Waiting for the release of Deviloof’s Devil’s Proof has been one of the hardest things in my life. That’s really an overstatement, but, you get the point. Not just myself, but some of the other members of the JROCK NEWS staff have been fans of Deviloof practically since conception. They have easily risen to be one of my favorite bands. Not that that’s really something hard to do. The music just has to be moving, in some way or another. Deviloof was interesting from the start with songs like Ishtar and Ruin. They took it to the next level when they released Purge. It really was a new standard for violence and brutality in the visual kei world. Needless to say, I was both hopeful and very doubtful of Deviloof’s next move. Could they possibly top the monstrously amazing sound that was Purge?
For this album, Deviloof started to reinvent themselves. Followers of their twitter accounts and of JROCK NEWS may have seen the many different changes they had. From a new look, a new styling of their name, and even a new member. Ray, their new guitarist, definitely filled in the void left by the departure of Ryuya. What’s more, they even made a friend of ex-Girugamesh’s Ryo. Ryo has been gaining popularity on his own for his stunning cover work on youtube. However, with all these changes I was left unsure as a Deviloof fan. Moreover, despite Ryo’s immense talents, the works of Girugamesh are not akin to that of Deviloof.
However, I must say, Ryo has done an excellent job with the mixing for this album. Every single sound is unique and all of it’s own. However, at the same time, it all blends in a perfect fusion. It’s like eating cheese popcorn with caramel corn. They are distinct flavors on their own, but together–together they are like a bukkake of flavor in your mouth. Ryo’s mixing is like that, but for your ears! Enough about the path to creation, though, let’s get down to the guts of this baby. What a beautiful baby it is.
Right off the bat, Deviloof hit the ground running. As any album should, the album as a whole conveys a sense of feeling. Devil’s Proof, the title track, has an awesome way of doing this. Ominous distorted guitar work, a bit of synth pounding away. A healthy mix of drum and bass and some seductive sounding vocals go a long way in setting the tone for this masterpiece. I was immediately shivering and ready to go. Maybe the shivering was the 50-degree temperature in this room. What the hell, they were excitement chills!
Devil’s Proof leads right to ESCAPE. I have to admit that, initially, I was taken aback by the new vocal style introduced in this track. What’s more, I had felt it was a bit lengthy. It’s placement on this album has definitely changed my mind. It’s a shock, it’s not the Deviloof you heard on Purge; get ready for more. The heavy parts of the song mingle with the clean vocals and create an intense and engaging back and forth. This leads right to Natural Born Killer.
Natural Born Killer is one of those “in your face” kind of tracks. Loud, angry and turned up to 11. It has some thrash vibes in it and I can easily envision fans forming circle pits. It’s a violent swirl of guitars and drums. It makes me want to punch things. There’s even a tasteful breakdown in there that doesn’t feel like generic metalcore.
The intro for the next track, Return of the Curse, is a bit of a step away from all the non-stop massacre that Devil’s Proof has been so far. It even has a bit of a gothic rock feel to it. This is definitely a track for those craving those clean vocals. Transitions from harsh to clean are melodious and the song is masterfully put together. There are some wonderful transitions and the guitar work really starts to shine. This is less of a curse and more of a blessing.
Back to that chest-pounding head-banging sound you crave, DESTINATION. This track probably has the most variation in vocals. In the past, Deviloof was something that I associated with getting hyped up, jumping in the pit and coming out barely alive. Exhilarating! The vocal work in DESTINATION is really something else. It’s beautiful. It still has that energy behind it but it’s really warm in an odd “internal-organs-all-over-you” kind of way. It’s like home, soothing, like a blade through thick flesh.
LOVER is just a groovy track. It has a way of making you want to move. Not in that violent way, but in a way where you can’t control your body and just need to show it. It goes from some steady pounding to bouts of acceleration with vocals to compliment. Keisuke hits his classic guttural tones in this one with some interesting highs in the form of intermittent squeals. It may not sound like it, but this one is a recipe for pleasure. Listening pleasure.
Let me preface this by saying, I would never consider myself a lover of instrumental music. For me, a band is really complete when vocals are present. Now that we have that out, InCipit is really a great showcase of the talents of the musicians that make Deviloof. Keisuke can take center stage all day and is a fantastic vocalist. He continued to show this throughout the album. However, the real magic comes from the virtuosity of the dual 7-string guitars, focused bass lines, and precise drum work. It’s a break away from the rest of the feeling of the album, but, it is something enjoyable nonetheless.
Some of us may know the name EGOIST for other reasons. This isn’t that EGOIST. InCipit flows almost perfectly into EGOIST, which creates a bit of a shock when the vocals finally come in. They are warmly welcomed and we get some interesting and furious instrumentation. If you can consider the lack of vocals earlier as a loss of time, this song definitely makes up for it. Not as standout as some of the other tracks on the album, but also not boring in the least. This is Deviloof we are talking about.
M.F.JAP gave me mixed feelings before. Just like with ESCAPE. I was still unsure of the direction that Deviloof was taking themselves in. The vocal style is unlike anything else on this album. I don’t like to compare artists too often. I feel that everyone really has their own sound and comparisons aren’t fair. However, there are bits of this song that remind me of a very prominent group of Japanese rockers.
The kanji for the next track can most easily be translated as the deadly sin, Sloth. Taida no Tsumi (怠惰の罪), as intriguing as it may seem, does not convey that idea at all. Instead, we get taken back to those great grindcore-esque vocals that make Deviloof so… Deviloof. Highlighted with chant-like vocals, this track goes straight into your soul. It leads to the finale you knew was coming but never really wanted. This ride shouldn’t have to end.
An abrupt stop and an immediate pickup. Deviloof pulled no punches and exerts some amazing skill in HERO=MURDERER. Despite being the final track, there is still some innovation in the band’s sound here. This one got me back into the motions more than previous tracks. Unfortunately, this is an ending, not a beginning.
Just like that, the album comes to an end. An ending that almost perfectly loops into another pass through. Despite some of the doubts I held, Devil’s Proof has proved to be one solid album. It’s in your face, it’s new, it’s heavy, it’s Deviloof. That’s what makes many Japanese artists what they are.
So, did Deviloof top the monstrously amazing sound that was Purge? Why, yes, yes they did indeed. Not just as a band, but as individuals, Deviloof has collaborated with Ryo to put out another amazing album. I look forward to hearing more and you should definitely be picking this album up. Sooner rather than later. In fact, do it now. Click that dirty little link and satisfy your thirst for great music. Feed a starving artist and fill that hole in your heart. Deviloof is right at home here.
Buy at CDJapan