Devil Sold His Soul – Empire Of Light
The Empire Of Light artwork is a painting that depicts a dark turbulent electrified ocean with a lone figure on a boat struggling against the towering waves. The painting is stylistically like the Minus The Bear album Planet Of Ice or Poison The Well's Versions with a darkness and content much like Explosions in the Sky's All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone. The expansive nature of the ocean and great waves suits the huge sounds achieved on this album, the darkness seen on the cover however only becomes visible in the music after a look a closer inspection of lyrics such as "hope will only take you so far through the darkness and into the light".
This album starts with guitars wailing with awe and the huge doom emitting bass notes from ex-Rinoa bassist Jozef Norocky before it kicks in proper. The song in question, No Remorse No Regrets, has verses which could be mistaken for You Become You era Poison The Well. Like Poison The Well before them Devil Sold His Soul also experiment with forming post rock-esque soundscapes within the context of a metal/post-hardcore compound. The best example of this comes from the chilled out, expansive Salvation Lies Within, which offers the listener a little bit of respite from the ugly heft of tracks like VIII, and the epic nature of dissonant Time And Pressure.
With the inclusion of strings/keys and more sung vocals than perhaps before, much of the material on this album can be described as anthemic. A New Legacy and The Waves And The Seas are certainly up there with the highlight of 2010's Blessed & Cursed An Ocean Of Lights. It Rains Down unfortunately falls slightly short with Ed Gibbs vocals extending one syllable words with the adverse effect of sounding whiny opposed to anthemic. They slow things down in Salvation Lies Within, which starts with what sounds like a church organ and subaqueous programmed drums, and The Verge which is a slow dirge with backing vocals reminiscent of early Funeral For A Friend song Kiss and Make Up.
Technically talented with colossal songs bulging out of it's bursting belt Empire Of Light is a resounding success. Just as they did before, on previous releases and in the live setting, they hit you straight in the heart with all the power of a star formation. With a more latitudinous exploration into ambience this time around, like GlassJaw did on Worship and Tribute, Devil Sold His Soul have widened the scope of their sound to truly cavernous proportions. As if they didn't sound big enough before! This record should do more than cement their position at the forefront of pioneering post-hardcore. This record should see them join the echelon's of heavy music luminaries such as Converge and Norma Jean.