"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Sarah Jezebel Deva - "A Sign Of Sublime" (CD)

Sarah Jezebel Deva - "A Sign Of Sublime" CD cover image

"A Sign Of Sublime" track listing:

1. Genesis (2:11)
2. A Sign Of Sublime (4:04)
3. She Stands Like Stone (4:12)
4. The Devil's Opera (5:16)
5. They Called Her Lady Tyranny (4:54)
6. The Road To Nowhere (5:03)
7. Your Woeful Chair (6:09)
8. A Newborn Failure (2:06)
9. Daddy's Not Coming Home (4:07)

Reviewed by on August 29, 2010

"The album is tailor-made to fit Deva’s versatile range, but a few underwhelming tracks expose songwriting kinks."

Sarah Jezebel Deva is most well-known for her time with Cradle of Filth, lending her operatic voice to most of the band’s catalog. Along the way, she’s done session work for Therion and was the lead vocalist on Angtoria’s debut “God Has A Plan For Us All.” For her first solo album, Deva takes a little bit of everything she’s been involved with and molds it into “A Sign of Sublime.” The basis of the album’s sound is Gothic metal, though symphonic elements play a huge hand in the development of each song. The album is tailor-made to fit Deva’s versatile range, but a few underwhelming tracks expose songwriting kinks.

Deva enlisted the help of several notable musicians, including Cradle of Filth bassist Dave Pybus, former Trigger The Bloodshed drummer Max Blunos and former Cradle of Filth/My Dying Bride/Anathema keyboardist Martin Powell. While Blunos’ technical ability is muffled by a restrained performance, Powell is given a looser leash to work with. His synthesizers and symphonic work add texture to the music and the occasional heavy lyrical subject matter. Unknown guitarist Ken Newman is the only sore spot, as his riffs are muted of power in the mix and he doesn’t have much to work with besides the brief lead here and there.

Anybody who has been following Deva’s career will not be too surprised by “A Sign of Sublime.” There’s the token instrumental intro, the epic over-the-top opera track (“The Devil's Opera”), and the haunting piano ballad (“Daddy’s Not Coming Home”). All of these tracks are done with a professional grace that can only come from a singer with years of experience. Deva’s voice is a pleasure to hear, as she does everything from soaring high notes to a quick, almost-rapping style. Even when the material is not up to par, her performance keeps the album afloat.

The title track and “She Stands Like Stone” stick to an upbeat, forceful tempo that is built upon Deva’s multi-tracked, sultry voice. The band works well in providing the backdrop to Deva’s twisted thoughts and ideas built upon depression and emptiness. “Your Woeful Chair” has the best chorus on here, as she sings the line “Open your eyes” with such passion that it could invoke that same reaction from a coma patient. Other than the bland intro track, “A Newborn Failure” is too short to be anything more than an extended interlude into the final track.

Fans of Sarah Jezebel Deva’s previous work will find “A Sign of Sublime” to be a solid start to her solo career. She has immense talent and aligned herself with stellar musicians, though most of them are underutilized. There isn’t anything on here that Gothic metal fans haven’t heard before. A few crafty tracks provide hints of something grander in scale that should be used as a building block to work on for the next album. While Deva definitely has the voice of a goddess, the nasty songwriting beast lays down black-and-blue marks that not even a goddess could hide.

Highs: Deva's great voice is used to its maximum potential, Martin Powell's ever-present keys.

Lows: A few underwhelming tracks, bland guitar work, Max Blunos' restrained performance.

Bottom line: Fans of Sarah Jezebel Deva will like her take on Gothic metal, though the songwriting is often not up to par.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

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)