Devil Sold His SoulCrushingly heavy, darkly atmospheric, emotionally poignant, and never less than utterly enthralling, DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL combine devastating force and haunting melody in a unique and involving blend that is as hypnotic as it is moving. In the six years since their inception, the band have inspired a passionate and devoted following in the UK underground, touring relentlessly and exercising an extreme level of quality control over their musical output, every release maintaining their signature sound while marking a profound leap forward from that which preceded it.
“We never set out with the intent to be different,” states sampler Paul Kitney, who alongside guitarists Rick Chapple and Jonny Renshaw and original drummer Tom Harriman formed the initial musical core of the band, the four having previously collaborated in the lauded Mahumodo. “We have a wide range of influences, and we just wanted to make heavy music that brought together certain elements that we thought would be really cool but no one else seemed to be doing.”
It didn’t take long for the fledgling band to flesh out their line up with the addition of bassist Iain Trotter and versatile vocalist Ed Gibbs, whose banshee shriek and sky-searing cinematic tones combined with his charismatic stage presence make him one of the most mesmerizing front men in metal. The band took their time fleshing out the songs that would comprise their debut EP, 2005’s “Darkness Prevails”, a record that magnificently articulated the imagination and dark desperation at the heart of everything they do – and true to their word, sounded unlike anyone else.
Two years later, “A Fragile Hope” emerged, their first full-length, embracing an even more epic and volatile sound, pushing everything to the extreme. It is a record driven by throbbing, insistent rhythms and that conveys moods of heartrending melancholy and chilling bleakness, shifting fluidly and effortlessly through passages that are by turn apocalyptically heavy and frail to the point of weightlessness. Once more, the band’s profile grew, assisted by an uncompromising touring schedule which exposed an ever growing army of adherents to their riveting live show, but nothing that has come before could have prepared both devoted fans and casual listeners alike for “Blessed & Cursed”.
“We’ve progressed with every step we’ve taken, and the new album kicks the ass of the last one,” Gibbs states frankly. “If you can’t think of ways to make things better in retrospect then I think you’ve failed in some sense. This record has more to it on every level, every song is different to the last, and it’s going to be impossible to ignore.”
Once again recorded at Renshaw’s studio by the guitarist, who has also produced the likes of Rinoa, the band allowed themselves as much time as was necessary to fully realize their vision, one which allows some light to permeate their shadowy world while carrying their signature sound in new and exciting directions.
“’Darkness Prevails’ was very dark, and ‘A Fragile Hope’ was even darker, and though there is a lot of sorrow and desperation on the new record, we’re also trying to show that even when things are really bad there’s always that hope and optimism that things really can pick up,” Kitney explains, something that Gibbs wholly concurs with. “It takes you on a way more interesting journey than the last record, it’s more of a rollercoaster with constant ups and downs but it really flows together too. I’ve written a lot about human nature, the positive and negative aspects within that sphere, and I often didn’t realize I was doing it, but many of the songs were written in a very negative mindset but end on a more positive note, almost as if reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The fact that “Blessed & Cursed” is a more dynamic, varied beast than “A Fragile Hope”, is made immediately evident by the likes of “Crane Lake” and “The Weight of Faith”, both of which have been previewed live by the band and embraced by their fans. With the former showcasing an expansive, warmer sound that would surely elicit an approving nod from the likes of Mogwai and Isis, and the latter driven by a punchy, mutant groove that will incite mosh pits to explode in a chaotic morass of flailing limbs, there is something truly imposing about DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL in 2010. There is the sense that this is a unit driven by a singular purpose – to envelop and devour everything in their path.
It is the first time they have worked with an outside mixer in order to add some fresh ear and skill: Steve Evetts (Dillinger Escape Plan, Glassjaw, The Cure). Hence, it also made perfect sense to have Alan Douches master “Blessed & Cursed” at West West Side Music. The record also marks the recording debut of drummer Leks Wood, who brings a new and exciting sense of dynamics to the band, and it sees them making the transition from tiny UK indie label Eyesofsound to metal giant Century Media. With their career up until now firmly adhering to a DIY ethic, the band are poised to see their music placed before a worldwide audience and the kind of exposure they have long deserved. “The fact that it’s a global release makes it a whole different ballgame,” enthuses Kitney. “Doing the whole DIY thing is difficult, but we’re really, really proud of what we’ve managed to do in the UK and we want to keep building and building on that, because our fans are amazing, they keep us going. We’ve been bubbling under the surface for years and we haven’t been able to break all the way through, and now that we’ve got Century Media behind us it gives us the opportunity to take on the world properly.”
The band are undoubtedly in it for the long haul and will be once again playing anywhere and everywhere they can as they bring “Blessed & Cursed” to the masses. And while global acclaim and success surely awaits them, the band remain humble about their achievements and aspirations. “The story of our career has been one of a slow, steady build,” says Gibbs, “but I think in a way you build a much more positive fan base doing it that way rather than being the fashionable band that suddenly grows a fan base overnight, because those same fans can drop you just as fast when fashions change.”
“Normally when people come into contact with our music they tend to like it,” adds Kitney, “we have something there that people really latch on to, so it’s just about getting it out there, and now we’re ready to take it everywhere.”
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