DEVIL DOLL — The Sacrilege Of Fatal Arms (review)

DEVIL DOLL — The Sacrilege Of Fatal Arms album cover Album · 1993 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
A preliminary note. Devil Doll are most commonly associated with rock opera compositions with metal elements. The extent in which metal takes a part in their work is pretty debatable, but integral to the albums - despite being in the minority of their album content. Don't go into a Devil Doll album expecting hour long metal epics - but they are epics of a different nature.

Ah, The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms. I have, for a long time intended to revamp my review over at Progarchives, or at least, justify my perfect score for this album, but never got around to it. Now that I have some time, I will do just that. Devil Doll are a strange is almost not applicable here, because one man who goes by the pseudonym of "Mr. Doctor" designs every aspect of what is heard in the final releases, with the assistance of muliple musicians to give the effect that he desires. There hasn't been any real word from Mr. Doctor aside from a 2006 interview, 10 years after the last Devil Doll album was released. That album, Dies Irae, is considered by most Devil Doll fans to be his magnum opus, though I have always much preferred TSoFA. Let me explain why this album garners a perfect score. TSoFA is actually a remixed/revamped version of Devil Doll's previous album, Sacrilegium. This album was released in 1992, and runs about 48 minutes in length. It is probably my least favorite Devil Doll album, and you would think, given that TSoFA is so heavily based on Sacrilegium, that I would not be so much more affectionate towards its existence. But I am, because Sacrilegium suffers from the feeling of being a rushed and poorly composed effort. Conceptually, all the elements for a masterpiece were there, but they were not assembled into a truly realised work of art. We were pulled from one seemingly unrelated thread of lyrics and music to another, with no sense of meaning or reason. The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms however, is a complete revamp of the albums structure, and design. Lyrically, not a word has changed. The order of the verses have, the music has been remastered into reflecting a very different feeling. There are long instrumental periods throughout TSoFA, which contrasts with Sacrilegium's more sporadic and bombastic approach. There is a catharsis that runs through this album which is unlike any other I've heard. The dated quality of the recording shows in this album, being an independent artist, Devil Doll did not have the highest quality recording studio out there. But this adds to the effect of the album even more. When it wants to be, TSoFA is powerful and majestic in the same fashion as Sacrilegium, but it uses this power sparingly, and in the design of the album, strips back the emotion into the feeling of heartbroken catharsis. This feeling is very much in tune with the lyrics, which after many readings and thoughts, now make sense to me. I'll leave you as listeners to determine what they mean for yourself. In extending the album by almost half an hour, there are elements which reemerge in increasing power. While Sacrilegium tended to not reuse musical elements, a great deal of parts of that album are altered and placed two or three times within the albums daunting length. while in most cases, this would be considered a lazy and poor effort in design, here, the escalating power in these segments, gives the album more momentum and forward progression then Sacrilegium had in its poorly concentrated and undisciplined approach. Both albums are single track efforts - this being the massive length of 79 minutes. The album never really feels like it drags or grows old, except when that is exactly the kind of feeling it wants to reflect. I mentioned at the start of the review that the metal elements are very sparse in this recording, and they are. There are about 10 minutes which feel 'metal' in the progressive sense, the rest are far more subdued and minimalistic. Whenever a verse spoken by Mr. Doctor arrives, it is usually accompanied by a solo piano, strummed guitar, or a beautiful harp. Though it obviously takes patience and time to indulge in an album of this length and conceptual difficulty (I still struggle to understand some aspects), it works only when consumed as a whole. Finding the time to do that is up to you. If I had to pick apart my perfect score, I'd say that there are points where the album appears to take just a few moments too long in instrumental sections before resuming the narrative - however these niggles are really only applicable in the early stages of the album, as the lyrics pick up after the half hour mark. I really can't think of any way to slice or dice this album down from its massive length - and all in all I think this album deserves my wholehearted recommendation fully. For all fans of difficult, Gothic, conceptual and epic music, or music in general. It's really like nothing you've ever heard. (except maybe sacrilegium .)
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