Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

Two years ago, during one of my numerous pilgrimages to beautiful Germany whilst visiting a very dear friend of mine, I was introduced to the sounds of an album entitled “The Time Of No Time Evermore” – the debut heavy and pretty dark musical offering of the Dutch cult Rock outfit The Devil’s Blood. Though quite intrigued, I somehow forgot all about the band upon my return to the UK, however something must have been in the works on a subconscious level as the moment the possibility of reviewing the band’s second studio effort entitled “The Thousandfold Epicentre” appeared, I undertook the task quite willingly and with a great sense of anticipation. The result?...could not have been any more rewarding as I find myself promoting this eleven track offering to one of the best damn releases of 2011!

There are many great things about The Devil’s Blood, but I will start with the most obvious thing and that is Farida “The Mouth of Satan” Lemouchi’s personal contribution to the album. This woman definitely gives full credit to her very colourful stage name as it is her very commanding and full ranged vocal performances that create the occult-feeling and unnervingly haunting atmosphere of the shows. Of similar importance, however, is her brother’s Selim Lemouchi’s tremendous ability of coming up with an array of simply crafted but unbelievably catchy 70s sounding guitars riffs and melodies, both of which are further enhanced by 60s-influenced psychedelic keyboard themes. The end result is an unbelievably colourful musical puzzle whose musical influences are numerous but terribly difficult to pin down – clear evidence of the band’s sheer talent and musical ingenuity.

The somewhat discordant piano theme of “Unending Singularity” provides a beautiful atmospheric intro to this release, one that is quickly followed by the Hammond-driven tunes of “On The Wings Of Gloria” – a song whose catchy guitar riff works miracles when operating in parallel with layers of Hawkwind-influenced psychedelic keyboard tunes. No song can better describe the band’s appreciation for the late 60s than “Die The Death” – an approach that is also followed in the equally melodic “Within The Charnel House Of Love”. Even though all compositions of the album are brilliant, my favourite part of the album consists of the trilogy “Cruel Lover”, “She” and the same titled “The Thousandfold Epicentre”. “Cruel Lover” is based on a simple repetitive riff that is cleverly adorned by some truly magnificent lead guitar harmonies and, combined with Farida’s powerful vocals, is a strong contender for the title of ‘best head banging track’ of the album. “She”, on the other hand, finds the band indulging in early-day Scorpions themes (Uli Jon Roth era) while “The Thousandfold Epicentre” with its equally prolific head banging riff, sensational lead guitar melodies and terrifyingly epic lyrics is by far the best song of the album. The last part of the album includes some equally impressive compositions like the 60s groovy opus “Fire Burning”, the highly emotional and atmospheric opus “Everlasting Saturnalia” and the atmospheric duet “The Madness Of Serpents” / “Feverdance”, the latter of which is a fifteen minute exercise on spacey keyboard themes and dark orchestral arrangements.

As far as I can remember, this is the first time I find myself having to listen to an album for more than a month prior to writing a review and that is not because I was trying to convince myself of the album’s quality – on the contrary! I wanted to make sure that my initial treatment of this album as a masterpiece was justified (an opinion I can now confirm) and that I had right words to describe such a varied and cleverly-crafted collection of songs. I am not sure how truthful Selim Lemouchi is when claiming to draw his inspiration from the Devil, but if the end result is as unique and impressive as “The Thousandfold Epicentre”, then so be it – it’s fine by me!

John Stefanis