Solar Deity – Devil Worship
I was at a local gig in NYC recently, where I saw a two man black metal outfit, who played some stuff which wasn’t really exciting. And yet they were showered with lots of love and applause, mainly because they were both ex-members of relatively popular bands. I thought, there have to be better two man BM bands out there. Late at night when I got back home, I saw that Solar Deity had uploaded their new EP for free download. Timing.
I’m going to be a hipster-wannabe and say I’ve followed Solar Deity before its inception, when Aditya Mehta told me he’d be switching from Exhumation to a mainly one-man black metal project, and right from the first release, their evolution has been, quite frankly, (like this sentence with lots of commas), staggering. The first EP was more or less orthodox, but catchy and accessible without being overburdened by formulaic cliches. The second was a bit of a mixed bag, where I loved certain parts and felt some were not quite so ‘well-placed’, but was glad to loop several times nonetheless. Consequently, the release of the third part in this trilogy piqued my interest.
The album art in Devil Worship caught me off guard. It’s a lot more in-your-face rather than the subdued sketchy predecessors which just about vaguely hint at something ominous. So when I played ‘Raise the Horns’, I almost burst out laughing at the contrast between my expectations and what I heard. The lightning/thunder/rain effects took me back to Amrish Puri and Mr. India. But as soon as the guitar riffs kicked in, any misgivings I might have had regarding the sound were duly dispelled. My feet started doing the fake double bass, and by the time 8 minutes 46 seconds had elapsed, I was more than happy and drained. ‘Supreme Evil’ follows, which is a mid-paced chunky piece with some odd female moaning (pornogrind, anyone?) sounds – which thankfully don’t sound too out of place. This is a good example of a song which is a release in terms of tempo without compromising the intensity. Too many albums have been spoiled due to filler mid-paced tracks, but Devil Worship isn’t one.
The continuity with which things start off into ‘Through The Hallways of Narak’, the final track, make it one of the most organic transitions I’ve heard between consecutive songs in some time. The drum programming is almost convincing enough to have you believe there’s a real drummer behind the kit – better samples and perhaps more time fine tuning those aspects could’ve made it my idea of perfect orthodox BM drumming – but consider that a mere critical remark – the current overall effect is nowhere near jarring enough to affect the enjoyment of this 11 and a quarter minute epic which ties up the album in a thoroughly professional manner.
Mehta’s vocals are now near flawless, barring a few places where they trail off a little weaker than I would’ve liked. The fact that he handled the bass-playing duties in Exhumation seems to have had a fair bit of impact on the mix… the bass is pretty well represented and intense throughout – appreciable loud twanging at both ends of the spectrum cleverly complements the drums. Even though the tremolo picked riff-work is very Old School Norwegian Black Metal, the scales and the visual imagery they inspire within the listener is antipodal (right from the Mr. India bit. Kidding). The mix/mastering is quite good too – just the right raw edginess to accentuate the simple yet effective compositions and the unforgiving sound.
To sum it up, this is an excellent release for fans of black metal looking for an interesting exponentiation of the 90’s black metal sound, or kids looking to get into what is considered a relatively inaccessible sub-genre given the bands:fan ratio, in addition to being a good reminder that Indian metal, despite the glaring lack of activity, does not seem to be dead yet.
Rating – 9.0/10