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Devil - Magister Mundi Xum - 65%

Jessie117, September 29th, 2012

Ghost and Electric Wizard have given birth to a bastard child, and its name is Devil. Doom metal with more than a hint of blues, the band’s cheerfully Satanic lyrics are capable of scaring your grandmother or a conservative church congregation – and not many others. But maybe that’s what they intended; they don’t seem to take themselves all that seriously, like many supposedly devil-worshipping bands. They seem to have fun just playing this music in the vein of Black Sabbath (as all doom metal bands do, in one way or another.) Driven by simple-yet-catchy guitar riffs and vocal melodies, their debut “Magister Mundi Xum” is just as any band’s first demo should be: raw, unpolished, and not of the best sound quality. (It seems to vary from track to track.)

The album begins with “The Arrival,” a two-minute intro consisting not of music, but sounds of a storm, a galloping horse, heartbeats, and other creepy noises before an ominous voice greets the traveler with “Good evening. I guess you’ve come to see the Devil?” Enter “At the Blacksmith’s,” a song whose blues-influenced riffs bring to mind Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy,” oddly enough, while telling the tale of riders of the apocalypse, forging weapons and killing traitors.The only song on the album to rival this one would be “The Noble Savage,” which combines doom, blues, and classic heavy metal in equal parts. Let’s not forget the bridge in “Time to Repent,” where cries of “witches of fire!” give way to a slow, doomy, effects-laden guitar solo.

However, these standout moments aren’t enough to make up for the album’s downfalls; singer Joakim Trangsrud fails to impress with his lackluster singing. Most of the tracks could certainly benefit from more energetic vocals, especially on “Spirit of the Cult,” and perhaps changing up the song structure once in a while. This album is no masterpiece, but given a bit of time, Devil may very well polish up their already-catchy sound and breathe some life into their songs.

(Originally published in Destructive Music Webzine:

Hit and miss - 59%

I_Shot_Olof_Palme, February 18th, 2011

Magister Mundi Xum is some of the first real material put out by the Norwegian doom/heavy metal band "Devil". The first thing that you might notice when listening to this is that it has a strong resemblance to the popular Swedish band "Ghost". Sure, the singer isn't as melodic and aims more for that classical gritty heavy metal sound than the ghoul in Ghost but you can clearly hear the influence. While not trying to be a straight up copycat, Devil still seems to aim for that defining sound of Ghost but doesn't quite reach up to the same level as the original band. Let's take a closer look at the songs on the demo though, shall we?

"The Arrival" is just an intro without any music and instead features a horseback ride through a rainy and stormy night (I'm just going to assume that it's night since I think it adds to the atmosphere). At the end of the intro our rider finally seems to arrive at his destination and gets greeted by an ominous voice saying "Good evening. I guess you've come to see the Devil?". It's a moody track for sure that builds up the right kind of atmosphere for the album. It's nothing special but it does what it's suppose to do, I guess. Then the real song starts playing which is "At the Blacksmith's" which is undoubtedly the demo's best track. It's got the right kind of power to it and at the same time staying melodic. The chorus is very catchy and everything about it reminds you about the good old days of listening to early Mercyful Fate record. Just without the falsetto vocals of the King.

"Spirit of the Cult" is next and to put it frankly it's kinda meh. The power from the last song is gone and instead the singer tries an even more melodic approach in his vocals. It feels tired, sloppy and uninteresting as if the singer himself is about to fall asleep. The music is acceptable although even the instruments seem slow and tired on this. Actually, what this demo really needs is some solid guitar work. Because so forth it's just been very unimpressive and weak. Even so, the chorus is still kinda catchy and enjoyable even though the singer insists on doing his Ooooooooo's as bland as possible.

"Time to Repent" is the fourth title on the album and this one's a good one. You can really feel the doom metal and even some early Electric Wizard stuff in the beginning of the track. At first the song is relatively slow (not necessarily in a bad way though) and as melodic as the last song but halfway through it goes through a heavier peak before slowing down again and the first that came to mind when the singer shouted "Witches on fire!!" was that of Venom oddly enough. It's a nice little doomy track and yes, the chorus is yet again very catchy. I just can't help myself!

Next up is "I Made a Pact..." and all I want to know is what the hell happened here? Everything sounds excruciatingly sloppy and badly produced. The quality of the sound suddenly got turned down several levels to the point that the vocals sound like painful shrieks in my ears. I actually wouldn't have minded the quality, seeing as it's a demo and all, but the song itself is just really bad too. The lyrics and the way the singer performs them are horrible and annoying as hell and the music just seem to go through the same unfitting, bland and boring pattern of sloppiness. I have no idea what this song is doing on the demo because it sounds like they through this together five minutes before entering recording.

Alright, we're at the last song of the demo and it's "Welcome the Devil". I'm just going to round up this review by saying that "it's okay", like a bored teenager commenting on his situation in life when asked by his parents. It's slow and doomy like "Time to Repent" and the chorus is sort of catchy like always. But damn it, the singer sounds so fucking bored again. Put some god damn emotion into your work, man! Other than that though it's really nothing special. It's not the best ending to the album, but it's an ending nonetheless.

So basically, what I'm saying says right in the title. It's a hit and miss all around. "At the Blacksmith" was just as big of a hit to me as "I Made a Pact..." was just as big of a miss for me. And that's pretty much how it goes through the entire demo. Some songs you'll like and some you won't. Even so I look forward to seeing more stuff from these guys. Magister Mundi Xum was a nice little experiment and some stuff worked while others didn't. Hopefully we'll see a full album from these guys soon and hopefully they would have improved their flaws till then.