Devil Doll - Eliogabalus review
|Release date:||May 1990|
01. Mr. Doctor
"I don't give a damn
For Caligula: just his horse!
And I'm bored by
To cross the Rubicon only".
Does this name, Devil Doll, ring any bell? Well, you should know that it's one of the most interesting & innovative music acts. Ok, I'll try to minimize my qualifications for the present review, even if it's so hard…
Mr. Doctor is an artist from Slovenia, settled in Italy. Well, we don't know a lot on his biography. But we know his works. So this band formed by him is Slovene - Italian. Also, this album was recorded in Slovenia.
"Eliogabalus" is the second release of this band. The title is the name of one of the Roman emperors (203 - 222 A.D.), known for his luxurious life & intriguing personality. The album features two tracks (!), each of them with a length of over 20 minutes. But, for sure, boredom is a foreign word for these two compositions. For sure, this name hasn't been chosen pure and simply, but for a reason. This personality was quite used in arts in the late 19th century (paintings, novels, plays a.s.o.).
Because this album is "decadent". It is like a play transposed into music. Or a musical, as Mr. Doctor's various interests might show. It's correct: it's a theatrical work, reflected both in music and in voices. And in the cover & art work, as well. Ok, starting with the cover: it's a crowded audience in a large theater, formed mainly by dolls (!). Following this image, you should know already what to expect. Or, as the chorus sings: "Flesh and blood puppets/ in the scene of the game". Well, if heavy metal would have been invented in that century, I guess it would sound like this album.
One further thing on this: theatrical, grotesque, scaring. After each listenings of this album, I have the strong impression of a subterranean state (of mind).
The music is overwhelmingly varied. It is so a big range of sounds: from piano, organ, violin, accordion, to heavy guitars. And even moments of silence, as in the second track. The guitar moments are very well inserted; although the leading role is played by violin and piano. And sometimes they are in a strange sort of duet. Listen carefully to these two instruments. They are able to sound so interesting. Sometimes they are rather sinister, as in a lucid nightmare. But I won't discuss here the whole range of "emotions" expressed. You would better ask Mr. Doctor himself. Or you could try to discover it by yourself.
About the voices, now. Mr. Doctor's voice is one of the weirdest voices I've known: from whispering to loud, from low to high. The chorus performs very well. No complaint about that. The voice follows the music and sometimes it is used to introduce the musical themes.
Perhaps the most interesting issues concerning this album are the sources of influence, both lyrically and musically. The name of this band was taken after an old movie. The whole imagery reflects this. Also, lyrically, search for the literature from that period I have mentioned before. But also, count here the genius of Doctor himself.
Musically, it is even harder to describe the influences, as it is a whole complex set of themes & motives transposed on this album. Well, from classic music to goth(ic) and a bit of progressive, too (!). Yes, it is correct. Perhaps you already know, Italy was an immense scene for progressive rock in the 70s. And the influences are reflected in some passages of "Eliogabalus", too, especially for piano. I'm not saying this album copied anything; I'm talking only about the influence.
About the posterity. Well, I can't help to link such themes as the Devil Doll's music with Il Segno del Commando (their two albums) or, a far better known band, Arcturus (La Masquerade Infernale).
Such a release is very difficult to qualify. What might be? Symphonic? For sure it is so. Gothic? Obviously. Rock? Yes. Progressive? A bit; and I'm not saying that I love so much this genre. Well, it's even metal in some parts. But I think it's something more than that. And it's dark, too.
I'm sure I'm not exaggerating if I'm saying this album is a masterpiece. (Adult) advisory: if you are a purist, don't listen to it, because you might not like it. It's sort of a love or hate album. But if you want something really interesting, innovative and strange, go get it.
This album is nothing less than art. 10.
"Life is a state of mind".
|"Eliogabalus" is nothing new after its forerunner, but compared to most other metal albums it's a giant in originality. The Devil Doll sound is classic and intact. No significant changes. Although "The Girl Who Was...Death" can be considered to be their absolute horror album, "Eliogabalus" is more sad. But don't worry, the horror pieces are still here and alive. It still sounds like a nightmare, in the good way.
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