Devil Sold His Soul - Loss review


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Band: Devil Sold His Soul
Album: Loss
Release date: April 2021

01. Ardour
02. Witness Marks
03. Burdened
04. Tateishi
05. The Narcissist
06. Beyond Reach
07. Signal Fire
08. Acrinomy
09. But Not Forgotten
10. Loss

By going through loss, Devil Sold His Soul seem to have found themselves again.

Devil Sold His Soul made splashes in the underground towards the tail end of the 2000s with an impressive brand of post-hardcore that exemplified the musical overlaps between this style and post-rock/post-metal. Marrying the punky attacks and blissful interludes of post-hardcore with some muscular post-metal riffing and ambient inclinations, DSHS captivated UK audiences, sharing stages with bands as wide-ranging as Cult Of Luna, Envy and Bring Me The Horizon. However, after releasing their third album, Empire Of Light, in 2012, they entered some wilderness years, with founding vocalist Ed Gibbs replaced by Paul Green and only 2014's Belong ╪ Betray EP to show for it. However, with Gibbs returning to the band, Devil Sold His Soul have a dual-vocal attack, and after 9 years their fourth full-length is upon us.

The album's title, Loss, is inspired by the grief and healing undertaken by the band in the past decade, with the members losing several family members. However, the tone of the record is, if anything, brighter, at least instrumentally, than some of their earlier material. There are regular periods of heaviness on the album, but overall the current version of post-hardcore feels more connected to post-rock or metalgaze than post-metal, regularly featuring blissful guitar leads and atmospheres, whether in the form of shoegaze-y walls of sound ("Signal Fire"), post-rock tremolo ("Tateishi") or more distinct melodies (such as a particularly memorable lead early on in "But Not Forgotten"). This is surprising to me, given that Loss is the group's debut album on the decidedly metal record label Nuclear Blast, but perhaps grief sent the band's writers in search of hope and beauty, which is entirely understandable.

The above is something of a generalization of the album: there's still heavy riffs and heavy songs across Loss, just for the most part not so much of a metal variety. The song that probably leans closest in that direction is "The Narcissist", one of the shortest tracks here and a quite muscular song, with some powerful mid-tempo riffs amidst bursts of post-hardcore aggression. Beyond that, there's slower riffs to get the head banging on the likes of "Witness Marks", "Burdened" and "But Not Forgotten", but much of the other harder-hitting moments are based in punky post-hardcore blasting and rampaging, such as bursts on "Tateishi" and "Signal Fire". Even in these stretches, with the vocals shredding and drums pounding, the guitar work is quite often on the cleaner, more atmospheric or uplifting side.

As far as the vocals go, this is Devil Sold His Soul's first proper studio outing with Gibbs and Green as co-vocalists, with both contributing clean and screamed vocals. The duo have sufficiently distinctive clean singing voices to offer different dynamics on the album; Gibbs has a more nasal, I guess, tone, whilst Green has a richer tone. Both singers can be easily compared on "Beyond Reach", one of the more notable displays of them trading off with each other. If I'm honest, I'm definitely more inclined towards Green's vocals than Gibbs'; however, there's space for both to make good contributions to Loss, with the duo combining to great effect with some stirring vocal harmonies on "Burdened", probably my favourite track on Loss.

In terms of things that the band do particularly well on Loss, my focus is first drawn towards the song I just mentioned; the early combination of blasting drums and passionate singing on "Burdened" sets the scene for a rousing post-hardcore cut that ventures between slow, punchy riffs, mellow downtime and heart-wrenching soaring vocal melodies. Beyond "Burdened", I found myself particularly enjoying the punch of "The Narcissist", the stirring climax of "Signal Fire", the bouncy grooves in "Acrimony" and overt melodies on "But Not Forgotten". As far as potential limitations to Loss go, over half the songs on the record exceed 6 minutes, and a few of these tracks are somewhat prone to losing steam a couple of minutes before they're over. There's also a more personal issue in that I have a 'like, not love' relationship with post-hardcore, and whilst Devil Sold His Soul overcame that barrier on some of their previous works by virtue of their heavier inclinations, by downplaying those metal elements on Loss, I do find myself moderately enjoying but not perhaps loving the music across the majority of the record.

After such a long gap between releases, Loss is a successful return for Devil Sold His Soul in their current incarnation. I'm not overwhelmed by the record, but it's a demonstrably solid metal-leaning post-hardcore album with a lot of heart and some evocative instrumentation.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Written on 08.04.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 49 users
08.04.2021 - 20:50
That is such a "we used to be hardcore, but now we're indie" cover art.
Serenity is no longer wishing you had a different past.

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