Right. I speak not a word of Italian. Or German. I know literally a handful of individual words of Latin. So of course I’m reviewing this. Despite that I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the opening nine minutes of this album might not be something for Catholics. What we get you see is a mixture of choral sounds, echoing around some Catholic cathedral with layered vocal muttering of various levels of distortion woven with some disturbing snarls and growls and the odd flutter of noise. It’s certainly curious, intriguing even.
Hello Deviate Damaen. Nice to meet you.
These Rome based er…deviants…clearly want to…keep you off balance. The second song (seriously I am not typing out all these long titles. Sue me) begins with a laugh before we hit instrumentation. Imagine a riff from The Nefilim album Zoon, that goth meets semi-industrial sound allied to strident almost Rammstein-esque vocals with outbursts of spittle flinging ranting. It’s certainly odd, dramatic even and something hints at a Laibach feel deep inside it with its overly dramatic, deeply serious intonation. It drifts into spoken word again with the kind of background music that recalls the first Blood Axis album.
Yes I’m flinging around comparisons hoping one will stick. It’s not just that this entire album is more than a little barking, and that I have not one clue what they might be driving at, but that the intrigue by half an hour in is all around ‘what the fuck do they want?’. I mean the third track lurches between twee operatic singalongs and driving metal punk riffs and snarls. Think Mongo Ninja invading a beer hall while the clientele are doing opera karaoke. Then it goes all smooth and we approach something like the second Monumentum album, all wavering vocals and the odd melodic influences from The Cure and Marillion.
So what do we know forty odd minutes in other than Deviate Damaen are weird? Well actually that’s kind of the problem – that’s all I know. Folk singing over bleating sheep and bubbling industrial process noises? Endless samples in a variety of languages I don’t speak? Well I got those, but, and this is the big thing, it actually genuinely doesn’t intrigue me enough to want to search out a translation or two. Even more obviously straightforward passages like ‘The Font Near The Ossuary’ with its black-metal-and-classical-singing which reminds me of some of the weirdshit which lurched out of the early 90s don’t help. This is clearly meticulously put together music and I have no problem with the weird but this sadly does little to do the essential of intriguing me I’m afraid. Some parts seem weird for the sheer sake of it whilst others clearly simply ended up that way naturally. There is a difference.
I think what I’m saying is that I didn’t find the album particularly difficult musically – I have all sorts of weirdshit in my archives from C.C.C.C and Merzbow through various David Tibet works and ‘Urfe’ to number stations set to music – but I did find it difficult to find much to enthral, intrigue, disturb or simply pull me in with questions here. But I also think that may be the nature of this odd little beast. It is genuinely a work that is not for everyone. Some will find it too weird, some too difficult, or some like me may find it simply not something that engages.
In some respects though that is what this music is all about; the random workings of the musician’s mind put out there regardless. Some will connect with it, others will not. It’s neither a criticism of the music nor the listener, just how weirdness like this works.
Worth trying, well constructed but, personally, it was not an affecting experience sadly.