It’s always hard to replace a band member but when that person is the face and voice of the group, the task becomes increasingly difficult. With Paul Green now at the helm, Devil Sold His Soul’s new EP, Belong ╪ Betray, triumphantly proves that all problems can be solved, all negatives can be transformed into positives and all obstacles can be overcome.
With an underground fanbase steadily growing over the course of their formative years to the release of 2012’s ‘Empire of Light’, Devil Sold His Soul were a band on the rise. Each release was received favourably by both fans and critics and it seemed like the sky was the limit until vocalist Ed Gibbs’ departure in April 2013 threw a proverbial spanner in the works. Ed’s haunted screams and soaring singing was as instantly recognisable as it was an integral part of the DSHS sound, so his absence easily could have signalled the end of the journey for the post metal sextet. They hastily recruited longtime friend and The Arusha Accord vocalist, Paul Green to take over (unannounced) during a European tour and although more than capable in a live setting, the release of new material would be the event that truly signified whether DSHS had made the right decision to carry on without Gibbs.
It is therefore fitting that opening track ‘Devastator’ begins sombrely with a mournful vibe before kicking in with a rebellious and defiant riff, indicating that the past is the past for a reason and the only way to move on is to attack the future. There is no denying that Paul Green’s vocals are different to his predecessor’s but they are not dissimilar enough to be alienating and they most definitely fit the anthemic music that DSHS create.
The sorrowful ‘Time’ was released as a single to introduce fans to Paul Green back in October last year and is still as teeth-clenchingly poignant as ever, and the recently released ‘Unveiled’ (much like ‘A New Legacy’ from their previous release) proves that DSHS are more than capable of writing tracks of radio-friendly length without sacrificing the highs and lows that make their music so enthralling.
As the instrumental interlude ‘╪’ allows the listener time to reflect, it is clear that in terms of musicality, the band have become a little more concise with their latest material. Their massive-sounding and goosebump-inducing walls of sonic brilliance are still allowed time to breathe but it also seems like the fear of quick transitions has dissipated, resulting in music that will appeal to those with shorter attention spans who may have disregarded previous efforts as boring or drawn out.
Saving the best until last has never been more fitting than when applied to the EP’s closing track. Introduced with a piano followed by typical high tempo distorted chords and screams interspersed with lovely sung passages, ‘Alive’ takes all of the aspects that make the band who they are and forges them into a powerful uplifting song which drops out and comes crashing back in with the most uplifting and beautiful two minutes of music that Devil Sold His Soul have ever created.
The transitional period that DSHS experienced obviously created numerous doubts and questions in the minds of the band and fans alike, but as Paul Green so reassuringly belts out, “We’ll find these answers on our own”, and the five glorious tracks that make up ‘Belong ╪ Betray’ ARE those answers.
Overall rating: 9/10
‘Belong ╪ Betray’ is now available to purchase, click here!
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Written by Matt Bradley.