DevilishThis EP from Devilish Impressions is special. Following their third album “Simulacra” (2012), they have released this 62 minute epic comprising two new tracks and their 2002 demo “Eritis Sicut Deus”. The re-release of ‘Eritis Sicut Deus” is not before time. Flamboyant symphonic black metal was in vogue. I especially liked Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse”. Limbionic Art, Arcturus and Dimmu Borgir were releasing interesting works, but I had not heard anything like the exhilarating atmosphere of “Eritis Sicut Deus; Verbum Diaboli Manet in Aeternum (Vox Verspetilio Act I – Moon Var Dies Irae)”, to give its full title. At the time I likened its movement to standing in a graveyard at night with the cold wind blasting past me and bats flying around. It is indeed like a cold blast but listening to it again in its entirety, I’d say it’s more like a 45 minute journey to an alien mystical land.

“Eritis Sicut Deus” starts with shimmering bells and symphonic sadness. It’s magical but I sense ice-blue cold and isolation. This isn’t a world for humans. There are sounds of dripping water. A robust guitar line takes charge and shatters the calm, matched by Quazarre’s inexorable screams. Chaos has taken over from order. Frenzied and frightened voices cry out against the background of progressing majesty. Quazarre specialises in shadowy and sinister vocals. At the time I remember accusations of the vocals being indistinct but surely that’s the point – we’re battling against a monstrous and mighty metal underworld maelstrom which cannot be overcome. There will be no clarity, just struggle.  We enter a swamp. Quazarre seems to be coming from underneath. Musically it’s dark and anarchic, heavy and extreme, yet classical in its flowing movement and progression. Those indistinct sounds have threat. The sound effects are superb. Chaos has a woozy air. The orchestra has a mechanical quality, while the razoring lead guitar howls and enhances the fearsome atmosphere like a nightmare. The guitar dominates and stands at the forefront of the disorder. “Moon” is a pulsating musical representation. Watery sounds interrupt the turbulence momentarily but it’s only brief respite. It’s as if a harsh Eastern European blizzard has hit us. Quazarre’s words are despairing. The deafening guitar line starts up again. There is musical balance in spite of the perennial transformation of scene. This is avant-garde black metal. An eerie melancholic air revises the mood again, as “Var” begins. The atmosphere is majestic and uplifting, then black clouds gather and the guitars take over. Amid twirling guitars, the air thickens and the atmosphere turns nasty and malevolent. Quazarre leads the extraordinary attack. Deathly screams precede triggering drums and ominous-sounding guitars. Gnashing of teeth, ferocious cries and pungent instrumentals stomp their way through the deadly scene. But like Quazarre’s other band, the cerebral Asgaard, we remain in the stratosphere for this transcendental experience. “Eritis Sicut Deus” is not directly like its successors which lack its experientalism but many of its atmospheres are carried forward. The mechanical progress and crusty vocals are recognisably those of “Dracula Mechanized Universe” (Plurima Mortis Imago, 2005). The scene is harsh and imposing, yet transforming and subtle. From those subtle moments arise ferocious horror and ghastly suffering. The kaleidoscopic “Var” steps up in pace, gains intensity and ends chaotically.

A pompous symphonic beginning features keyboard playfulness. “Dies Irae” even features a piece of cascading jazz guitar. The drums, guitar and whistling keyboard raise the tempo and black metal turbulence is around us again. Quazarre screams, and under the radar in trademark fashion utters nastiness. An exciting guitar passage follows before solemn depths are plumbed. There’s always a majestic and outer-worldly air. Harshness meets beauty. The keyboard plays its part but the guitar patterns remain supreme in this symphonic framework. Cascading guitar lines take us into the depths of despair and darkness. There are angry cries. The excitement is breathtaking and then, as if we’ve slipped over the edge of an abyss in this vivid world, we are subject to an uncontrollable fall. As if the bottom is reached, the music becomes darker and the screams become more painful. It stops. The magical aura returns. We can hear the sound of the swamp. Symphonic majesty rings out. The shimmering bells take us out. We have reached the end of this breathtaking avant-garde black metal journey.

So moving on to “Adventvs Regis” and “Meteoron”, Devilish Impressions’s 2014 creations, what has changed? After the heightened bombast of “Simulacra”, distinct comparisons can now be made between “Adventvs” and “Eritis Sicut Deus”. We re-enter the same gloomy underworld. Echoes resound. The clashing drum sends out a wave. Like a serpent coming out a mouth, there is an explosive and ghastly burst. Blackened death fury rages. Icanraz’s drum tone is deep. The guitar fires off like a machine-gun. The echoes are haunting but instead of deep atmospheres, this is more rebellious and confrontational. The turbulence merges into majestic melancholy. The echoing chorus brings back memories of “Crowned to be Crucified” from “Plurima Mortis Imago”. Where “Eritis Sicut Deus” goes where it wants to, the malevolence of “Adventvs” is controlled. The bass is dominant. Swirling shards of metal are superimposed on top of the pungent beat driven out by the mighty Icanraz and Quazarre’s harsh and shadowy vocals. Horrible, uplifting, inspiring, “Adventvs Regis” ends ominously and descends into a squealing island of rats and inescapable torture. The guitar ring sounds as if it’s designed to send us mad. So “Meteoron” begins and mechanical violence erupts.  Icanraz leads the thunderous charge. In a measured way, an echoing, death-like atmosphere penetrates the depths of our minds. It’s deep and powerful. Quazarre’s vocals add more pain and impact to this terminally desperate scene. There’s a cry for help in the chorus line but the deathliness is spread too thickly, like a malevolent honey, for us to be able to drag ourselves away and escape. That of course is the plan.

Devilish Impressions once again take us from the comfort of our home on a tour of their underworld. In spite of all the horror, both “Adventvs” and its magical predecessor “Eritis Sicut Deus” are uplifting, inspiring even, thanks to creative ideas, great production and sublime musicianship. It’s a total experience. Forget that nice holiday destination – just let Quazarre and his mates take you to the creepy depths of their turbulent and chaotic world. The problem is that you will stay inside it.

As it was Quazarre who opened up my horizons by slipping me a copy of “Eritis Sicut Deus” ten or so years ago, and started a great friendship, I’m not going to give this EP a mark out of ten. For me, this music transcends all that. I can only invite you to share the Chaos and Rebellion which this timeless five-track avant-garde blackened masterpiece from now and then brings.

(Andrew Doherty)