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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.