I, The Devil

May 3, 2019


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Deiphago may not have broken out in the underground consciousness until 2006’s Satanik Eon, but the group’s origins stretch back to the late 80s.  First based in the Philippines before relocating to Costa Rica, the black/death metal band has become known for their relentless and murky take on the genre over four full length albums.  For their newest album I, The Devil, Deiphagohas continued their relentless and hellish attack on listeners but has changed up the production values courtesy of Kurt Ballou and Brad Boatright.  The result is an all-out war on the senses that bludgeons, scorches, and bludgeons again.  It may not differ significantly from the band’s previous output, but it pushes their playing ability and volume to the limit in a way that is sure to hook those whose tastes run towards the most extreme variants of metal.

With the change in who is behind the boards this time around Deiphago has gained a bit more clarity but remains as overwhelmingly dense and heavy as before.  Previously the recordings favored murkiness and grime, which would result in the blasting guitar and drum work blurring together into a sometimes-impenetrable wall of sound.  That still happens during some of the chaotic and otherworldly sounding guitar solos that tear through many of the songs, but there’s a bit more separation between the elements which makes it easier to make out the individual riffs and warlike cadence of the drums.  Deiphago’s still got speed that puts the best of black and death metal to shame, but there’s added complexity in how often they shift tempos and move between different elements in a matter of seconds.  It’s all performed with an incredible amount of precision, and at times it sounds like these guys are stretching themselves to their physical limits without missing a beat.  Compared to the one-dimensional blasting of a lot of “war metal” there’s more substance on I, The Devil to draw listeners in, and while some of the songwriting does fall into some patterns by the end the instrumentals continually draw you in from beginning to end. 

Voltaire 666’s vocals are front and center throughout the album, which makes them all the more impressive considering that they’re able to stand above the sheer amount of noise the rest of the band generates.  His vocals are on the higher side of the spectrum, with the screams often starting off at a mid-range and moving upwards towards as the songs reach their peaks.  It’s overwhelming and there’s very little time to breathe with how fast and vicious the performance is, but that’s also one of the most appealing elements of Deiphago’s madness.  Listen to how genuinely unhinged and demonic the screams towards the title track and you’ll get a true feel for how far these guys push themselves for their craft.

I, The Devil takes all the elements showcased on Deiphago’s previous efforts and takes them to an entirely new level.  The instrumentation is somehow even faster and more violent, the slightly clarity of the production only helps to make the blasting hit harder and with more precision, and the entire experience feels like it’s going to blow you to pieces.  It might prove to be too much for some, but listeners who gravitate towards the most unrelenting and nightmarish black/death metal around are likely to find that this is one of the best examples from the last few years.  I, The Devil is out now on Hells Headbangers Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg

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