Released: 2012, Icaro Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Yet more output from a country that is fast becoming for death metal what Norway means for black, Poland seems poised to strike the extreme metal community with a monopoly of high quality and highly glossed music.
Stricken with a name that is perhaps suffering from the ‘lost in translation’ ailment (just try not to think of Rory Bremner impersonating a diabolical pantomime villain), Devilish Impressions make no apologies for a leaning towards their fellow countrymen Behemoth’s visual approach. Well, by “a leaning” perhaps ‘direct lift’ might be more fitting since their makeup, poses, wardrobe & even desaturated CGI cathedral cloister backdrop warrant more than just a double take in mistaking it all for the promo artwork for ‘Demigod’, opting also for blacker-than-thou quasi biblical pseudonyms for each bandmember. Still, it’s a formula that’s proven on repeated occasions to provide success, so... Punchy, kick-laden stabs open ‘Simulacra’, at once laying all cards on the table for what could promise to be an impressive armoury of technical talent and creative angles on the blackened, symphonic death metal formula. Again calling on tried-and-tested principles, opener ‘Icaros’ explores an oft-visited lyrical theme and unfortunately sheds little in the way of new light onto the subject. Sitting back into a mid-paced triplet pump, crunchy riffs soon give way to layered clean vocals that tread a little too closely to forced operatic pomp for comfort or relevance to the surrounding music’s severity.
Continuing with the mid-paced feel (occasionally no bad thing, in relative measures), ‘Legion of Chaos’ exhibits some milky pinched harmonics punctuating what might otherwise be fairly pedestrian riffing which sticks to the basic chord progression.
Frontman Quazarre proffers a welcome few moments of genuinely interesting choices in keyboard parts & sounds overall, thankfully not sticking to the orchestral patches that can typically be found skulking in the wings of so many black metal albums.
With ‘Lilith’, Devilish Impressions manage to pull out a rather unexpected but nevertheless deftly executed and lavishly composed shift in tempo to a more doom-laden slant, flexing melodic muscles which will go far to distance themselves from knee-jerk comparisons to other more high profile Polish acts of the same ilk.
‘Fear No Gods!’ sees the band take a stab at laying down some blasts that this far into the album arrive not a moment too soon. Occasional dalliances with more technocentric synth sounds come to the fore yet thankfully rarely outstay their welcome too long to become an annoyance... yet it’s close, but before much can remain to provide negative distraction the Poles manage to save things with some extremely enjoyable, fist throwing choruses.
Exhibiting some of the band’s blacker leanings, ‘The Scream Of The Lambs’ pushes out some open tremolo picking and blast beats with flicknife precision, offering some tantalising flirtation with leadwork. As swiftly as it came, the dabbling with speed is put aside in favour of yet more mid-paced stomp with ‘Spiritual Blackout’, this time donning more of a foot-on-monitor rawk grimace that succeeds in not actually feeling altogether too out of place.
‘Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici’ is ‘Simulacra’s clear highlight. From the lyrical nod towards Crowley / Magick to the subtly atmospheric and considerately delivered synth work, it’s with this song that the trio seem to have pulled out all the stops and concentrated on making a captivating mixture of blackened chill and excellent death metal riff work.
Continuing the orchestral approach, ‘The Last Farewell’ throws almost film like swathes of strings to the fore to present a somewhat romantic wild card on the album, with clean singing sparingly delivered to provide welcome changes in vocal veneer.
Closing the album (unless you’re decent / sensible enough to buy the digital bonus-track package...) is the closest these Poles may ever get to something of a mountain top instrumental ballad which, whilst it may sound bordering on the preposterous, actually works extremely well in giving the impression of a conclusion to a worthwhile musical journey. It would be extremely surprising to hear that these chaps aren’t ardent fans of the occasional film epic.
Saved very much by its second half, this entire piece features a persistent theme of choices (both musically and lyrically) which initially threaten to be off-putting but that fleetingly pass on their way before you can identify them as unwelcome guests. The technical ability is clear and the ear for good songwriting is strong (with most songs curiously clocking in around 5 minutes), there is much to differentiate Devilish Impressions from the plethora of similar competition in the scene, however what may be due to lift them to a higher level is to see if they can bear outgrowing their evident & unashamed Behemoth imagery fan-dom.
Review by: Hal Sinden