Devil Sold His Soul – Loss
Released: April 9, 2021
Rick Chapple – Guitar, Piano
Jonny Renshaw – Guitar
Alex Wood – Drums
Jozef Norocky – Bass
Paul Green – Vocals
Ed Gibbs – Vocals
The British metal renaissance continues with Devil Sold His Soul releasing their fourth album, Loss. A band that combines lush soundscapes with huge riffs and a strong sense of melody, Devil Sold His Soul uses the talents of two vocalists – Paul Green and Ed Gibbs – to explore grief, heartache and healing across ten incredible tracks. The album title is potent, especially considering the sense of longing that engulfed 2020 and continues to linger in 2021. There is a real sense of catharsis for those who have lost and are left behind. What this means is that Loss is an intensely personal listening experience, but one that is enjoyable thanks to the musicianship on show with each track.
Single piano notes kick off the album, a sense of mourning that only grows as ‘Ardour’ shifts into a heavier gear, accompanied by strings and loops. The guttural screams on the verses segue into the clean vocals on the chorus: “maybe I can find a sense of peace”, a sentiment that permeates through each track. Green and Gibbs wrestle across each track, combining in harmonies and dueling at other times. It is a great introduction to the album’s sound, with keys working alongside the bass and guitars to create a wall of sound that moves between pain and depression. ‘Witness Marks’ is a more accessible track, with a great lead guitar melody that will inspire many an audience to chant along. At 8 minutes long, it takes its time to express its sorrow and comes across as a prolonged cry for help. The harmonies just soar, as both vocalists sing with conviction. And then the breakdown hits, a heavy groove that compels the body to move and crash into others, anything to establish a human connection. The quiet come down that follows might represent guilt, a hopelessness that Green and Gibbs convey with utter conviction. The final passage is magnificent, a return to the break down to finish off a truly epic song.
‘Burdened’ kicks off with blast beats and clean vocals. There is nothing prolonged about this, the song is immediate and in your face, before settling into a bass and keys soundscape. The drumming on this is intense in a different way to the other instruments, a real hammering in your head despite the melodic vocals. The loud/soft dynamics are so extreme that the effect is disorientating – is this the same band still playing? Damn straight it is as they capture the pressure that leads to anger and resentment. ‘Tateishi’ is something else entirely, as synth strings lead into a majestic thunder clap and some straight up metalcore angst, accompanied by those gorgeous synths. It’s a fabulous power ballad, a song rich in drama and emotion. ‘The Narcissist’ uses a single piano note to create a feeling of uncertainty and impending doom, and for four-and-a-half minutes doesn’t let go. The riff is slower, closer to doom metal, but erupts into a series of breakdowns. It is dark and heavy in a way the previous tracks aren’t, a perfect counter to the more airy ‘Tateishi’, though no less atmospheric.
‘Beyond Reach’ is an obvious choice for a lead single, and it probably one of the few tracks that didn’t work for me. It feels a bit limited compared to the soundscapes elsewhere, with an earnest vocal style that feels more like emo punk of ten years ago than something more progressive. The heavy vocals are fine but the riff is more in the U2 realm than I might have expected. However it is likely to be a crowd favourite when gigs fire up again, since it is undeniably catchy.
‘Signal Fire’ is another track with a strong sense of mood that builds as the tempo increases, but the riff drops off and it feels like the melody is floating through air. The stillness of the instrumental section in the middle is brilliant. The final two minutes are just epic, like standing on a cliff facing a valley and feeling the wind against your face, only for a fire to rise up and engulf your sorrow. ‘Acrimony’ is more straightforward, with a droning riff as the clean vocals croon about anger for another person. It actually bounces at times too before fading out in feedback.
After such an ambitious series of tracks, Loss closes out with ‘But Not Forgotten’ and the title track, ‘Loss’. ‘But Not Forgotten’ is the heavier of the two, with a huge melody and beat. It conveys the sense of longing that comes from loss with a hopefulness that comes from acceptance. The title track begins with a subtle piano opening, before clean vocals yearn for love and life lost. The grief is relatable and powerful, especially given the last twelve months, as when they sing about how “the sadness always comes in waves”. As a power ballad it builds to the climatic release of the second half. And what a relief it is. The album’s long run time has headed to this moment – finding acceptance and deciding to move forward. The final screams let go of all the sorrow and hatred, the sound becoming distorted before abruptly cutting to static. What does it signify? An ending certainly, but I suspect you’ll find your own catharsis in singing along and deciding yourself.
On Loss, Devil Sold His Soul set themselves an ambitious goal and have delivered an album that can help to make the world a better place for those feeling lost or grieving for someone, or their own mental health. It is an album with lots to say, and ample runtime to say it. Musically they are able to convey the lyrical themes with a rich palette of riffs and keyboards, giving most tracks a distinct imprint. It might be too grim for some, it is definitely a mood listen, but for others it will be exactly what they need right now.
Devil Sold His Soul – Loss tracklisting:
2. Witness Marks
5. The Narcissist
6. Beyond Reach
7. Signal Fire
9. But Not Forgotten