Label: Small But Hard Recordings
Devilman are Shigeru Ishihara (credited on the album cover for “sub-demonics” AKA bass), Gorgonn Amanita (“thunder electronics” or electronics) and Taigen Kawabe (simply “shrieks”) and they pound an aggressive and tortured sound into electronica with a big dub influence.
First off, after stumbling on a music video that these guys released almost a month back, I felt the urgent need to hear more as soon as possible and to own that music, waiting impatiently after pre-ordering it, as Devilman gathered a sizeable following by playing the likes of noise fest Supersonic Festival and several dates around Europe in a series of Small But Hard showcases, gaining praise across the web by attendees.
The debut features nine tracks and runs just under 39-minutes, meaning the tracks average within the 3-4 minute mark.
Opener Bakan Q, also the aforementioned music video, is an introduction to the darkness that follows throughout the album. Taigen’s vocals over the mocking bassline are especially intimidating and manic, sounding one step from falling into complete insanity; reinforced further by the apocalyptic descending synths around the 2:40 mark.
21 Seiki Dub features this particular passage that just sounds like a bass machinegun, as if sonic rounds being fired at your senses, which is just downright addictive. The following track Ross (presumably named after guest on the keys Ross Sargent) plays like an interlude, and is oddly the nearest thing to what you’d expect to more conventional electronica; organ-sounding keys that play through a series of bipolar chords.
Sixth track 93 is another to feature Taigen, who seems a little less enraged, but still maddening nonetheless with… well, high-pitched shrieks. Again, the instrumental side of things are full mocking and infectious grooves, constantly playing with the frequency and balance of the bass. Nirvana Dub then has a big industrial vibe to it, featuring harsher, metallic sounds – almost resonant of Nine Inch Nails’ “The Slip”-era electronics, especially with the drumbeats and static-like synth lines.
Just to throw another curveball into the mix, the final track Last Black Emperor is basically a harsh noise piece, almost culminating the growing intensity of the album. It could easily be something that would appeal to fans of Merzbow or the electronic side of Man Is The Bastard.
This is just an album that delivers a lot in a considerably short amount of time – before you can even digest what you’ve heard in the previous few minutes, you’re assaulted again in the next few. It’s dark, low and dirty with its psychotic tendencies. If there were any complaints to be had, it would only be that Taigen’s vocals aren’t on it enough – but do the instrumental tracks need them? Probably not, but you just wish there were even more tracks on the album in hope that his mania would appear more.
“Devilman” is one of those albums that really has you wondering just what will happen next… they’ve certainly set the bar high.
Favourite tracks: Bakan Q, 21 Seiki Dub, 93.