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C-: “Needs improvement” - 70%

doomknocker, June 30th, 2010

Laddies and gentlewomen, behold…the first solo album from that dulcet ghostly songstress, Sarah Jezebel Deva. This is a name that even those of the non-blackened metal variety should at least be familiar with just out of guilt by association alone. Never mind her dalliances with MYSTIC CIRCLE, MORTIIS, and the somewhat failed experiment known as ANGTORIA…at the end of the day it all comes back to her tenure with CRADLE OF FILTH, and how such a tenure became less and less of itself as time and subsequent albums would progress. For me, it was a shame that she would end up dropping out of probably the biggest band she’ll ever perform with, but on that same token I totally understood; once the vocal parts meant for her ended up in the hands and throats of more well-known and virtually UN-known singers, the shit that was destined to hit the fan did so with the force of cannon fire, and it seemed high time for Lady Deva to turn high tail and depart without resorting to conjuring up her last namesake.

And now that she’s back to recording music (potentially HER way), will she be able to make it on her own? Let’s find out…

Despite the music containing that COF-ish gothicly dramatic touch, this here solo album seems like an entity all its own. The overall sound is metallic in a quite broad way, with Sarah’s vocals being the primary focus and the backing band taking the most extreme of back seats. The good thing in this regard is that Ms. Deva has a strong voice that doesn’t venture into bothersome theatrics; she neither overdoes pop star ambitions ala Annete Olzon nor scrapes that precious voice box raw in a defiant, irritating way like Angela Gossow, and instead brings to life an inky, black-clad curtain with a powerful, clean/operatic approach that fits the musical scheme of things rather well (despite those moments where she warbles off-key), and in some ways she’s better here than her one-time musical association, as she doesn’t have to fight a front man for face time. But unfortunately, there is a cross to bear with musical solo acts…when the main focus is the singer at hand, the backing band suffers from being more than simply ignored and their performance ends up being a background affair that could be seen as possibly unnecessary. Which is a bit of a shame, as the backing players’ symphonic gothic metal noodlings are well-focused and entertaining in their own right, where the orchestral keyboards, scratchy guitar/bass riffs, and power-metallic percussion come together in an above-average way, despite a lack of punch and staying power when attempting to poke through the main vocal approach. And when everyone is on, they’re truly on, as shown by the likes of “She Stands Like Stone” and “The Devil’s Opera”, sheltering the weaker filler tracks of “A Sign of Sublime” and “They Called Her Lady Tyranny”. Still…for a first entry, this could’ve ended up sounding far worse.

All in all Sarah’s latest musical entry since washing the filth away is pretty decent, albeit flawed and needing a few of the edges smoothed out. Maybe time will be friendly to her should she continue down this musical path and future works will knock us dead. In that case, I say keep it up, Lady.