|Mike McLatchey||25-March-2001||first four albums|
Slovenian's Devil Doll are the creators of a melodramatic prog-opera style of brash bombastic bravado. There are no limits to the heavily wrought tragic nature of the music, made all the more so by the distinctive vocals of leader Mr. Doctor whose voice bears the same in-your-face nature as Peter Hammill or Fish, the type of vocals that say "LISTEN TO ME NOW." Whatever effect the music might have is subsidiary to the story line of the each album, making one's opinion of the music rest entirely on whether or not you can handle the intrusive company of this bizarre artist.
The Girl Who Was...Death (Hurdy Gurdy HG-1,CD) is Devil Doll's debut album. Most of this is actually quite excellent, with some intense upbeat parts dynamically contrasted with softer and darker choir sections which make for quite riveting listening. As this was the last one I had heard by them, I was quite surprised, as I liked this one the best of the four. An interesting modern symphonic sound with a pervading air of menace brought to you by the ever-present grand homunculus.
Eliogabalus (Hurdy Gurdy HG-6,CD) is similar yet even more vocally saturated. Mr. Doctor's vocals are almost entirely omnipresent, and as I said earlier, if you can take his voice (and after a while I find it pretty irritating - Devil Doll is a pretty accurate description), one would likely enjoy the interesting arrangements of the composition. Musically, this is like a prog-metal symphony, a grandiose, overarching structure that works like a suite. Instrumentally, it seems like there is some interesting things happening, but all of this acts in the background and becomes difficult to listen to under the cathartic caterwauling.
Sacrilegium is another even more grandiose project featuring one long album-length suite. It seems to me that the same amount of ideas are here, yet they are stretched out to fill the time and the effect is less than spectacular. Not much has changed since Eliogabalus except for this heavy metal segment somewhere in the middle which reminds me of Accept. Overall it doesn't really seem to flow as a whole with some lags that at times make the album drag on. As a bonus you get a recording of a funeral (part of the overall concept) which you can barely hear!
The Sacrilege Of Fatal Arms (Hurdy Gurdy HG-8, CD) is a live, in-the-studio recording of an extended version (with the funeral again) of Sacrilegium. Why they would want to make that piece longer is beyond me, and while there is a lot of energy in the performance, it seems to me that more focused material would have helped portray the ideas better.
As a whole, Devil Doll are definitely interesting, and if vocals never detract from your listening pleasure than I'm sure you would find something you like in their music. The music is not for everybody, but recommended to those who like their singers dominant.
(originally reviewed as part of The New Italian Progressive Rock Scene
(part 1), Exposť #3, p. 7, Edited for Gnosis 3/25/01)
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