Sometimes a little goes a long way, and that can definitely be said about British post-hardcore band, Devil Sold His Soul and their latest EP. Clocking in at just over 24 minutes, Belong ╪ Betray packs a real wallop (and pulls at the heartstrings) in its relatively short running time. Devil Sold His Soul is actually a really important band for me now that I think about it, as they are probably the first “post” band that I ever heard; years before I even heard the terms “post-metal” or “post-hardcore”.
RELEASE DATE: 17 November 2014 LABEL: Basick Records
All the way back in 2006/2007 when I was just getting into metal, I used to catch the metal show “Headbanger’s Ball” on MTV and often the music video for “Like It’s Your Last” would play. I absolutely adored that song. In the years since then, Devil Sold His Soul released three full length albums which I unfortunately could never really get into, even when I well and truly started listening to and enjoying “post” musical genres. With the release of Belong ╪ Betray my feelings towards Devil Sold His Soul have changed considerably and I now find myself enjoying them once more as I did all those years ago.
The aptly named album opener “Devastator” starts things off on Belong ╪ Betray with quite the bang! Shimmering guitar chords play over beautiful electronic samples and meander in and out of absolutely ferocious verses. Paul Green (formerly of the Arusha Accord), who took over vocal duties following long time vocalist Ed Gibbs’ departure , absolutely slays on vocals and brings power and presence that I feel always lacked on the band’s previous releases. “Devastator” packs quite the emotional punch with Paul Green pouring his heart and soul out over the massive sound of the guitars and drums. The main riff of the song is immense and will resonate for days in any listener’s skull!
“Time” starts off with a stunning reverb soaked guitar melody and soon breaks out into a triumphant tremolo guitar riff and drum beat. The song just makes you feel really upbeat and good inside. I can definitely imagine this becoming a crowd favourite and sing-a-long tune at their live performances. Paul Green puts in a stunning vocal performance on this track and really shows his range; definitely the best vocal performance on the album. The unfortunate thing though is that the production on “Time” does not do it any justice as I found the guitars to be too harsh sounding and I had to constantly dial down the treble on the track when listening to it.
“Unveiled” is a rocking track with a more traditional hardcore song structure, but I’ll be damned if this track doesn’t get people head banging. The riffing in the verses is heavy and dissonant and the choruses are damn catchy. The quiet interlude towards the end of the song is absolutely stunning, part haunting and part dreamy. Just to make sure the listener isn’t floating too far away during the interlude, all the dreaminess is abruptly interrupted with a powerful breakdown of sorts, like a boot to the face! “╪” is a beautiful instrumental track which breaks up the chaos of the previous songs nicely and doesn’t wear out its welcome. Continually evolving, the song loops the same guitar arpeggio throughout its entirety and slowly layers it with some stunning electronic samples.
“Alive”, the final and longest track on Belong ╪ Betray ends the EP off in spectacular fashion. The listener is greeted by a simple piano melody which is unexpected yet welcome. The thick guitars and powerful vocals burst through soon enough though, grabbing the listener by the scruff of the neck and forcing them to feel hopeful and optimistic about life. The song builds and builds with a powerful chorus driving it along (the drum work is stellar on this track, simple yet effective) and then plateaus for an instant with some more wonderful piano work. The track finally peaks with the crescendo bursting through like water breaking down the walls of a damn.
I am really happy with the direction that Devil Sold His Soul have taken on this EP. Compared to previous releases, the songs are shorter and more concise, and a wonderful energy oozes from every song. The songs are so optimistic and hope inducing that one can’t help but smile when listening to them. The production of the EP slightly lets it down (I couldn’t hear the bassist!) but that really isn’t an issue as EPs usually don’t sound as great as full length releases anyway. Things are looking up for Devil Sold His Soul, I think they have finally nailed their true sound after years of experimenting, and if they can carry this improved song writing and energy into their future releases then expect some big things from them; I know I won’t be overlooking them again.