Exposé Online banner

Devil Doll — Dies Irae
(Hurdy Gurdy HG10, 1996, CD)

by Dan Casey, 1996-08-01:

Dies Irae Cover art

If ever there was a band that fit the "love 'em or hate 'em" mold, this is certainly it. Fans tend to be die-hards, and non-fans tend to just ignore this band. So when the fans are saying this is the best Devil Doll yet, even the non-fans should give it a listen since it could change a few minds. Although the label is certainly over-used, this music is clearly in the neo-prog arena but with a few very unique twists. Devil Doll's image has always been death, grimness, darkness, evil, and more death, therefore almost every chord on the album is a minor one (and a few diminished chords to break it up, of course). The instrumentalists do a fine job with their parts, and the violinist and guitarist turn in notable performances. Frontman Mr. Doctor (who despite vicious rumors is probably not Peter Thelen) sings with a deliberately tortured and anguished voice, but also with a very thick accent, making the lyrics often impossible to distinguish. Here's where you either jump on the Devil Doll bandwagon, or kindly disembark. If you're not in the mood for it, the vocals are almost embarrassing, and they can never be taken seriously. That's the key to enjoying this band. If you don't take it too seriously, it can be a lot of fun.


by Mike Ezzo, 1996-08-01:

I suppose it was inevitable that before long this band would find a concept such as this too good to pass up. Given the countless readings of this medieval concept in classical music, though, I'd say it's about due for retirement. As with their previous outings I'm left scratching my head as to how Devil Doll intends this piece to work. The music runs continuously for the duration of the album, with no separate song listings. But it is definitely delineated into distinct sections which bear little or no relation to one another. Perhaps they see it as a kind of mini-opera, or musical drama. Musically speaking the layout alternates between pretty basic heavy rock, and a more subdued, at times quite evocative, recitative. The transitions between the two are almost always abrupt and startling. Without any sort of linking material, a heavily-wrought work like this tends to crumble under its own length. Or it could be very simply one of those cases where the inner logic is revealed on the close scrutiny that only repeated listenings can provide. And for that you have to be a big fan of this kind of music. Unfortunately that task will have to be left to someone else. No antagonism intended; it's just simply not my kind of music. What they do they certainly do well. If you liked their past work, then this will probably appeal even more (It's much better. And the addition of female voice has added a much needed new dimension). But if not then I doubt you will be converted now.


by Steve Robey, 1996-08-01:

Proceed with extreme caution. If you love symphonic progressive rock with a nasty, sinister edge, Devil Doll may be the band you've been waiting for. Fronted by the inimitable Mr. Doctor on vocals, this band continually puts out albums that sound like they were made for some spooky movie soundtrack. Dies Irae is no exception, furthering the sound displayed on the ominous Eliogabalus album from a couple of years back. If anything, this new album is even more challenging, with multi-layered operatic vocals providing additional textural variety to this terrifying tour-de-force. Consisting of eight musicians, Devil Doll boasts three keyboard players (on organ, piano, and synth, respectively) along with a violin player. These instrumentalists provide the majority of the atmosphere accompanying Mr. Doctor's doomy visions. Mr. Doctor himself often sounds like the voice of a troll trapped in a dungeon, loudly whispering his texts with a piano ostinato background. The rest of the band then usually kicks in with a devilishly playful abandon, supplying a blackly humorous counterpoint to the quiet vocal sections. The album consists of one extended piece, separated into 16 equally doomy sections. No particular segment of the piece stands out; the album is uniformly scary, dramatic, and epic-sounding. Highly recommended to those who liked their last album, or anyone to whom the above description sounds appetizing. All others should tread carefully, however. This is heavy stuff that takes no prisoners.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 10 , 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Devil Doll

More info

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Glass Hammer - Lex Live – For those of us that have been around a few years, Glass Hammer has been a steady reminder as to the state of the progressive rock genre and musicians’ passions to keep the flickering light alive....  (2003) » Read more

Cargo - Cargo – Cargo was a Dutch band that released this apparently now highly sought after album in 1972. Their 4 piece lineup featured dual guitars along with bass and drums. Sounding quite similar to countrymen...  (1994) » Read more

Tin Drum - The Edge of Insanity – Here we have a limited edition debut CD by an amazing new German band with musical roots tracing back to the halcyon days of Krautrock and Pink Floyd. This foursome of Hotty Melz (lead vocals,...  (1994) » Read more

Ars Nova - Chrysalis – I know this band from The Goddess of Darkness and Book of the Dead, both from the 90s. The Goddess of Darkness is a near masterpiece of bombastic prog. Despite several changes in line up, Ars Nova...  (2007) » Read more

Kubusschnitt - The Cube – If you are still searching for the near-perfect modern equivalent to Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze from their peak form in the 70s, you may find something tantalizingly close with this stellar...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues