Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gut Feeling: Deveykus - Pillar Without Mercy

Deveykus – Pillar Without Mercy
Tzadik, 2013
Though the first words you’ll see if you Google Deveykus are “Hasidic Doom Metal,” don’t get the impression that this band is a gimmick. I’ve spent the last six months or so slowly easing my feet into the waters of metal and Deveykus has been a fun little detour from the path of darkness. Before you get the impression that this is real metally metal, I should note that Pillar Without Mercy has as much in common with avant-garde jazz as it does metal. Instead of having some longhaired dude in corpse paint barking guttural declarations of the antichrist into a microphone, Deveykus let the trombone do the singing. This is basically the album where every trombonist in every high school marching band should be raising his or her fists in triumph because finally, someone has made an album that showcases the awesome power of the instrument. The melodies that blare over the huge, gloomy guitars in traditional Hasidic wordless melodies meant to be sung repeatedly until spiritual transcendence is reached. The potential for gimmickry is on the page but Pillar of Mercy annihilates that with the very first horn blast on the aptly titled opening track “Wordless Ecstasy.” The album is hypnotic, beautiful, and feels like a genuine exploration of culture without any of the hokey drawbacks oft found on albums that strive to combine the elements of modern music with the sounds of exotic countries, religions, or tribal rituals. Pillar Without Mercy works because it kicks ass. Just straight up kicks ass. It’s a whole lot of fun, wholly mesmerizing and while vast stretches of the songs are built on the repetitions of the wordless melodies, this album never gets boring. It often feels as if the tracks are expressing both violence and transcendence at once, and there is something incredibly satisfying about the pairing of dissonant, bludgeoning guitars paired with these ancient sounding melodies. It’s music from an alien world that is somehow, by some miracle, rooted in a pocket of humanity that exists on the planet Earth (note: on the topic of Earth, the band Earth is an obvious spiritual forefather of Deveykus methodical metal). Though Pillar Without Mercy’s nearly hour long run time is absolutely exhausting, it provides the good sort of exhaustion of having experienced something truly original.

"Contraction of Infinite Light"

Pillar of Mercy live in all of its intense glory

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