When I first heard Devil Master, via the Manifestations compilation (or album, depending on who you ask), I wasn’t really into it. As much of a fiend as I’ve become lately for Punk-infused Black Metal, compared to all of the other, more raw and violent acts that I heard, who put out new releases just last year alone, like Slavehouse, Akitsa, Nyredolk, Cruel Master, Dry Insides, City Hunter and so on, it just seemed weak to me and paled in comparison. After a bit, I gave it another listen and finally, it started growing on me, then I began to understand it better. This is a different form of Blackened Punk, with a different idea to it. It took me a bit to get it with Manifestations, and this album takes said idea and smashes it through the roof and makes it even better. Satan Spits on Children of Light is the debut album by these fiends and it brings together the darkness and filth of Black Metal, the ghoulish catchiness of Horror Punk and the atmosphere and vibe of Goth Rock and Post-Punk, puts it all in a blender with some sacrificial blood and sloshes it together into a fine, refreshing shake of psychedelic, melodic darkness, that finds a solid middle-ground between aggression and catchiness and plants it’s feet deep into said ground and doesn’t leave that spot, keeping the balance between those two elements all throughout these 13 tracks and never relies on one or the other. It’s a pretty unique take on an already budding wave of nasty, nihilistic Punk-infused Black Metal, that gives the style a shot in the arm, before it becomes stale and overdone, which it inevitably will, if it keeps growing and more and more bands adhere to it.
Where the other bands mentioned are more about violence and dissonance and use a minimalistic formula to convey it, Devil Master takes that concept and gives it an extra splash of color, with a trippy, psychedelic kick, which immediately becomes apparent as the flowing, dreary melodies of Nightmares in a Human Collapse come flooding in, like the start of an aggressively catchy painting, throwing the rule book of Metal Punk aesthetics out the window and adding a moody, Gothic flair to it; brief (as most of these songs are), but strong opener. Black Flame Candle brings more aggression to the fold, with a Thrashy opening riff and a more hard-edged delivery, as more of those flowing melodies flood over it. Reminds me of a more Gothic version of Nyredolk. You don’t really realize how aggressive these guys can be, until after a few listens, but once it catches on, you’re hooked, at least that’s how it worked for me. Devil is Your Master has a very ghoulish Heavy/Speed Metal feel to it and sounds like a more Gothy and trippy Venom. Pretty interesting mix. There are all kinds of layers to this sound that I didn’t catch at first, like the aggression that lies underneath all of the ghoulish Post-Punk & Gothic Rock nuance that haunts it. This style has become somewhat of a trend lately, with bands like Tribulation and Black Magick SS bringing it to the forefront, but while still similar in style, it wouldn’t really be fair to lump these guys in with that group. It’s in a league of it’s own and it brings something different to a totally different style, whereas Tribulation is more Heavy Metal-oriented and Black Magick SS experiments with psychedelic Rock (far better than a certain other band who does that).
Back to the tracks, Skeleton Hand is another gnarly ripper, that’s as catchy as it is harsh, with some sharp riffs and more watery melodic wailing, that gets pretty Thrashy halfway though. Then we get an interesting, hauntingly catchy instrumental with Nuit. Standouts that follow, are Gaunt Immortality, which is just straight up, Crusty fury throughout, Desperate Shadow, which sounds as if Grave Pleasures conjured up a demon that wound up possessing them, and Dance of Fullmoon Specter, which opens with probably my favorite riff on the entire album; so intense. That creepy little outro is a nice touch as well. When it was over, I understood even more what the band is aiming for and looking to create, by amalgamating all these different elements and sounds from all these different genres like Punk, Black Metal, Post-Punk, Gothic Rock, Crust and even Heavy Metal and Psychedelic Rock. By doing so, they crafted something fierce and nasty, yet catchy and spellbinding all at once and while I wasn’t a fan at first, I clearly just needed to let it sink in for a bit, and give it a moment to take effect. It certainly did take said effect and honestly, this is better than anything on Manifestations, so they are clearly growing as a band and still honing their craft, and doing so pretty damn well. Don’t let the coating of ghoulish, gothy, spookiness fool you, if you’re looking for good Blackened Punk, this isn’t a bad place to come, it may be one of the bigger names right now, especially considering that it’s under the Relapse banner, but it’s still some nasty, aggressive stuff and it’s not to be slept on.
This is a style that’ll either take a bit to catch on and need a chance to grow on you, pull you in right away, or that you won’t like at all, some bands adhering to this formula have had varied success in grabbing my attention and did so at different paces, but trust me, this ain’t no Ghost or Zeal & Ardor or any of that other hipstery millenial crap that floods the streets nowadays, this is Metal Punk at its meanest, just with some black magic and sacrificial blood added to it. The Devil is indeed your master and this is his new favorite album to collect souls to. Trippy, dreary and full of attitude. Excellent stuff.