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The vision is divine. - 100%

DSOfan97, April 6th, 2017

Seriously, could I give this anything but a perfect score? This album is a flawless gem, a truly compelling work that cannot really fall under the shadow of any specific genre. In fact this is the definition of sui generis as every influence of Mr. Doctor is crushed and then put in the mold that Devil Doll's music is. To me, this album stands for artistic brilliance and innovation, uncompromising attitude and a little bit of insanity.

A man is the less likely to become great the more he is dominated by reason: few can achieve greatness - and none in art - if they are not dominated by illusion.

Thus spake Mario Panciera when Devil Doll was created and these words resonate in every single one of their works. Dies Irae is no exception. To be fair actually, Dies Irae is the pinnacle of that statement. But how exactly did this stance towards the creative process affect the final outcome? The answer is everywhere in this album. In the lyric sheet that (in the second part) is filled with "over 500 references" that are personal to Mr. Panciera and the paraphrasing of Edgar Allan Poe's The Conqueror Worm. In the music style that is always transforming and taking new shapes from the beginning to the very end, literally everywhere.

There's a strong cinematic feeling in the sound of Dies Irae. The narrative of the album only fortifies that feeling, but we shall get to the narrative later, let's take on the musical aspect first (even though that is somewhat unorthodox since both the musical and the lyrical aspect complement each other). The album begins with the descent of a shrill string ensemble, then a brief moment of silence and finally a melody performed on piano, stringed instruments as well as some brass properly sets the ground for the vocal performance. From that point on every possible genre is explored. Neoclassical bits are diffused here and there among rock and metal bits, Slavonic folk influences are bred with the lead guitar's soloing and all shorts of unlikely meetings between musical genres until the final rock-opera outburst that wraps the track in a breathtaking manner. Okay, that is a lie... sort of. The track closes with a cover of the main theme of the cult TV show The Prisoner, after 20 minutes of utter silence. But while that cover is a nice addition and works with the themes of the album pretty well, the meat of this record is stacked in the 45 minutes of original music.

The performance of the band is truly one of a kind. The instruments merge with each other so well that there's not one awkward moment amidst all this shifts and directions that the band is taking. Another fascinating thing is that there's no instrument that steals the show. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, the instrumental part is arranged in such a way that all the parts sound like one. And to conclude, what instrument could steal the show from Mr. Doctor's frenetic vocals? Think about it.

Before I get into the true highlight of every Devil Doll album ever, let me just bring a name on the album; Norina Radovan. She is the soprano that sung the first lines of the album, appearing every now and then to add her touch and ultimately make my jaw gape with the way she sung the final word of the album (as well as the final coronas); Earth.

And now... Mr. Doctor. Genius is not enough, incomparable is an understatement and visionary is merely the tip of the iceberg. This man cannot be described by words. He was beyond influential, as he was one of the first to truly keep his identity secret for long. He never truly performed black metal but he shaped it to a great extent. He made me look up the word sprechgesang (the singing/spoken word hybrid that he sports so gloriously). The lyrics he wrote are also amazing. Despite the fact that he uses entire passages from Poe's work, his work on the lyrics are very cohesive rather than a mere conjunction of words. That's the narrative I mentioned earlier, this cohesion of the images that are brought up with every word and syllable all the way to the cathartic end. As for the vocals themselves, every technique you can think of is used. Okay maybe not growls and such but some shrieks (if I may call them that) as well as falsettos are present. His vocal range, including the faux soprano and baritone vocals he conjures, is vast. And somewhere in there, in that diversity of all sorts (musical, lyrical and vocal), there lies the essence of this album (and Devil Doll in general).

Now, I know this is getting long but let me just expand on the album's finale a bit more. No other moment in Dies Irae can match this moment's unforced perfection for me. Around the 25th minute it comes close, it really does but not even that bit (with such lyrics as; I avoid the sharp splinters of her sweet shattered gaze) can live up to the fervent crescendo of those final seconds. That moment is built for at least three moment before it finally arrives, but when it does Mr.Doctor makes sure to go nuts and torture his vocal cords with unreal vibratos and rapid shifts in style before he shouts Smile. Or simply: Ivory in a rather melodic manner, then proceeding to pass the torch to Norina Radovan's heavenly voice to give this album a fitting end.

Conclusion; this album is the definition of masterpiece. Not just flawless but also a milestone. Yet, while most milestones are set to be reached by other artists who try to grasp a tiny bit of their greatness, this will never be neither reached nor surpassed. And I don't think so, I know so. This is the final testament of Mario Panciera as a part of Devil Doll and a recording artist in general to this day. He still composes and records, but he shows no interest in releasing this material. Other works were scheduled to be finally canceled before they saw the light of the day. And yet Dies Irae is a truly fitting epilogue to a truly legendary act. The entrancing final minutes have passed the test of time and it has been two decades already... You need this album in your life, trust me. I might be one of those people who give high scores easily and forgive an album's flaws even more easily, but what am I supposed to do when there's nothing to forgive? I'm stopping here, but you seriously don't want to miss out on this. It is a true eternal masterwork.

Favorite track(s): Every part, every minute, every second.

100/100.

Mr. Doctor, the mad genius - 93%

IcemanJ256, January 9th, 2012

It is my belief that one hasn't truly lived until they have heard Devil Doll. That's a shame because there are probably only a few thousand people who have heard it. It's probably the most outrageous thing in the music universe: the most whacked out, trippy, bizarre music that you never could imagine in a thousand years. But in fact, someone DID imagine it.

Enter the mind of Mr. Doctor, a world filled with horror, mystery, suspense, surprise, and without rules. The music can best be described as somewhat of a horror-rock-orchestra, if you will, containing prominent piano and violin, keyboards, organ, and heavier parts filled in with guitar, drums & bass. There is an obvious a silent-film-era to 1960's horror movie inspiration, and several samples from films are taken, I believe.

The most bizarre (and consequently the best) characteristic however, is Mr. Doctor's Sprechgesang, which is a sort of half-talk, half-singing technique. It is unlike else I have ever heard. His pitch, timbre, and mood changes so irregularly that it can be dizzying. His voice even changes so much that it may sound like different vocalists at times. He also almost sounds off-key and off-rhythm most of the time, but I'm sure it is intentional. If you're giving the album an honest chance and not just laughing at it, you can certainly get used to it.

I don't just like this album on bizarreness factor alone though. This stuff is actually good. And I mean like, mad genius good. The orchestrations and musical arrangements are absolutely gorgeous, or when they need to be - downright terrifying. He has the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra playing here adding some delicious layered richness to the sound. Different ideas are fired at you like an automatic pitching machine. The mood is changing constantly, from epic, to tranquil, to horrific, to urgent, while showcasing a broad spectrum of heaviness to softness. Somehow with all this chaos going on, each part of each song makes perfect coherent sense, as does the album as a whole. By the end, it feels like a complete film.

Despite being ridiculously obscure, Devil Doll has a very dedicated following, although I'm not sure what there is to follow anymore, since he has released nothing since 1996. I never pursued a Devil Doll collection beyond this and "Eliogabalus." It seems like those two are enough to satisfy my occasional Devil Doll cravings, but Dies Irae is by far my favorite between the two. I'm lucky I got my hands on them at all. While quite possibly being some of the most challenging and uncanny music ever made, giving it an honest chance will be extremely rewarding.

Where do I even begin? - 95%

NoSoup4you22, July 25th, 2008

At the risk of sounding pretentious, in music and all media really, there is a spectrum ranging from "entertainment" to "art". It's hard to say what makes a work one or the other, as entertainment is nonetheless a product of someone's artistic vision and art isn't necessarily devoid of entertainment value. Both can be rewarding in different ways, though art has more potential for long term emotional impact. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this isn't really an album you'd throw on at a party, you know? But it IS an extremely rewarding listen, it may change you, and hell, I guess it's kind of entertaining, too.

Of course, like most of the best art, Devil Doll is very obscure and what allows composer "Mr. Doctor" to reach these massive artistic heights is that he doesn't care. If the lore is to be believed, he has never accepted payment for any of his works. There is complete and total separation between the music and the business surrounding it, which is surely best for the material. Anyway, don't expect easy listening. This music takes effort. It's not made to be catchy, and it's pretty damn long. Make time and bear with it. The dedicated listener will be rewarded.

Musically, the predominant sound here is baroque or classical era with 1920s-40s horror movie influences, but also an epic soundtrack feel, and some metal. Somewhat unique and hard to explain, except that it is dark as hell. There's not a lot of metal instrumentation to be found, not really any "riffs" per se. The guitar solos are not technical at all, yet they're some of the most amazing and expressive ones I know. It's all about creating a huge atmosphere... At their best, Devil Doll are the most majestic and epic band around. In the end, you don't care about the sparseness of the metal parts, because the orchestra is just as well-done for once.

Even if you've gotten past the musical style of Devil Doll, Mr. Doctor's vocals can still be a stumbling block. They're more akin to acting than singing. The doctor slowly and purposefully makes his way through the lyrics with a dozen strange voices, sometimes melodic and sometimes harsh, though not in the style of conventional death or black metal vocals. It's a little hit-and-miss, but certain lines are REALLY well-done and will assure you that he does have technical skill. The lyrics themselves are amazing... abstract, but not just for their own sake, and touching as well. "Good night... Plug disconnected... Some flowers in the first month... Then just earth." Lots of imagery, and they stand well on their own. It should be noted that he quotes other poets' work often, though.

A special addition to this album is soprano singer Norina Radovan, who is clearly ridiculously talented. When she appears, she usually takes on a twisted tone to her voice, adding to the horror influence, but there's normal operatic lines too. She really lets loose on the end of the album - I'm convinced that the world is actually ending. I wish Nightwish and some other pseudo-operatic hack bands would have singers this good.

The only problem with Dies Irae, and Mr. Doctor's music in general, is that it's always so inaccessible. However, that problem is much less pronounced on this than the other albums. I had no trouble getting into it on the first listen - actually, this was the closest thing I probably had to a religious experience as a teenager. You just need to give yourself over to it and pay attention. It's miles beyond the others in terms of flow and cohesion, with more prominent key themes and repetition to tie the hour of music together. Dies Irae is definitely the best album to start with, and I'm pretty sure it's the best overall, somewhat ahead of "The Girl Who Was... Death." Maybe that's why Mr. Doctor hasn't released anything since then...although I'm not always in the mood for it, this is pretty damn hard to top and is a real achievement in art.

A Journey... - 96%

Necramentia, November 15th, 2004

Once again Mr Doctor has masterminded another great recording, one to be appreciated by all kinds of music lovers. Regardless of your taste, you can feel the emotion and vast imagery created by this work of, to say the least, art. With how rare art surfaces in the music world these days, Dies Irae is certainly a breath of fresh air.

From the first minutes of the album, you can feel the Day of Wrath coming on, with a foreboding instrumental intro leading into what seems to be the beginning of this dark day. As you listen you are dragged into a world of infinite imagination, an amazing soundscape to invoke the imagination. One factor that remains consant throughout the record is perfect use of dynamics, mixing different levels of intensity to capture a brilliant sound and feel. The whole record has palpable motion, and flows as would a perfectly writting story. Mr Doctor has seemed to have perfected is compositional ability with Dies Irae, as shown in this overall fluent motion. His voice, which can strike a memorable chord in anyone's mind, speaks in a unique musical language, just adding to the dramatic affect of the music with the most powerful instrument, human voice. Overall the record has an entropic feel, slowly sliding towards some chaotic delirium in the end. And to end it all, a powerful orchestrated end sequence where one can just see the consummate finale of something great and immense. And after a prolonged silence, one can feel as if the whole process has begun anew...

So if you seek an impactful listening experience, seek out Dies Irae, it will provide you with at the least a great listening experience, if not something bigger and more significant. All in all, at the end of this auditory masterpiece, you will feel a change, no matter how subtle, and will be a different person somehow. Art of the sublime quality is the most powerful element in life, and is a truly compelling experience.

16 tracks this time. - 93%

HealthySonicDiet, November 14th, 2003

From what I'd heard about Devil Doll and the vibe that I got from them, I expected something completely out of the ordinary and this is definitely it.
Like all of Devil Doll's releases, except for Eliogabalus, Dies Irae consists of one album- length song. However, this time it's divided into 16 parts, though it's still thought of as one musical composition. By subdividing the music so heavily, each of the different sections of the music has more of its own identity. In this way, I suppose it's easier to tell when the next part of the story concerning "The Day of Wrath" comes.

This effect of having multiple tracks on the album is comparable to Quentin Tarantino movies such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs because it's like there are several subplots going on that all intertwine at the end of the album. The rest of Devil Doll's single-song albums sound more like one singular plot.

Ok, I'm sure many of you have heard much about Mr. Doctor. Well, he has a voice that can be horrifying and comical, often at the same time, and I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say that NO vocalist in metal sounds like this guy. That's how unique his voice is. Dies Irae doesn't showcase his best vocal performance, IMO, however. That honor goes to SoFA.

The album begins with a decrescendo of strings that sounds like a submarine and quickly introduces operatic vocals that give way to an evil choir and Mr. Doctor's eerie vocals. This part of the song sounds truly terrifying. After that, it's just a series of vocal theatrics that last about one to two minutes with majestic violins and strings and the occasional guitar solos. Nothing really special about the guitar solos, but Devil Doll isn't about technical wizardry. The lack of technicality in the guitar-playing is surely made up for in the tone. This band has one of the greatest guitar tones I've ever heard. If you wet your pants over epic music, this will do it to you.

The only problem I have with this CD is the brevity of the different sections. It's a little disquieting to hear such abrupt changes in the music and I would prefer for them to last on average three minutes each. Eh, to each his own though. This is some of the most unique music I've ever heard and I'd be hard-pressed to find a band that could adequately compare to Devil Doll. Highly recommended.