DEVIAN
"Ninewinged Serpent"

(Century Media)

01. Serenade For The Fallen [Intro]
02. Dressed In Blood
03. Heresy
04. Scarred
05. Suffer The Fools
06. Fatalist
07. Gemini Is The Snake
08. Instigator
09. Remnant Song
10. Ninewinged Serpent
11. Burning Daylight
12. Jackal

RATING: 7.5/10

Although ex-MARDUK vocalist Legion describes "Ninewinged Serpent" by his new band DEVIAN as "a pummeling blackened thrasher", the style more closely resembles the heaviest (and older school) end of melodic death metal, albeit with some black and thrash elements. Joined by ex-MARDUK drummer Emil Dragutinovic, guitarists Joinus and Tomas Nilsson, and bassist Roberth Karlsson, the album is a purposeful departure from the work of MARDUK.

A rather brutal beast, "Ninewinged Serpent" is built upon traditional song structures that may be dripping with iniquity, but offer a slew of fairly catchy choruses, particularly on songs like "Dressed in Blood" and "Heresy". Though the riffing is thick and dark, and the rhythm section muscular, at times the sound seems a bit too compact (even with the Fredrik Nordström mix). That's not much of a criticism though and probably has more to do with the peculiarities of my own ears. Overall, the sound is a powerful one. One similarity that runs through most of the album are the melodic, yet grim, harmonies of Joinus and Nilsson, while many of the solos are fiery and ferocious. Changing up the arrangements here and there, such as with the ice-cold picking heard introducing "Gemini is the Snake", is but one aspect of the band's solid songwriting proclivity. As for Legion, his vocals are upfront in the mix and decipherable, reminding one of the command of patterns he demonstrated on MARDUK's "World Funeral".

Black metal purists and MARDUK diehards may not approve of Legion and Emil's detour from their former band's stripped down and scathing approach, but that's kind of the point. "Ninewinged Serpent" is a fine debut album that exploits the members' talents and ability to write some pretty memorable tunes. Mellow this is not. The idea still seems to be one of beating the listener to a bloody pulp. Not too shabby.

"The U.S. embassy in London has turned down Pete's [Way, bass] application for a working visa — even though the respective authorities in the U.S. homeland had already approved it. The U.S. embassy did not say why they turned down the application. We will now start to make arrangements for a bass player to stand in for Pete on the USA tour dates, and will let you know shortly who this will be."

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