If you saw a band with the name Devil Worshipper what kind of music would you expect them to play? I had my own preconceived notions of that before playing this debut album which is an international collaboration between Matron Thorn (all instruments), Fr. A. A (vocals and lyrics) and Erethe Arashiel (additional vocals). US musician Matron Thorn is prolific and involved in numerous other projects which you can check out elsewhere, the other two artists are from Portugal.

My preconceived notions expected black metal and that is what I got, sort of, as this album offers a lot more besides, to describe this release based on any individual song titles alone is insufficient, it needs to be taken as a whole singular opus, a sonic blasphemous construction that encapsulates everything the black metal art form holds within its embittered corrupted glacial heart, but feeding that heart through its veins are tenets of other influences.

This album cannot be listened to in snippets or morsels, it has to be digested as one, a virtual black opera of sorts where the various vocal characterisations are twisted around the poetic lyrics that imbue a sense of drama as the album introduces itself via an eerie intro segment that leads into the album properly. The myriad of vocal styles brings about similarities to Big Boss of Czech band Root, an eloquent and sagacious delivery that sends shivers down your spine as every lyric is delivered with conviction, each syllable and inflection possesses passion conjuring up demonised images within sordid landscapes. Balancing all this profanity is the torturous music which in some ways is a complete antithesis to the norm of the usual black metal ferocity, the band’s use of industrialised rhythms is counterpointed with metronomic repetition, in a good way, the mechanised guitar work worms its way under your skin via frequent chaotic and schizoid domination, and you have to remember that whilst all this is going on, the vocals are literally tearing your soul to shreds.

As the album progresses and you are drawn further and deeper into despairing terror as you get traits of horror movie touches, without any signs of tackiness I might add, as the distressing and disconcerting music produces ritualistic fragments that delve into funereal moods where the pace is ultra-slow. There are occasions of outright beauty where female clean vocals add an aura of purity within semi acoustic passages, but lingering in the background is that inevitable tangible ethos of poison, as the hypnotic industrial toxicity infects at every opportunity. Towards the end of the album, the whole release becomes ever more austere, a cloying malignancy plagues the elongated tracks as the songs see an increase in intensity and tempo in places, with the vocals becoming increasingly frenzied and hysterical, with them mingling together and the music seemingly randomising to the point of controlled pandemonium.

This is not an easy album to listen to or enjoy, it is an experience, one to isolate yourself from outside disturbances; resolve yourself to absorb what Devil Worshipper have written and recorded. Each time you listen to it you will hear something different, each time you experience it you will interpret it in a different way, you might love it the first time then loathe it the next, it is that kind of album, it is challenging on a multiple levels but equally rewarding.

(8.5/10 Martin Harris)