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Devil Doll - Dies Irae CD (album) cover


Devil Doll


Heavy Prog

3.71 | 120 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

semismart | 4/5 |


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