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Run-of-the-mill can still sound good - 70%

Pratl1971, July 2nd, 2013

Devil’s Gather the Sinners is the latest album to attempt to grab on to the early 70’s progressive/doom metal that stamped its brand all over the rest of the heavy metal medium with a reckless fury.

After being less than bowled over by the demo CD from these Norwegian doomsters, I sit here and take in the early strains of ancient chords that are so thick the room seems to grow smaller. That familiar buzzing, fuzzy tone that seems to be curiously absent from many contemporary doom efforts is quite the ear-catcher here. There’s a common element when dealing with this doom genre, one that cannot and should not ever be omitted or thinned out, and that is the thick, muddy sensations that overtake the body and mind in one fell swoop of ugly, harassing subjugation. This album has it without bells and whistles ruining the antique vibe along the way.

I will admit the vocals are a bit out of my initial comfort zone, but as the album goes on I grow accustomed to them with relative ease. There’s nothing wrong there per se, it’s just a throaty effort as opposed to a perfectly clean delivery. As I said, they are an easier fit once you hear them for a while. The vital part of Gather the Sinners is that heavy-as-hell management of the songs as individual poetic pontifications and not as some harshly-assembled conglomerate of rehashed chords from any given Blue Cheer or Pentagram record. Even in the slower, acoustic untitled track there’s a solemnity that is both an accepted and well-timed addition to the flow. The other element of the record that is resonating is the simplistic, albeit familiar riffs that are pretty potent and unrelenting without total saturation of the point. There’s almost an L.A. punk feel to some of chords, particularly the rare slower Black Flag sound on later efforts, but by no means is that a complete musical comparison as much as a personal sound affiliation. Devil is doom through and through.

Now, as for the lyrical content…it’s just okay. There are a few clichéd ideas and tired trappings here and there, but there are certainly bands out there making Devil look like Whitman in terms of thoughtful, painted visages. As a fan of the lyrical prowess of any good band, of course I pay close attention to the words, but sometimes it can be an afterthought if the tones are enough to stimulate the mental palate. Sometimes, however, more can be said within the confines of a simpler sentiment than some long, drawn out diatribe, so it’s a matter of personal taste. It doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the record. The production is just modern enough to keep the audiophiles sedated and just thick enough to satiate the old men in corner bars all over the globe that still enjoy this sound filling the local watering hole.
There are many ingredients that mixed well to create this album, and for the most part they all work well. The fans of the secondary ‘waves’ of doom metal should get a kick out of this, as Devil takes a mandatory metal sound out of the dust balls of antiquity and polishes the surface for a new audience of willing and hungry historians. This is a memorable, albeit basic foray backwards that is worth a look-see.

(Originally written for

Devil - Gather the Sinners - 90%

ThrashManiacAYD, April 2nd, 2013

Sign me up and make a space on that bandwaggon for my skinny arse - I am selling myself to this heritage/doom/occult rock/metal (delete as appropriate) revival. What other 'scene' has produced so many albums of such variance, character and quality as this in recent times? In Devil's second LP "Gather the Sinners" we have another release that sees doomy and catchy songwriting collide head-on with an analogue and true production job to produce an album that is appealing from the very first listen and furthers the credence that right now, looking backwards is the new forwards.

While it is hard to argue against the sound propagated by Devil as being a firm approximation of where industry interest is at present it really shouldn't matter when songs like "Southern Sun", "Ladies of the Night" and "Mother Shipton pt. I" are the result. The under-produced organic feel of real drums, a distorted bass guitar, overlapping crusty guitars and the gnarled and nasal vocals of Joakim Trangsrud give it a distinct garage rock feel that permeates throughout and offer clues as to where Devil's appeal might lie: like The Devil's Blood before them, the occult-ish image and moniker should be no barrier for fans of acts ranging from The White Stripes and The Black Keys to the more predictable doom and heavy metal names of Sabbath, Pentagram, Vitus, Witchfinder General et al form enjoying what is on offer here. Unlike their peers however it is not just garage rock and doom feeding the beast: a punk spirit in the vein of the Ramones exists in the beat to "Darkest Day" and "They Pale", abetted by Trangsrud's snappy vocal lines and curt delivery that helps keep the album flowing superbly well during its 52 minutes.

Opener "Southern Sun" sets the template for an album stuffed full of simple yet highly effective groove as Ronny Østli's 4/4 patterns offer the backbeat for Thomas Ljosåk's Sabbath-ian bass lines to roll over the top, while even the solos which emerge later on shy away from being overtly flash, instead preferring to use the grainy bassy tone to further the great tempo which permeates throughout a song which I have personally loved since very first listen. Following on the album exists at a similar, Saint Vitus doomed tempo but not without each track having an identity of its own. "Beyond the Gate" is a more psychedelic affair with a notably prominent bass line; "Restless Wanderer" adds a chorus to hail in it's morbidly doomed tempo; "Lead Me Astray" is a pleasant acoustic interlude before "Ladies of the Night" is as relentlessly infectious to the soul as the song's subject matter. "Demons on Wheels" possesses the hallmarks of moderate mainstream success in a spacey trippy kinda way before "Coffin Regatta" brings down the curtain in the same pounding doom fashion it's precedents all did so well.

The production style may initially seem lacking for listeners of a more modern disposition but the quality of these 12 tracks should be confirmation enough to rock and metal fans across the spectrum that this is a revivalist genre with substance and in "Gather the Sinners", another record that has all the potential to be lauded high and wide for its simplistic, songwriting brilliance.

Originally written of