Album Review: Daeva – “Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…”

We’ve said it before and I’m sure it will come up again (in fact, I know we talked about this in the most recent Album of the Month chat), but there is truly something about the way that a band chooses to style themselves that says everything about what you’re going to find inside.  In the same way that you eat with your eyes first at a fancy restaurant, you listen for the first time when you look at the album cover, and in this case, Daeva hit the unholy trinity of dope, old school album art, a bitchin’ logo and the all-important ellipsis in the title of their long-awaited debut Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…

It’s been five long years since Daeva broke onto the scene with their ripping debut EP Pulsing Dark Absorptions.  While an absence like that would be telling of a band that isn’t going anywhere, in Daeva’s case, it’s because three of the four members are already in Crypt Sermon, who are doing absolute work, and it’s no surprise that 20 Buck Spin also chose to incorporate Daeva into their fold as well.  Where Crypt Sermon unleashes bestial, roaring death metal, Daeva ventures into frigid, icy black thrash, blending the old school with modern twists and a whole lot of guitar pyrotechnics.  The aesthetics, from the cavernous, echoey vocals to the spiderweb thin guitars and wild, noodly solos to the overtly Satanic lyrics and even the aforementioned album cover, explode the kind of righteous 80’s fun and 90’s ambience that is often missing from modern metal.  This is an album that takes pleasure in how ridiculously over-the-top it is, and that in my opinion is one of the hallmarks of good blackthrash.  

Any album that opens with an eerie, ominous intro pretty much automatically gets a seal of approval from me, but where Through Sheer Will really opens up is when the actual riffs kick in, because holy shit, these riffs are insane.  Not insane in the way that death metal riffs chug your brains out, but insane in the way that they burn through a veritable cacophony of atonal black metal, up and down the fretboard in a ludicrously small amount of time.  It almost feels inhuman how much sheer sound is packed into such a tight space, but somehow guitarist Steve Jansson not only does it, but makes it look easy.  There is so much happening, so much complexity in these riffs that while it hearkens back to the heyday of black metal and thrash, there truly is nothing else out there that sounds like this.  From the moment the intro riff to “The Architect and the Monument” kicks in, Through Sheer Will never lets up.  The pedal goes all the way to the floor and stays that way, from the wild abandon of “Passion Under the Hammer” to the outrageous guitar solo in “Loosen the Tongue of the Dead” to the epic closer “Luciferian Return”.  That is to say nothing of the classic thrashy bark of vocalist Edward Gonet, whose Satanic lyrics effortlessly straddle the line between super serious and goofy retro, or the way drummer Enrique Sagamaga’s effortless blasts keep the songs careening forward at breakneck speed.  Most importantly, though, is that this album is just a good time to listen to.  In the way that the best black metal and thrash metal is, Through Sheer Will celebrates the simple joy of letting loose and going absolute apeshit.

This is honestly the most purely evil sounding music that I have heard in a long time, and I mean this in the best way possible.  Blackthrash should be fast, furious and fun, and Through Sheer Will is exactly that and more.  For a formula as straightforward as blackthrash, this one has a lot of creativity in it that will surprise the oldheads, and a lot of hooks and raw aesthetics that will bring in new followers to the dark flock.

-Ian


Through Sheer Will and Black Magic… is out October 14 on 20 Buck Spin.  For more information on Daeva, visit their Facebook page.

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