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DEVIL DOLL

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Devil Doll biography
Dark and heavy prog band from Italy & Slovenia which inspires their music on the old silent horror movies. DEVIL DOLL's music has been described as "an elaborate and bombastic collision of styles" and "a perverse, yet brilliant soundscape of some forbidden netherworld". Bands like JACULA can be pointed as an influence to this (at least) very different band.

DEVIL DOLL's albums are a journey into the unknown theatres of the unexplored soul and mind, they are like a sick cabaret of unsuspecting and, at times, soul-possessing opera. "The Girl Who Was...Death" is an interesting modern symphonic sound with a pervading air of menace. "Eliogabalus" is like a prog-metal symphony, a grandiose, overarching structure that works like a suite. I certainly didn't take a trip to heaven when I for the first time became familiar with DEVIL DOLL's many masterpieces!!! The music is not for everybody, but recommended to those who like their singers dominant. Recommended to fans of Silent horror movies! LOL

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Queen of PainQueen of Pain
CD Baby Inc 2003
Audio CD$101.26
$39.99 (used)
The Return Of EveThe Return Of Eve
Lucky Bluebird Records 2007
Audio CD$80.77
$19.92 (used)
SacrilegiumSacrilegium
Import
Phantom Sound & Vision 2008
Audio CD$26.99
$24.99 (used)
DIES IRAE(ltd.paper-sleeve)(reissue)DIES IRAE(ltd.paper-sleeve)(reissue)
MARQUEE
Audio CD$68.49 (used)
ELIOGABARUS(ltd.paper-sleeve)(reissue)ELIOGABARUS(ltd.paper-sleeve)(reissue)
MARQUEE
Audio CD$48.90
$57.56 (used)
SACRILEGIUM: SOUNDTRACK VERSION(paper-sleeve)(reissue)SACRILEGIUM: SOUNDTRACK VERSION(paper-sleeve)(reissue)
MARQUEE
Audio CD$38.41
$53.16 (used)
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DEVIL DOLL discography


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DEVIL DOLL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 101 ratings
The Girl who Was... Death
1989
3.82 | 82 ratings
Eliogabalus
1990
3.70 | 58 ratings
Sacrilegium
1992
3.73 | 66 ratings
The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms
1993
3.70 | 99 ratings
Dies Irae
1996

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DEVIL DOLL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Girl who Was... Death by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.89 | 101 ratings

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The Girl who Was... Death
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'The Girl Who Was... Death' - Devil Doll (91/100)

There is so much mystery surrounding Devil Doll that speculative essays could be written on this music's context alone. For how little we really know about 'Mr. Doctor' and his enigmatic history, there are so many clues in his work, however possibly misleading, that give some impression as to the man's character. I first became fascinated in the work of Devil Doll some years ago, and since then, appreciation nor wonder have not abated. The extent to which Devil Doll have maintained this enigma would almost have me wondering whether the whole thing was really an elaborate hoax, but The Girl Who Was... Death stands as the evident work of some manner of genius. Although Mr. Doctor wears his influences (both musical and otherwise) most often on his sleeve, the result is something unique and inimitable. Regardless of your previous experience with goth or progressive rock, metal or even neoclassical music, Devil Doll makes for a stark and challenging experience; prospective listeners have been warned, but those that dare venture forth may find themselves captivated forever.

Considering the established style Devil Doll espouse here, it's easy to forget that The Girl Who Was... Death is the defacto debut from a then-relatively new band; a 1987 LP The Mark of the Beast apparently existed before this but, in true Devil Doll fashion, its mere existence has been under dispute. It's rare to hear of a band debuting with a strong sense of identity, and rarer still to hear a band with an identity all to themselves. In the case of Devil Doll, the odd mesh of Romantic minimalism, gothic post-punk and off-kilter sprechgesang sounds alien upon first listen, but I posit that Devil Doll as a stylistic construct would appear completely natural in the light of his influences. Many of these influences are no doubt as esoteric as Mr. Doctor himself; others are more apparent. Among the latter, classic horror cinema is at the top of the list. The album cover features actress Elsa Lancaster (in The Bride of Frakenstein) in the final moments before her character's death. Long stretches of minimalism led by the piano and eerie strings lend a sense to the archetypal silent horror film score, not to mention the expressionistic lyrics, which divulge a sense of being stalked and chased by an unknowable entity. The excellent TV series The Prisoner (itself enjoying an enigmatic context of no small obsession) is also evoked, through the title, lyrical excerpts (tying into the album's thematic sense of solipsism and the lonesome individual), not to mention a rock rendition of The Prisoner's theme, hidden at the end. Though their aesthetics and chosen mediums are different, I'm sure The Prisoner's creator Patrick McGoohan would at least look upon Mr. Doctor's work with a sense of intellectual respect, if not an appreciation for the music itself.

While the work of an auteur may be seen as a compilation of his influences, it's the resulting product and identity that truly matters, and in the case of The Girl Who Was... Death, the effect is overwhelming. While the style of Devil Doll would be predominantly neoclassical through their five album stretch, The Girl Who Was... Death opens the saga with a more clearcut balance between string orchestrations and rock. The two halves are also more segregated here than they would be on later bouts. Set as a single forty minute composition (the rest of the stated album length is silence, in keeping with the hidden Prisoner theme at the end) the suite jumps between periods of slow, minimal piano, theatrical metal and avant-garde orchestrations. Although the long-drawn piano passages are atmospheric, they're remarkably understated in contrast with the excitement of the heavier parts. The album takes almost ten minutes to 'get going' and shed light on its rockier elements, so listeners with an impatient ear will likely find themselves scratching their heads. Among the musical highlights are a gypsy fiddle solo, a beautiful, longing violin build, carnivalesque fanfare halfway into the work, and a jarring instrumental section towards the latter half, complete with disjointed piano and chilling violin screech, a la Psycho. While the long periods of relative inactivity in the music give the exciting moments greater impact, the effect of its trying minimalism begin to wear off by the time the album is close to finishing. A masterpiece it may be, but The Girl Who Was... Death still offered room for its successors to improve. If Devil Doll's jaw-dropping Dies Irae from 1996 is any indication, at some point those small spaces were filled in.

No discussion of Devil Doll's music would be complete without a regard for Mr. Doctor's vocals themselves. I have saved talking about them for the end of the review precisely because they are the most challenging, puzzling, and altogether compelling part of Devil Doll's music. I am not sure who gave him the nickname 'The Man of a Thousand Voices', but the name is given weight through his performance here. Devil Doll's frightening frontman is a vocalist in the truest sense of the world; his delivery here is less singing by the traditional definition, and moreso incredibly intricate and theatrical speech, with the occasional melodic (or, I daresay, operatic) ingredient. Mr. Doctor's sprechgesang, to put it simply, is weird and scary, and evocative to an almost overwhelming level. It's the sort of strange voice I can only imagine spoken by Peter Lorre, had he actually become a creature from a German Expressionist horror film. For a musical comparison, think Current 93's David Tibet, if he had been somehow forced to stay awake for a month (possibly by the Lorremonster?) watching nothing but Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It's jarring and bound to be a complete turn off to some listeners, but for those who know, it works.

The Girl Who Was... Death is frightening fare, regardless which genre you try to (hopelessly) place it in. Even so, there is a deliberate method to this so-called insanity; behind the maddening screams and gothic bombast, there is the truly uncompromising mark of an auteur here, who let nothing hinder his vision. Particularly in a rock or metal-related work, that sort of purity is hard to come by. The Girl Who Was... Death is one of the best and weirdest albums I have ever heard, and even then it's not the best thing Devil Doll would create. What then can I call it, save for the work of a bona fide genius?

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical

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 The Girl who Was... Death by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.89 | 101 ratings

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The Girl who Was... Death
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by agla

4 stars This masterpiece is the first disc of the enigmatic and elusive Devil Doll, an Italic- Slavic group, led by the mysterious Mr. Doctor. Devil Doll is the name of the movie " The Devil Doll" by Todd Browning, released in 1936, and are one of the most unknown band of modern music, considering that their appearances can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and that their records have been printed always in very few copies, and now seem to have vanished into black hole... The record in question is part of the prog world, a "obscure symphonic prog " considering the importance of classical instruments, a trademark of the group. This record focuses a little more than half an hour a series of songs ( linked between them) inspired by the stories told in '67 by Patrick Mc Gohan, in the television series " The Prisoner ". The haunting voice of Mr. Doctor, scans the various moments whispering, screaming, choking, as the music plays beautifully and always varied, overwhelming, energetic, majestic, creating a nightmare that appeals to the shocking final revelation . An album obscure from the many esoteric references, a journey through death and despair.

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 The Girl who Was... Death by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.89 | 101 ratings

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The Girl who Was... Death
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I will admit that I was drawn to Devil Doll's music more because of the mystique surrounding the band than anything else. I read stories of how the band's frontman was a near-enigma who was only known as "Mr. Doctor;" how the group printed only 1 copy of their first album and then kept it; how the majority of this very album's first edition was burned onstage during a show.

For as weird as the stories are, I was expecting something really strange; perhaps RIO in the vein of Univers Zero or something of that ilk. I guess that just goes to show that you can't judge the sound of a band by its behavior, though, because in comparison to the weirdness of the band their music is almost shockingly normal. Sure, the vocal delivery is certainly one of the more bizarre I've ever heard (Mr. Doctor goes from rasping like he can't breathe to moaning like a disturbed spirit), but the music itself is very accessible, with epic gothic symphonic parts played against crossover prog-metal parts with a touch of folk. There's a lot of interesting music here, but I do feel at times that Mr. Doctor's reach exceeds his grasp.

A haunting, minimalist melody accompanied by some wordless chanting make up the first few minutes of this single track album, with the chanting becoming more strident as the song progresses. Multiple voices coalesce into an epic, gothic sounding collage of sound before the track goes into a more uptempo instrumental section that seems to take audible cues from genres as diverse as symphonic prog and industrial music. This section seems to serve as a kind of prologue, for at about the 5 minute mark it all abruptly drops out, leaving in its place more minimalist instrumentals and for the first time, lyrical vocals from enigmatic frontman Mr. Doctor. These vocals range from growling rasps to guttural shrieks, and in my opinion they definitely fit the off-kilter, almost spooky accompanying music. Another uptempo section follows this, heavily laden with string parts that pair with distorted guitars to create some kind of bastardized fusion between folk and symphonic metal.

For awhile, the track alternates in a similar pattern; with sparse vocal sections juxtaposed against bombastic, symphonic instrumental parts. It's an effective technique even if it does break up the flow of the song a little bit, but I must comment that after several listens the highly segmented pattern does get a tad tedious, as it isn't really deviated from for about 15 minutes. Fortunately, after that, the song does start playing with some new styles, putting robotically distorted vocals against doomily riffing guitar.

The following section again lets the strings take the lead, placing gorgeous melodies and frenetic classical jams against excellently supporting guitar riffs to create a kind of symphonic doom metal. Never content to stay too long in the same place, however, there's another uptempo instrumental breakdown that sounds like nothing so much as a video game soundtrack, followed by another vocal section that sounds like some sort of dark carnival music. In my opinion, this section makes the best use of Mr. Doctor's vocals on the entire album, with the frontman rasping and growling his way through the performance with all the vigor of a carnival barker.

The instrumental section that follows is one of the most melodic on the album, with an almost shocking (given that the album came out in 1989) resemblance to Phideaux. Another hyper- minimal, this time almost dark-ambient section follows, itself succeeded by a dramatic gothic piano part over which Mr. Doctor wails and moans his way through more cryptically dark lyrics.

A series of instrumentals follows, and while they're by turns beautiful, bombastic, and spookily haunting, the development of the track as a whole is a bit strange. The various instrumentals are almost "too epic" in that quite a few of them sound like they could have been the finale for the entire piece. The result is that until there's a thematic reprise at about the 35 minute mark the album sort of just feels like a bunch of different pieces that are all very cool in their own right but don't really develop the flow of the album as a whole. That isn't inherently a problem if you choose to view the album as a collection instead of a single track, but I always find my mind wanders a bit during the interim and when the track proper ends it always comes as a bit of a surprise.

Another note is that though the track is listed as 66 minutes the album proper ends at around 40. There's almost 25 minutes of silence and then there's a very short little piece that makes use of some vocal clips from the episode of The Prisoner from which the album takes its name. It's not a bad little section but, to be honest, I usually find myself turning the album off after the track proper ends. The postlude just doesn't add that much to the album.

All in all, then, "The Girl Who Was... Death" is an interesting album, if not quite a masterpiece. As a collection of distinct pieces of music, it works very well, but as a single epic track, well, I've heard better examples. Absolutely worth a listen (or, better yet, several) but this is, in my opinion, a good album but not a great one.

3/5

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 Dies Irae by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.70 | 99 ratings

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Dies Irae
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 The Girl who Was... Death by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.89 | 101 ratings

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The Girl who Was... Death
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Devil Doll's musical style can be described as a blend of symphonic prog, goth rock, and horror film soundtracks. Though some of Mr Doctor's more pretentious stunts - such as only recording one copy of the band's debut album, The Mark of the Beast, and keeping it for himself, or producing 500 copies of the first run of this album and then burning 350 of them at a concert - might come off as ridiculous attention-seeking, there's no denying that at least on The Girl Who Was Death the man has concocted an intriguing blend of styles which don't obviously go together. With a concept based around celebrating the classic TV series The Prisoner and a typically eccentric vocal performance by Mr Doctor himself, the album is certainly an acquired taste, but one worth acquiring.

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 Dies Irae by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.70 | 99 ratings

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Dies Irae
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Renkls

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.

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 The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.73 | 66 ratings

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The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Smegcake!

5 stars WOW. My friend showed me this. I didn't think we'd get through it! But we had a 3 hour car trip and managed it twice! Well, what can I say...I've never heard anything this strange! My friend is an odd fellow, so I should have expected it. But a 79 minute song!? Insane, really! And those lyrics are just weird and surreal. I wouldn't want to listen often, but man, it's an experience alright! I've just joined here, but I thought I should find this insane piece of music and say just how strange and original it is. I've never heard anything quite like it.

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 The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.73 | 66 ratings

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The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Renkls

5 stars Unlike Sacrilegium, this piece has taken the time (79 minutes worth) to develop into a far more refined and realised work. It remains their masterpiece in my eyes, that they managed to develop the theme into a much more passionate vision only reinforces that. As with all Devil Doll releases, it should not be entered into without preparation. Like having nearly 80 minutes to sit and immerse in the atmosphere that the composition weaves. Because of its length, it makes it a challenging listen, but despite the pretentious construction it pays off, due to its design it truly constitutes an epic and well focused piece, and a true highlight of obscure 1990s progressive music. It should be noted that it contains a short silence after 69 minutes hiding a hidden conclusive ending, but due to the short period of silence, the 5 stars stand.

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 Sacrilegium by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.70 | 58 ratings

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Sacrilegium
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Renkls

3 stars A vision unrefined. Though I found this before The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms, it is not my personal favorite, it feels as if Mr. Doctor was trying to cram as much into the 'song' as he could, which doesn't give the subject justice. The transitions feel awkward, such as towards the end where it abruptly concludes with the choir - never really worked for me. Its refinement in the reworking shows just how important pacing is in the working of musical pieces such as Devil Dolls. Musically, all the potential of a great piece is there, it just needed reordering and proper pacing to give it the musical direction of Devil Dolls follow up masterwork.

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 The Girl who Was... Death by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.89 | 101 ratings

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The Girl who Was... Death
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by Renkls

4 stars My first proper introduction to Devil Doll, this was definitely disconcerting on first approach. Why? probably the length as well as the lyrics, which I had not prepared myself for. But now that it has been about a year since I've come across this band, I now can appriechiate their music much more. For reference, it's not 66 minutes long as the length would suggest, but about 40 when you extract the 26 minutes of silence that hides a hidden track towards the end (worth the wait, but silence can't really be counted as much of a plus, hence it is a four star rating) Instrumentally, it is a very progressive album, many twists and turns which can be comical, strange and obscure. minute 22 for instance has made me laugh a good few times before.

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