Released: 2009, Century Media
Following closely on the heels of 2007’s NINEWINGED SERPENT comes Devian’s second album, GOD TO THE ILL FATED. Former Marduk member Legion and Emil Dragutinovic remain a part of the band and help to continue the sound and style initiated in NINEWINGED SERPENT. That sound is still centered around a black metal style but with ample portions of death metal and thrash being meted out. Those familiar with the previous album will not find any surprises here, just more of the same competent, Swedish melodic metal. Fans of Marduk that are hearing Devian for the first time might notice a few significant changes, notably there is less emphasis on being extreme and a greater focus on more traditional metal and thrash sounds. The packaging is highly professional as well, including lyrics to all the songs and impressive artwork.
Not surprisingly, Devian goes for the jugular immediately with the opener “Mask of Virtue,” a blazing blast-beat driven song. Despite the speed, the notes are clear and articulated and the riffs have some nice melodic touches as well, making this one of the strongest tracks on the album. The ending of “Assailant” has a great Maiden influenced harmony riff while the title track is stocked with slicing riffs and some excellent guitar solos. Finally, “When the Vultures Have Left” slows the frenetic pace briefly before moving into a more mid-paced groove. The guitar playing through the entire album is a jaw-dropping exercise in melody and precision. The solo on “Reap the Storm” is a perfect example of the guitar prowess of the Nilsson tandem.
The vocals are nothing surprising or original. There are standard black metal growls with an occasional death metal low growl, but that’s okay because the focus of this band is clearly on the music. The drums are varied, smoothly shifting from blast beasts to more mid-paced grooves for some of the melodic solo parts of the album. The tempos change quite often on most of the songs but the tuneful riffs and beautiful melodies help keep the tracks interesting without a loss of focus.
Fans who are concerned that the quick follow-up to NINEWINGED SERPENT would result in a drop in quality should relax. This is state-of-the-art Swedish blackened death metal that carefully straddles the gap between extreme metal and more accessible thrash and melodic metal. The emphasis still lies more to the extreme side of the spectrum, but the majesty of the riffs and outstanding musicianship have a definite crossover appeal that could bring Devian metal fans from other genres as well. Generally, I am not a fan of this style of music but the guitar work alone deserves recognition and praise, which makes up for any limitations of the vocal style. I would not be surprised to see this topping many lists for metal album of the year, especially in the extreme metal genre. I refrained from giving this record 5 stars because other then the wonderfully produced guitars, the rest of the production is mediocre. If you are a fan of this style of music or somebody with an open mind, then give GOD TO THE ILL FATED a listen and I doubt that you will be disappointed.