. Under the Thunder is similar with a heavy start before slowing down a bit and becoming pretty bog standard though the choruses which utilise Lauren Francis’ vocals are enjoyable. Shine on Sophie Moone starts off at a rip roaring pace before descending into a bit of a muddle with a very uninspiring chorus. The song appears to be about there favourite porn stars or something, or at least that is what you get if you google Shine on Sophie Moone – very edgy. The last two minutes of this song are great though with Colin Parks playing some mesmerising lines on his axe, drumming that keeps switching tempo and a chugging bass line.
Life is What You Keep From the Reaper is another slower tempo one but starts off with a great guitar lead and rhythmic drumming before some pretty dull verses and off beat sounding choruses where Dani and Lauren mix their vocals a bit. The song switches to a really dirty, low and bassy tone with Dani’s vocals sounding like rhythmic chanting near the end and that section is very good but not good enough to save a pretty average song. Speaking of average songs, Hitchcock Blonde is not one I really liked much at all. Lyrically it didn’t do anything for me despite seeming to be very popular among fans. The slow down for effects between each verse and the name dropping of all the different blondes that starred in Hitchcock films just makes it all seem a little silly to me.
It isn’t all bad though, Hell at My Back is a very good song. It starts with a big sounding guitar solo before being joined by vocals and then drums. The drums take over the pace and speed everything up. Vocals are spat out at pace and keyboards are pushed to the background as the guitar leads this song. It is probably both the heaviest and most Cradle like song on the whole album which may explain why I like it so much, oh, and it has an epic guitar solo on it. Full Dark, No Stars is also one I quite like. It is, again, a guitar driven song with some great vocal work from Lauren Francis and Dani Filth. It is a slow, gothic ballad mostly that works well thought the pace picks up a little, for a little, near the end.
This is really how the album played out for me – I listened to it a few times, I tried, but it just doesn’t quite fit. There are strong musical moments coupled with strong vocals but they are fleeting moments within tracks with the best track on the album, Hell at My Back, coming near the end of the album. If it wasn’t for the purpose of reviewing, I may not have made it that far.
A couple good tracks, a lot of boring tracks with good moments and a couple tracks I really didn’t enjoy at all. It just still feels like it is missing something to me, or I am missing something, and while I can appreciate the great musicianship from the band along with Dani’s and Lauren’s vocals, as complete songs, they just sound a little lacking.
Still, as a band they are growing in popularity so you should definitely check them out yourself, it might work for you. It obviously does for many people so you might love it. Me, I am off to listen to Hammer of the Witches.
Full Track Listing –
Under The Thunder
Full Dark, No Stars
Shine on Sophie Moon
Life is What You Keep From the Reaper
Dea Della Morte
Entangled in Our Pride
Hell at My Back
The Seductive Poison (Bonus)
Father Dali (Bonus)
Devilment II - The Mephisto Waltzes (Nuclear Blast)