Released: 2007, InsideOut
Cheesy as this may sound, Devon Graves is a man in touch with his inner darkness. Since the late 90's dissolution of cult favorite prog-metallers Psychotic Waltz and their vocalist's subsequent name change (good move - somehow "Buddy Lackey" just doesn't sound very 'metal') and formation of Deadsoul Tribe, Graves has continually plumbed the depths of the bleaker, more melancholic sides of human emotion, thoughts, and feelings, and managed to convey what he's dredged up therein to his listeners in a truly poetic style that blends some progressive elements of his former band with the brooding energy of Tool, psychadelic influences from Pink Floyd, and touches of folk from Jethro Tull. On 2007's A LULLABY FOR THE DEVIL, Graves has continued to progress along the shadow-strewn trail he's been following over the course of the previous four albums but, unsatisfied with simply duplicating prior efforts, has incorporated a new level of atmospheric layering of sonic textures into the music, making this album simultaneously the most diverse, emotionally haunting, and flat-out best release of the band's career so far.
While this album, like prior Deadsoul Tribe releases, is marketed as "progressive metal," it's not what you automatically think of when that particular term is applied to a group. Certainly there's evidence throughout many of the tracks Graves is a talented guitarist, but the technicality normally associated with prog-metal groups is left by the wayside in favor of emotional content in the music, resulting in a form of 'prog' that somehow comes across as unpretentious and 'human,' for lack of a better term. The 'prog' on this album really applies to the variety of sonic tapestries presented, from the swirling-vocalled Sabbathy metal crunch of opener "Psychosphere" to the sadistic-whispered fury of aggressive power metal cut "Here Come The Pigs" to the beautiful psychadelia-laced ballad "Fear" to the gothic windings of "Any Sign At All" to the absolutely fantastic instrumental "The Gossamer Strand," which sees melodic piano lines, superbly emotional lead guitar, and dark, heavy, Tool-like riffage flawlessly blended with an Ian Anderson-like flute performance. Nowhere else is this variety as clearly portrayed in a single track as it is on the epic "Goodbye City Life," which features a narrative introduction, huge and dark-toned orchestral arrangements, gorgeously melodic piano segments, near-hardcore shouted furious vocal sections, another amazingly evocative Jethro Tull-influenced flute portion, and proggy layered-guitar work all in the course of eight and a half minutes. Throughout the near-fifty-four minute length of the album, despite all the different paths taken, A LULLABY FOR THE DEVIL never loses its way or fails to captivate the listener with its twists and turns, the Pied Piper-devil on the cover (positioned in a mimic of Ian Anderson's trademark pose as a means of tribute) appropriately beckoning all to follow him down the corridors of the umbral labyrinth Deadsoul Tribe has built to be explored.
This is, like all prog albums regardless of how the term applies, not for everyone - as was said of a previous release from the group, this is definitely not background music, but rather a musical expoloration that demands attention and multiple listens to properly allow yourself to be immersed in its dark, haunting, and very humanly honest atmosphere. A LULLABY FOR THE DEVIL is an album bereft of compromise or pretention that defies labels and expectations, and absolutely should be on the list for fans of the band's prior works and those others open-minded enough to enjoy what it has to offer.