Released: September 17th
A steaming hot mug of coffee first thing in the morning. Black. So black it could be velvet. The bubbles rest on the velvet as if they’re on show in a jewellery shop window, winking at you as the early-morning sun glares down. In your early-morning state, you take a seat, letting the remnants of sleep fall away, and, without thinking, sip at your coffee. It’s boiling-hot to touch, let alone drink, but your memory fails you and as the liquid flows past your lips and rests on your tongue – if only for a split second – the lava-warmth of it burns but you’ve got nowhere to spit it out apart from your mug so you embrace the angry senses chasing each other through your body and swallow it, but that was a bad idea because it’s burned your throat now and your eyes are starting to water. Wait, though. It may have burned but it really does taste good, and just by looking at it you want to have another taste. But you resist, and just savour the taste, letting yourself awaken and enjoying the smell emanating from the mug, swirling around the air.
This mug of coffee is just like Devil Sold His Soul. The band awakens your senses and lulls you slowly, just like that coffee. If you’re not prepared, they’ll bite. But if you’ve done your homework, you’ll be more than willing to dip in for more and the bites won’t be chasing you down. The taste of their music is so alive, so vibrant, and so fresh that you could call them the black coffee of the music industry. But that doesn’t sound too good, does it? Let’s just say that the band have the ability to move even the most sturdiest of men, to affect a statue’s emotions and can, and have, changed lives.
Darkness Prevails was their first release, followed by the hugely critically acclaimed A Fragile Hope. The next album was Blessed & Cursed – which was also lauded favourably – and now, we come to their newest piece of material, Empire of Light. The band have achieved an almost cult-like following through the years, many people holding them directly responsible for getting them through even the most rockiest of paths and it’s fair to say that the band is mentioned with golden tongues whenever they arise in conversations. If the devil did sell his soul to create this band, then we should all be thankful.
Empire of Light sees the band growing even more, polishing an already gleaming surface and directing their sound to an even bigger magnitude. You won’t need that coffee in the morning – just blast this album.
No Remorse No Regrets kicks the album off. And what a kick it is, too. A trademark ambient-tinged opening is broken apart by the frenzied vocals of Ed Gibbs, along with a smattered drum-beat and a blunt guitar-riff which transgresses into more mellow pastures before shooting off into the song’s structure like a controlled explosion destroying a years-vacated building. This building crumbles to the ground just as the clean vocals of Gibbs enters the fray, with the deeply-embedded bass-line providing a safety net for the stray rocks to fall onto. The track ends sparsely, with the vocals ringing in your head like an addictive amphetamine.
It Rains Down brings memories of hazy winter days, of fields and houses rushing past as you look out through a car window smeared with a downpouring. The gentle guitar and the delicate vocals lulls you into a placid state and just as the memories cloud your vision, Gibbs pulls you out of the shimmering pool of times gone and times past with a ruthless scream. You awake. The guitars are now abrasive and crushing, and you’ll find yourself fighting against the walls of sound, but it’s pointless. You’ll get swallowed up, anyway. The melody is your only way out, and you find that light, and follow it. You’re now riding on a crest of harmony and pulverising sound; enjoy it while it lasts. Possibly the most effective track on the album.
Salvation Lies Within starts with a synth-sample of full-bodied beats that’s impossible not to nod along to. A rising and flowing synth line then joins the fray and the effect is haunting. It’s like being in a cathedral where the sound carries like a flock of birds. Gibbs’ hushed and soothing vocals provide respite from the dominant synth and you’ll find yourself humming along to the harmony. The melody rises and falls until the end and you’ll be wrapped in the opaque warmth of the track until it fades away.
End Of Days ends the album on an epic, sprawling note. Over 9 minutes long, and over 9 minutes of jilted, hooky melody makes for an effect that’ll have you hanging on until the end. And then you’ll press the repeat button. The track will be a favourite for fans of ISIS and Cult of Luna, simply because of the sheer depth and slow-burning guitar progression. The reservoir of sound entices you but be sure not to jump too far in – you may never find your way to the surface. Thrive in the suffocation this track provides.
This is an album that’s been waited for, and the waiting was worth it. Devil Sold His Soul now have the momentum of a runaway train and there won’t be anything stopping it, or them, for any time yet.