Alrighty, another new band with very well known names in it. Basically when you have two former MARDUK members with Legion and Emil Dragutinovic in the line-up, you can be pretty darn sure that one label or the other will jump up and sign them. Happened with DEVIAN (formerly ELIZIUM, formerly called REBEL ANGELS) and Century Media, so now the big question is, can the quality of their debut “Ninewinged Serpent” live up to the hype already generated around them (even if it’s just due to the well-known names in the line-up)?
Let’s first look at the facts. Now everyone probably would expect Black Metal, but DEVIAN’s only real connection to that genre are Legion’s vocals, other than that we get a bastard of Death Metal and Thrash, with some occasional pinch of Black thrown in, garnished with some very nice melodies as well as aggressive outbursts, so just on paper not that bad of a mix. The info sheet, of course, raves about the band as being the best new thing since sliced bread and both fans and reviewers alike have grown wary of superlatives like that, approaching releases like this rather with reservation than exuberant enthusiasm, the truth, as so often, is somewhere in between.
After the slow-paced, heavy yet melodic intro instrumental “Serenade For The Fallen”, “Dressed In Blood” lives up to its name and goes right for the jugular, fast, aggressive and with Legion’s abrasive vocals, but also offers some short melodic consolation, a bit like a pitbull attack that is followed by the soft caress of a butterfly landing on your head... And once you have your head screwed on the right way again, DEVIAN prove that they know more than just one thing, as they do not only go straight forward, but also know how to take out tempo or intensity, like on “Scarred”, which mostly DOES forge straight ahead, but shows a strong Thrash influence, both in the thundering riffing at the beginning as well as the structure overall.
One thing, though, is missing and it is this intangible touch of “specialness”, that last spark to make a good album a great album. Sure, most of the ingredients are there and there is nothing that I could openly criticize, but while being good, not all tracks really manage to stand out. “Gemini Is The Snake”, though, is one of those stand-out tracks, having a more brooding, at times almost epic/anthemic touch to it, even though it, too, switches into speed mode again (like almost every single track on the album). Worth mentioning are the two bonus tracks, one of which ironically enough is one of the best of the album, this being “Burning Daylight”, where DEVIAN generate a lot more low-end power, which I have always preferred over blast beat frenzies and it works well here, too, even when they go faster, they do not just blindly thrash out, but use a more varied, double-bass-based approach, while “Jackal” shows a lot of Thrash Metal influence again, very old school.
So in the end we gave a good debut album, which has tons of power, good riffing and melodies, a clear and crisp production, a horribly clichéd cover (which reminds me of SIX FEET UNDER), some stand-out tracks, but also some material that just won’t ignite as much as it could and should, but still does not constitute pure filler material. Not a bad purchase by any means, but not the high flyer that many might have expected...
(Online June 13, 2008)