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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.