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Deveikuth : 0.Ø

Tighter and more evolved, but still firmly enforcing Deveikuth's "Funeral Noise. Not Music." manifesto.

I discovered Deveikuth last year, when they released 'VII-π-III'. Not that they needed me to discover them, in all fairness: they already knew exactly where they were, having fairly stubbornly set themselves on a path somewhat tangential to most musical taste a few years earlier, and continued to plough a notably extreme furrow along it, indifferent - it would seem - to whether anyone would actually like the results.

Anyone who finds that level of dedication to a particular vision commendable - as I must confess, I do - will be pleased to learn that 2016's offering '0.Ø' has made precisely no effort at all to compromise the band's "Funeral Noise. Not Music." manifesto. All it's done, in cooperation with illustrator and graphic artist Seth Goodkind (SG Website), is present it in a slightly different package. Still a self-release, the digipack comes with a booklet containing the album lyrics and a four-page comic reflecting them - in style reminiscent of some of the 'John Constantine, Hellraiser' series - by illustrating the horrors within the protagonist's mind.

Considerably briefer than the last offering, '0.Ø' clocks in at a discreet and manageable 35 minutes and change, revealing not exactly a change of direction, but certainly a tightening-up on the use of simple sprawling vastness to draw the listener into the compositions. Without that comparatively easy recourse to hypnotic repetition and massive length, there has, inevitably, been some rethinking of the best approach - and the answer would appear to be that if it's going to be shorter, it needs to be more abruptly demented! Hence, without wasting any time on a slow lead-in or buildup, opening track '0' announces its presence with a tortured scream and immediately proceeds to unleash a crunching battery of drums, bass and guitar, seasoned with squeals of protest wrung out of a hapless keyboard. Which is where it stays, more or less, apart from a middle section that includes additional eerie laughter, cries and other vocal effects.

If you've heard Deveikuth before, or other purveyors of ultra-extreme Drone/Funeral Doom (such as Monarch or Khanate), '0' will be quite familiar ground. Harrowing, bludgeoning, uncomfortable listening that shares little kinship with normal musical aesthetics: there are words in there, somewhere, but the voice delivering them is such a dehumanised howling that they are indistinguishable noise against a backdrop of downtuned, over-amplified and distorted instrumentation that is itself as much noise as it is music. Designed to pulverise and overwhelm the senses, it does just exactly that.

For a bit of variety, the short and sweet six minutes of '.' arcs away from this blueprint to venture into a sort of Industrial hinterland, one that even flirts with something like a tune, or at least a semi-consistent rhythm - imagine someone like Faust tackling the most gruelling moments of Akira Yamaoka's 'Silent Hill' soundtracks, or perhaps simply add a metallic sheen to any track by Begräbnis, for an idea how that might work out. It's a theme that continues into the closer 'Ø', though with more of a Can rather than Faust vibe, thanks to the complex and surprisingly clean sound developing around a dancing, echoey bass-line. In true schizoid fashion, though, that small island of genuine melody is a short sucker-punch before the walls of sound close in again - though they do, eventually, relent and lead out with a simple and haunting piano theme.

So, '0.Ø' is a fair bit different, whilst still being a lot the same: the softer moments are not the first time the band have shown they can use contrast to make the black of their sonic palette seem even darker. Nonetheless, they do, perhaps hint at the main issue with any trajectory that starts and ends at the far extremes: it's exponentially more difficult to stay there without simply becoming repetitive, serving up near-identical slabs of sound each time around. But there's enough change and variety in this release to demonstrate Deveikuth not only haven't yet hit those immovable rocks at the end of their particular furrow, but are continuing to refine and improve their ploughing technique.

By no means recommended for the majority of listeners, but if you are of the persuasion that appreciates challenging, painful and unrelentingly torturous aural noise sculpture, this French trio remain solidly amongst the best of practitioners - and '0.Ø' is, in my opinion, their tightest and best example of it thus far.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. 0
2. .
3. Ø

Duration : Approx. 35 minutes

Visit the Deveikuth bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-05-01 by Mike Liassides
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