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 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.


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.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 10 , 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Devil Doll

More info

Latest news

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tony Levin - Waters of Eden – Over the last half dozen years, King Crimson bassist Tony Levin has produced a small but impressive body of work on his own Papa Bear Records, including World Diary (1995), a collection of...  (2001) » Read more

Hamadryad - Safe in Conformity – Montreal-based outfit Hamadryad’s sophomore effort finds them consolidating the gains made with their widely-hailed 2001 debut, Conservation of Mass. The band faced a serious challenge with lead...  (2006) » Read more

Flyin' Ryan Brothers - Blue Marble – The Ryan brothers, Jimmy and Johnny, have been a fixture of the Chicago music scene since the 70s when they were members of competing local bands. In recent years the two have joined forces to bring...  (2006) » Read more

I Giganti - Terra in Bocca (Poesia di un Delitto) – Like the early New Trolls, I Flashmen, and countless other Italian groups between 1967 and 1971, I Giganti were a psych/beat group attempting to break new musical boundaries. The influence of both the...  (1995) » Read more

Steve Peters - Occasional Music – My only encounter with Peters’ work to date has been his EP length disc From Shelter, released on Cold Blue a few years back, which had a fairly unified concept and approach, fitting in well...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues