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Wednesday 7th December 2016
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Supporting Cradle of Filth on their 2015 UK tour, a year later and London-based metallers She Must Burn are back in tow with Dani Filth's other band, Devilment; this time, however, they've been promoted to main support on the bill. Walking out onto the restrictive confines of the small stage in Rock City's basement room at 7:45pm, they plough their way through a short set that sees black metal motifs fused to great effect with death/metalcore stylings, and the resulting sonic discharge is well received by the modest gathering in the room. Frontman Joe Sinclair, hooded for the duration, combines incisive blackened screeches with a looser, more dissonant metalcore delivery, and his voice is offset nicely against some clean, euphonic female vocals. While their music succeeds in forging a powerful combination of technical precision, guttural efficacy, symphonic crescendos and bursts of blast-beat led brutality, it somehow still sounds a little too familiar. While the band themselves stand out as talented folk, their compositions perhaps need to veer a little more towards carving a greater sense of individuality. Then they might be able to stand out from the pack. The talent's certainly there.
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Devilment at Rock City in Nottingham, UK, 7th December 2016
Photograph copyright 2016 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Unleashing their sophomore album, 'II - The Mephisto Waltzes', just last month, Suffolk's Devilment are already out on the road in support of said work, for a string of UK headline shows. It seems word hasn't spread far enough, as a midweek slot in the basement room of Nottingham's Rock City sees the 300 capacity room only around half full. However, those present, attired in a gamut of rock/metal shirts, from Steel Panther to Cradle of Filth, make themselves heard with a ubiquity of cacophonic cheers and yells when the lights dim at 8:45pm and the intro music resonates throughout the room. The 'Vampire Hunters' theme from the late/great Wojciech Kilar's exquisitely composed score for 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' is a fine choice, and builds the tension in an appositely grandiose manner, ahead of the band's appearance. As the piece nears its climax, Devilment's quintet of instrumentalists, one by one, take up their positions on the stage, culminating in an appearance from their ringleader, Dani Filth, for whom the audience reserve their most rapturous noise.

The Suffolk dwelling sextet, undeterred by the venue's small stage, launch into opening track 'Judas Stein' with impressive energetic flair from the off, and succeed in delivering an alluringly vibrant rendition, managing to convey all of its disparate passages and tonal shifts to perfection. In fact, everything in this opener has a lot more emphatic punch than its recorded counterpart, as Devilment stamp their sonically authoritative grasp, and immediately prove themselves to be a well-oiled, well-rehearsed, tight unit. And unit is the key word here, as in no small way does this feel like a Dani Filth side-project with some hired hands. That's not at all the case. Devilment are an autonomous entity in their own right, and each musician is integral to the band's constitution, which includes what appears to be a newcomer on guitar tonight, so I can only assume they've recruited a live session guy to flesh out further fretboard articulations.

A track from the band's debut album, 'The Great and Secret Show', is aired next, in the form of 'The Stake in My Heart', before they switch back to their latest for a dose of Hitchcockian themed dark obsession with 'Hitchcock Blonde'. And, with just two albums to their name, Devilment spend their hour and a quarter on stage switching between both works, with 'Summer Arteries'; 'Sanity Hits a (Perfect) Zero'; 'Even Your Blood Group Rejects Me'; and 'Mother Kali' performed from the first, and 'Entangled in Our Pride'; 'Hell at My Back'; 'Full Dark, No Stars'; 'Shine on Sophie Moone' and set closer, 'Under the Thunder', from the second.

It had already struck me, on record, just what an invigorating blast of freshness Devilment have injected into an all-too-often self-imitative, stagnant metal genre, without succumbing to any ephemeral trends of the day. Indubitably, they have a firm handle on distinct motifs from metal's varied past, yet they've managed to innovatively push these forward into exciting, fresh modes of expression. That's been my perception of the albums, particularly the new one... and, live tonight in Rock City, they prove themselves to be an equally compelling live act. Dani is, of course, a veteran of the live stage and his years of experience fronting Cradle of Filth shine through, from his vocal performance, to his presence, to how he manages to work the crowd. But his Devilment brethren are equally as impressive. Newcomer on drums, Eastern Front's Matt Alston, batters his kit in both brutally hard-hitting and subtly steady ways; the tonality of Lauren Francis' clean voice is pure aural succulence (particularly on '...Sophie Moone'), and her keys work is stunning; Colin Parks' varied fretboard skills, from riffage, to solos, to licks, are wide in style and precise in execution; while Nick Johnson's bass work is pulsatingly solid.

Collectively, Devilment are a dominant and dynamic live force, and as the final bars of 'Under the Thunder' blast forth, they've more than proven their worth in Rock City this evening. However, with Dani's focus switching back to Cradle after this tour, and their forthcoming twelfth studio album, let's hope he finds time to fit in some kind of Devilment activity along the way. This Suffolkian dark metal troupe are too damn good to put on ice! Did I say "good"? Sorry, I meant fucking great.
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