Devil Sold His Soul - 'Empire Of Light' (UK Release: 17 Sept '12) // Words: Simon Opie
Devil Sold His Soul finally do seem to be gaining recognition, I even heard them on Radio One the other night. It’s well deserved, but not necessarily to be expected given their style of music, as we pointed out back in 2010 when reviewing the excellent 'Blessed And Cursed'. That album, their second, was always going to be hard to follow as it delivered fierce songs with an intensity that seemed impossible to repeat. 'Empire of Light' has certainly risen to the challenge and is an amazing listen that should be a live treat too.
DSHS have developed their sound, perhaps taking a prompt from the mighty Opeth, by opening up to quieter, more lyrical passages in which Ed Gibbs sings more gently, but without sacrificing emotional intensity – best illustrated on 'It Rains Down' and the lengthier 'Crusader'. But the album opener, the at times crushingly heavy 'No Remorse No Regrets' shows they can still pile it on when the mood takes.
What I really like about DSHS is their ability to break up their songs and experiment with melody without losing the plot – there’s a great sense of direction on every song. There’s also some tremendous playing and a lot of well-directed use of layers of sound, that totally resist the usual clichés of the genre. (To illustrate the point just listen out for the slide that introduces the final climactic minute of the aforementioned opener).
The album's second track 'A New Legacy' makes an excellent single, without giving too much away, and the following 'VIII' also shows that the band can work well in a three minute song format – a development from 'Blessed And Cursed' that can probably open a few more doors.
DSHS really come into their own when the songs stretch to five minutes and beyond – 'Sorrow Plagues' even seems to finish before its time and 'Time & Pressure' rings some mighty changes yet remains totally gripping. They choose rhythms that are a bit more unusual than your average post-hardcore band and that gives the songs a quality both nimble and majestic. Speaking of which, 'End Of Days' makes a worthy closer to a terrific album by combining all of these elements into an extended nine minute plus workout.
Probably you’ll have gathered by now that I really do like this album and I sincerely hope that it will bring DSHS the success they deserve. They are a thoughtful, talented band with a sound they have worked hard to develop since their days in Mahumodo, and now on 'Empire Of Light', master. The combination of ideas and execution puts them right in the front rank of UK bands, in my opinion, and maybe in 2012 being British and successful won’t seem such an impossible combination.
Find more info at devilsoldhissoul.com. 'Empire Of Light' is available to purchase at amazon.co.uk.