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Legend of the Devil Master - 85%

Neheroth, March 14th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Relapse Records

Devil Master is a fascinating act that has exploded onto the scene in the past couple of years, landing a deal with Relapse Records for their first full-length. The band draw from a whole host of strange influences, blending a macabre mix of Japanese D-Beat bands such as G.I.S.M, Zouo and Deathside with the atmosphere of black and death metal acts such as Vlad Tepes, Mortuary Drape and Deathcrush era Mayhem, as well as further influences from post-punk, deathrock bands like T.S.O.L, 45 Grave and first-era Christian Death. An eclectic mix but the band's driving force is definitely the sounds of Japanese D-Beat, with even their name sounding like a late 80's Japanese demonic exploitation anime, tentacles and genitalia proudly on display in a tumult of cheap filth and rancid degradation.

Satan Spits on Children of Light opens with a gothic piano intro, which would make one think of the more esoteric, folkish black metal bands with only the campy synth revealing otherwise, but the track after, "Nightmares in the Human Collapse", eliminates all notion of this possibility with it's driving d-beat rhythms, nasty speed punk riffs and scorching black barks. The haunting tremolo guitar melody that lilts just over the main mix lends to that atmosphere that would be expected of early Sargeist or Mutiilation, but in a more punky inflection that reminds one more of goth rock or post-punk sounds of the early 80's. It is this guitar tone that sets Devil Master apart from their contemporaries the most.

Highlights include "Skeleton's Hand", a slow drone of a song that builds and builds into a snarling mess of black punk riffs, ending with a furious blast beat drum section that signals the last death cry before the song utters its last fatal breath. The drums are showcased best on this track, with the slow funerary march drum rolls breaking into the classic d-beat crash, kick, snare combo and peaking with death/black blast beat section. "Desperate Shadow" has a central riff that sums up Devil Master's sound perfectly, a slower more drawn out tremolo riff that cascades over the punky rhythms beneath it, creating a melancholy air with a visceral punch behind its grim shroud. "Webs of Sorrow" is doomy number to begin with before the savage drum rolls beckon forth a dirty combo of d-beat and DSBM, almost blackgaze vibes, and interesting piece indeed.

The aesthetics are spot on for what Devil Master are aiming to achieve. The colorful, Hindu influenced demonic orgy emblazoned proudly upon the cover fits their sound perfectly and further enforce the campiness that bands like Misfits or Shitfucker also wallow happily in. All in all Devil Master strike me as hedonistic Satanists, not wishing to get bogged down in depressing or elitist theological practices found within the majority of modern black metal acts, which translates in their sound and thematics almost effortlessly.

Devil Master is a band that isn't happy with simply rehashing the sounds of old in the same way you see bands do time and time again. They have truly set out to create a unique take on so many formulas from 80's underground genres and in many ways have achieved this. Black/speed thrashers will enjoy the occult-tinged barbarity, modern black metallers can get behind the atmospherics and hardcore punks will appreciate the fresh take on the d-beat formula. An open mind from all tribes will certainly be required and if you allow Satan Spits on Children of Light to serenade you with its campy aesthetics, synthy atmospheres and hammering rhythms, you will not be disappointed. The eclectic offerings of moldy cobwebs littering the neon ruins of a satanic cathedral are open to all, should you dare to enter to within.