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Devil Doll

Heavy Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars As mentioned in my previous two reviews, Devil Doll's third (full) album is more of the same, and I will not spend a great deal of time describing the music: just read the other reviews I wrote for them. One of the rfrustrating thing with DD is the lack of progression of the music from one album to the other. Still impressive and sometimes grandiose, but at times also, almost ridiculous because of the macabre and laughable vocals. As I said previously, you got one album, you got them all. >> this 50 words, yet? ;-)
Report this review (#1729)
Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the highly crafted release "Eliogabalus" I felt all later albums were basically a re-hash of this album, but with "Dies Irae" I have been once again blown away... This album definitely has caught my ear kids! As you would expect this album continues to follow that patented DEVIL DOLL formula with rich orchestral and gothic influences contrasted sharply with piano-led passages that feature the sinister, bizarrely twisted voice and antics of "Mr. Doctor" (the band's mastermind). The sound on this album is quite enormous with the addition of full orchestration combined with a wide range of instrumentation highlighted by stunning violin work. Best way to describe the music of DEVIL DOLL is to imagine a dark foreboding horror music soundtrack combined with classical and progressive leanings and you may not be far off this music. DEVIL DOLL contrast heavy searing orchestral strings with grand synth and organ work with the occasional brilliant progressive rock breakout. The musicianship is extremely high with some simply captivating instrumentation. In many ways this album actually runs like a movie soundtrack with full theatrics and animation of imagery. The vocals are as you would expect are quite contorted featuring once again "Mr. Doctor" who sounds more like a specter of macabre than a lead singer. For those unfamiliar with his singing style may find it a bit out of the norm as he tends to talk his way thru the songs instead of singing. The end result is something that only personal taste can really judge... some will love this and find it highly inventive while others will likely not get it. Without a question the music is heavily avante garge and should only be listened to by a mature audience. Overall "Dies Irae" is an excellent album full of innovation and that heavy classical, soundtrack'ish macabre that this music lover loves!
Report this review (#1730)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent mix between the style of Peter HAMMILL within "The Fall of the House of Usher" and such a dark heavy metal, but with a touch of classical music, by using an expressive violin, and an incredible vocalist as well, whose pyrotechnical vocal range, under a lyric "opera-style", covering also the contralto and tenor range excursion in the same time, makes this album well worth checking out!!

The guitar riffs sometimes are a little banal, nevertheless the support of the piano is interesting, sometimes giving a dark epic imprinting, in other circumstances according to this strange "Balcanic" mood created by the violin. Well a theatrics' work, suitable for an "Horror- Movie Soundtrack"!!

As for a certain discontinuity you could erase one star, but for me it's a minor question and of course you have to be in the habit with such an horror soundtrack in order to appreciate them!!

Report this review (#1731)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars I've read so much times reviews saying that this is a fantastic album, Devil Doll being such a fantastic band. I'm still waiting for someone who will be able to tell me why so many people find it fantastic ? I really don't get it. It's extremely boring stuff. Not dark. Not gothic in any way. Just grotesque.
Report this review (#1733)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having recently finished reviewing an album whose music I described as weird, strange, peculiar even deviant, I couldn't help but think that I would describe the music of Devil Doll in much the same way with perhaps a couple more suitable adjectives like perverse and satirical.

Yes, I'm afraid semismart is about to force feed another one of those really weird bands on you. True you don't have to read anymore but Devil Doll is truly an interesting phenomenon, a confluence great and wonderful musical competence with perverse theatrics and macabre absurdity. If you are familiar with either Lacrimosa or Therion, imagine their marvelous music combined with something as over the top as Weird Al Yankovic, Victor Borge or even Dr. Demento. Sound interesting? I invite you to read on. You can stop whenever you want, I promise.


I'm sure your all familiar with the terms eccentric and hermit. Devil Doll and especially their leader Mr. Doctor seems to be the musical equivalent of an eccentric hermit. One could be forgiven if they never heard of Devil Doll, being one of the most obscure underground bands this side of Jupiter. The inscrutable Mr. Doctor, originally from Slovenia, as in former Yugoslavia, and now based across the Adriatic in Italy, has, until recently, stingily released copies of his five albums on his Hurdy Gurdy label as if a famous artist releasing numbered paintings. This has made the original releases collectors items and I have observed bids on Ebay of upwards of one hundred dollars.

If this is not proof enough of Mr. Doctor's eccentricities, there is a rumor that there is a sixth album - the very first album, of which only a single copy was made and retained by Mr. Doctor himself. Also the original version of 'Dies Irae' that I am reviewing was the official fan club's released box set, a hand numbered release of only 1,500 in the whole universe, including special artwork, lyrics, sheet music, and extensive liner notes, all presented in a leather bound sleeve. Many copies of Devil Doll's early releases often had hand painted covers and liner notes occasionally handwritten, reputedly in Mr. Doctor's blood. (No lie)

Devil Doll has a most unusual musical presentation. Bizarre is perhaps the best description. They have released five albums, the last being this album in 1996 and I could use the same description on all five. The music has been described in numerous ways. Their music has been called Dark Heavy Progressive by some, a Sinister Prog Metal Symphony by others and even Theatrical Goth Rock.

Personally, I find Devil Dolls music to be an odd combination of beautiful melodies with elegant choirs and outrageous vocals of macabre stories. Mr. Doctor, sometimes referred to as the man of a thousand voices, as a vocalist seems more like a carnival barker or master of ceremonies. When you throw in weird sound effects and occasionally strange backing vocals one gets the feeling of listening to some dark ominous theatrical Rock Opera.


Dies Irae, the fifth and last of Devil Doll's official releases is the only album that is broken into tracks. Not to get excited though, as each track segues into the next so it is in effect much like the previous releases, one of which, The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms is one track - 79 minutes long.

Dies Irae has the backing of the Slovenian National Orchestra and may be Devil Doll's most accomplished release. There is obviously a large cast and a plethora of sounds from heavy organ to accordion. As to be expected Dies Irae follows that unique Devil Doll recipe of elegant orchestral with some gothic influences contrasted sharply with keyboard-led passages that feature the sinister, bizarrely twisted voice and antics of Mr. Doctor. With the addition of full orchestration combined with a wide range of instrumentation including by stunning violin work, the appeal of this album is compelling. A good way to envision the music of Devil Doll is to imagine an ominous foreboding horror music soundtrack also utilizing classical and progressive nuances. In comparison to previous releases, the vocal sections are better, as Mr. Doctor's unusual vocal style has been perfected, and with the instrumental portions the instrumental background supporting him is more varied and interesting than the simple piano work that used to be his sole accompaniment.


Devil Doll's vocals are fairly tortured featuring "Mr. Doctor" who sounds more like an eclectic, specter of macabre than a lead singer. Those unfamiliar with his singing style may find it out of the norm as he tends to talk, mumble, screech or stutter his way through the songs in lieu of singing. The result is something that only one's personal taste can judge... some will love it and find it inventive,as I do, for others it will be too strange to assimilate. However the great thing about Devil Doll is not Mr Doctor but the extremely interesting music. Dies Irae contrasts classical strings with great synth, piano and organ work and the occasional brilliant progressive rock breakout. The musicianship is excellent as is the production, something Devil Doll are noted for. Not surprisingly, this album runs like a movie soundtrack with full theatrics and animation of imagery, imbued within the fine instrumentation. Without a question the music is somewhat avante garde and should only be listened to by a receptive audience. In summary "Dies Irae" is an unusual album full of innovation and heavy classical, macabre soundtrack elements, one that this music lover appreciates!

If you're wondering why, if Dies Irae is such a great album, I didn't give five stars, it's because I hate hidden tracks, especially ones with long blank spaces between songs. They are the work of the Devil or in this case the extremely psychotic and sadistic. Track eighteen has a twenty four minute blank spot and I'm afraid at least some of their other albums do as well.

Report this review (#1735)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is a Great Album, great musicians, great voice, but the only thing that i donīt like is the fact that the music still inofensive, (if you take me to the darknes i hope get scared ) they dont take risk, just play the rigt formula to put you in a Phantom of the opera movie, but they dinīt take you to your inside fears. So academic. They need to meet the Residents Diamanda Gallas and David Lynch. "is like a Gorgeos Woman that doesn't now how make love" . but still intersting and unique.
Report this review (#1736)
Posted Friday, January 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've really got a soft spot for this album. It is all a bit tongue-in-cheek, you get the idea they don't really want to hurt you, like, say, Univers Zero. Pseudo-scary, yet highly emotional at times and altogether gorgeous. Very maudlin, with bloodcurdling screams, incisive lyrics and many unforgettable moments ("Mama...I'm cold..."; "Smile, or simply ivory"). A real wierd one, and a grower for sure. One of my favorites for the ages.
Report this review (#38467)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
5 stars Scary, beautiful, grotesque, classic, modern, sad, epic, gloomy, strong, bold, innovative, terrific, melancholic, exciting, original, unique, hard, disagreeble, lovely, marvellous, variated, eclectic, cryptic, enjoyable, imaginative, wreck, precious, soft, dark, luminous... Maybe if I knew more english I could give more adjectives trying to describe this album, because it's hard to explain with words what this record can make you feel...

Absolute MASTERPIECE from this unique band.

Report this review (#44365)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars More normal? Still great.

This is one of the more "normal" Devil Doll records, although I certainly wouldn't call anything here normal. It's less absurd and more symphonic than their previous releases. Mr. Doctor continues to be more a storyteller and "guider" if you will than traditional lead singing. The orchestra is wonderful, and it really helps full out the sound.

As with other albums, there are connections throughout much of the music which repeat, which in the case of Devil Doll, I like to call "notes of sanity" for there ability to bring us back from much of the artistic presence in their music. The organ is perhaps the perfect instrument for the music of Devil Doll, which I would equate to much of the band and this albums style. Dark, mysterious, intriguing, and powerful. My biggest complaint about this album is that they seem to have too much of a comfort zone with the material, and it is notably more plain and less stylistic than some of the others. The playing and musicianship is top notch however.

Those looking to get into the music of Devil Doll might find this as a good starting point, it's their most symphonic release and has a tendency towards more mainstream prog than some of the others. A very artistic and intriguing band, that frankly, needs to release more material.

Report this review (#112533)
Posted Sunday, February 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my opinion this last Devil Doll album is thier best. Solid metaphorical lyrics, frigthtening athmospheres, a great orchestral backround and Mr. Doctor in control of his amazing voice. And if you add the superb but short vocal cotribution of Norina Radovan and the grat work of Francesco Carta on piano, the result is the most mature and solid Devil Doll album.

Using as references B horror movies (including little tributes to Bernard Herrmann) and poetical dark lyrics, Dies Irae is an album which starts with a powerful and hard intro that turns into an almost conceptual album full of sudden variations, constant style changes and scary slow piano sections, everything build to emphasize Mr. Doctor gloomy vocals. Full of memorable sentences ("behind every kiss, a potential Judas", for example) the music slides between symphonic prog and hard metal, making a powerful mixture of different styles and emotions.

Amazing album. Totally recommended to any prog fan specially those who really enjoy dark albums with some decadent touches...

Report this review (#143209)
Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I developed an interest in this group from listening to the streaming song featured on PA, but of course had quite a difficult time finding a copy of the disc. Eventually I just happened upon it at my local used record store and without a second thought purchased it.

Unfortunately, after a few spins I was not so enthusiastic. On the good side, the lyrics are well written. There are some good orchestral arrangements and some heavier sections which add good contrast and keep it interesting, although they aren't exactly the greatest riffs I've ever heard. On the bad side, this CD definitely places the vocals at the forefront, and they are atrocious (and that's coming from a death metal fan). Mr. Doctor has a voice reminiscent of Dani Filth from Cradle of Filth. The lyrics are well written as I said, but the vocals just wear on me so fast. Maybe if the music were more of a presence. For the most part this disc is ambient background music and Mr. Doctor squealing about something or other. Here and there there are the good arrangements which keep me from hating it, but I certainly wouldn't recommend this to any of my friends.

I consider myself pretty open-minded, but there's something here I just can't get past. Maybe it'll click at some point in the future, as there are bits I quite enjoy, but overall this disc just doesn't do it for me. Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars, leaning toward 2....

Report this review (#153183)
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Spend 72 minutes being serenaded by Gollum

You remember Gollum from the "Lord of the Rings" films? That voice, my preciousssss? Well, imagine that voice singing and speaking in enthusiastic narration for over an hour to orchestration and pseudo-metal music. I understand his intent was to sound like that and he has talent but nonetheless it made for a pretty painful experience.

"Dies Irae" is certainly a unique musical experience and I want to begin with the good stuff. This is a beautiful example of musical construction venturing into many different realms and it deserves points for daring and originality. It's a mixture of rock and classical music that unfolds like a theatrical event, with dark themes and lots of spookiness. Many of the highlights for me involved the orchestrations, the strings, and the gothic soprano vocals that come and go. But the unique qualities and the nice pieces of performance cannot come close to saving this from two factors. First, the vocals as mentioned above. The music is almost never allowed to escape the wicked grip of these ludicrous Gollum vocals for the entire length of the album. Now if you are able to embrace these vocals and even enjoy them you may well have an excellent experience. I was not and it took away all of the enjoyment. Second, the music, while well constructed as mentioned, left me under whelmed and unconvinced. To be clearer I was bored silly by "Dies Irae." I respect very much the risks taken in attempting something like this and I'm glad to have heard it but it falls pretty flat. Even in the rock sections the drums and guitars sound pretty vapid and predictable. There is an album that fans of Devil Doll and dark symphonic/metal simply must hear. It attempts similar things as "Dies Irae" but is much more successful, bathing the listening in not only the splendid dark themes but also in gorgeous black melodies and much more fun. That album came out about a decade later and was called "Switch on Dark" by Antonius Rex. It remains one of my favorite discoveries of recent years.

As for Devil Doll I cannot quite call this a good album. The Japanese mini-lp sleeve edition I have is beautiful of course, a luxurious gatefold with glossy paper and cut openings with an insert of artwork. Also comes with a nice lyrics booklet. I would certainly recommend DD fans give it a shot but newbies should consider the vocal element before dropping big bucks on the import as I did.

Report this review (#195075)
Posted Friday, December 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.8 Stars

If you havenīt heard Devil Doll I recommend you this album. For me this itīs not the masterpiece, but I think itīs the most easy-listenable record from Devil Doll.

The voice or Mr Dr??? is exactly what you see in the previous reviews. Itīs like hearing Gollum singing in Rivendell. But thatīs exactly what I like. Itīs not scary... itīs a little uncomfortable.

The orchestration is excellent... The music excellent... I think this kind of music is very risky, and I appreciate that a lot, not everyone will like this kind of music, but -now that Iīm posting in a prog forum- I recommend you to hear this album, if you donīt like it itīs completely understandable, but hearing this just once wonīt hurt you.

If you like this album I recommend you The girl who was... Death.

Report this review (#199677)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Heavy ? Yes, this music is quite heavy. Grotesque dark cabaret ? Yep, checked and confirmed. So what's so good about this music that some are excited enough to give 5 stars and others do not understand and rates with 1 ? Probably the atmosphere. You have to like certain kind of entertainment, certain style that accompanies this. I like old (ancient?) movies, these silent films that may seem funny to some (people in "slow motion", scary monsters that aren't scary to us anymore, when we saw Alien, Scream, I don't know, The Ring for example and other blood flicks like zombie films) and I don't deny that at times, this is just ridiculous for someone from this "age", but let's be honest. I feel the desire to pay them respect. Like youngsters should do to elders. Music is strange, optimistic, nice guitar solos are switching its place with piano backed, spoken voice dominated "songs". Quite a lot instruments, but I mostly hear piano and strings. Some may have problem with getting accustomed (instantly, without time to prepare) to "dead" & "live" passages. Plugged and unplugged working hand to hand, struggling which of them will rule over this dark land. Yes, quite dark it seems.

The questions are: Is this combination good enough to be interesting, be good and even work at all ?

4(-), for the idea that is quite remarkable. Anyway, I like it, even some parts are terrible. Not necessarily spoken ones.

Report this review (#264224)
Posted Thursday, February 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Most mainstream Devil Doll ever went, but not their best - definitely the most accessable single track album, divided into parts which is something the other albums were not gifted with. Not that it seemed nessersary unless people wanted to listen to it intermittantly rather then as the whole song that it represents, which is at turns either wonderful or rather slow and mediocre. Though I still enjoy it and never skip parts, some pieces don't do so much for me as others, a bit like Sacrilegium, I feel it needed the right cut to bring out the goods, and it got an alright one, but until (most likely never) it gets the treatment it really deserves, then it won't be the best Devil Doll ever made. That authority goes to Sacrilege of Fatal Arms.
Report this review (#539921)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unlike most previous Devil Doll releases, Dies Irae was split into parts to allow listeners to easily find particular parts of the composition. Make no mistake though: this is another album- length single-track saga following the precedent and compositional principles established in The Girl Who Was Death, in Devil Doll's characteristic application of symphonic prog compositional principles to gothic rock aesthetics and subject matter. The inclusion of string soloists borrowed from the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra aids the enigmatic Mr Doctor in attaining the level of pomp and gravitas aimed for, and if the band's basic approach hasn't evolved much since the debut, it hasn't degraded much either.
Report this review (#622691)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devil Doll was one of those acts I knew of forever, but never bothered with their CDs, because I wasn't sure if I'd like them or not. Well, I'm glad to start diving into this group, better late than never. Dies Irae was the final release from Mr. Doctor and company. Due to anonymity it's hard to tell why they disappeared, but you get the feeling they mined this strange dark gothic prog for what its worth, but at the same time, there isn't a bad release in the bunch. This is truly an acquired taste, you dig what they do, or you don't. This stuff is truly over the top, you can't help but imagine a cobweb-infested old mansion or castle with pipe organ occupied by a vampire, and the music truly captures that imagination. Make no doubt Mr. Doctor was a horror movie aficionado. Passages that go from one thing to the next, from Gregorian chant, sinister violin playing, pipe organ, evil sounding voices from Mr. Doctor, and rocking passages. There's no denying how much Jacula had an impact on Devil Doll. I sense a little Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson in the process, I guess because Mr. Doctor's voice can resemble a bit of Peter Hammill at time, and funny enough, the evil witch Scotia found on the 1990s PC game Lands of Lore: Throne of Chaos. The music is truly theatrical to the max, so you can imagine them performing this music live with a set that looks like the backlot of a horror movie set. Alice Cooper certainly did his horror rock theater performance, but he did it with a standard hard rock sound, but Devil Doll takes that horror theatrics to the next level with a far less accessible art rock approach. I really think that these guys really gave the sagging prog rock scene a boost, even before Änglagård appeared on the scene. What I really love is this isn't neo-prog at all. The group also tended to avoid synthesizers (although they'd sound great with a Mellotron), keyboards seem confined to piano and pipe organ, but there is no shortage of other instruments. Not an easy listen, this music truly demands your attention, but the payoff is well worth if, if this style appeals to you. If gothic theatrical art work sounds good, give this a try, in fact, give all their albums a try!
Report this review (#1692278)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2017 | Review Permalink

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