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Devil - "Magister Mundi Xum" (CD/EP)

Devil - "Magister Mundi Xum" CD/EP cover image

"Magister Mundi Xum" track listing:

1. The Arrival
2. At The Blacksmith's
3. Spirit Of The Cult
4. Time To Repent
5. I Made A Pact ...
6. Welcome The Devil

Reviewed by on January 31, 2011

"If 'Magister Mundi Xum' is any indication of things to come, these horsemen of the doom metal apocalypse are going to have a long and bloody road full of headbanging fans ahead of them."

The blessing and curse upon the doom metal genre is that, for the most part, its family tree is basically a single branch that goes back to Ozzy-era Black Sabbath. Thus, the trick becomes to sound like a child of Tony Iommi and crew without sounding like a cover band. On their debut EP "Magister Mundi Xum," the Norwegian doomsters of Devil manage to do so by subtly mixing in New Wave of British Heavy Metal elements that, while not exactly timely, elevate them a bit above the rest of the doom metal pack.

The opening track, "The Arrival," seems to pay explicit tribute to Black Sabbath — both the band and the song — with a familiar thunderstorm and church bells, now joined by the galloping hooves of an apocalyptic horseman. A door creaks open, and a voice tells welcomes us, telling us "I guess you've come to see the devil."

"At The Blacksmith's" takes us down a strange road, mixing Joakim Trangsrud's Ozzy-styled yelping with a riff that blends Tony Iommi sludge with "Orgasmatron"-era Motorhead quite well. The "riders of the apocalypse" chorus is a great fist-pumper.

"Spirit Of The Cult" keeps the momentum going, with an excellent guitar break from Kai Wanderaas and Stian Fossum that echoes some of the prog-rock touches on Sabbath's "Vol. 4." Meanwhile, "Time To Repent" is a death march that marries the cadence of "Children Of The Grave" to a wah-wah-soaked section that could've been an outtake from "Sign Of The Southern Cross."

The disc's biggest misstep comes with "I Made A Pact ...," which features an overly simple riff and drum part. That said, the solo at the end, which seems to have been strangled out of the guitar rather than actually played, is kind of interesting.

The slow "Welcome The Devil" closes things out well, with a riff that's heavy without sacrificing a sense of movement. There's a nice bluesy swagger that morphs into a more prog-rock style in the choruses.

The sound quality is a bit of a mixed bag. The lo-fi analog crunch definitely adds a sense of authenticity to the proceedings, but it also takes some of the power out of Ronny Ostli's drumming.

Devil has recently been signed by Norway's Soulseller label, and is preparing for a big 2011. If "Magister Mundi Xum" is any indication of things to come, these horsemen of the doom metal apocalypse are going to have a long and bloody road full of headbanging fans ahead of them.

Highs: "At The Blacksmith's," "Spirit Of The Cult" and "Welcome To The Devil"

Lows: The overly simple "I Made A Pact ..."

Bottom line: Some NWOBHM elements make this doom metal disc come alive.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)