Devil Say Dance

Foof Records, 2015


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The name of this obscure novice UK band, Devil Say Dance, is uncannily similar to the more established veteran Australian act, Dead Can Dance. This might or might not be a coincidence, because there are certain striking similarities between the two. For instance, both bands are comprised of a male-female duo at the core. More importantly, however, is the musical style, and the sense of gothic gloominess that is tattooed in the DNAs of both bands. But while the music of Dead Can Dance is inspired by the medieval past, Devil Say Dance’s influences are more from present time.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band’s debut Embers derives its sound from all acts in rock music’s recent past that have a moody tinge: from Tool to Tamaryn, Smashing Pumpkins to Slowdive. This album is gloomy, but never suffocating. The duo (now a trio, with founding members Alice Elizabeth Taylor and Matt Williams accompanied by Wrenford Hoof) incorporates plenty of psychedelic Pink Floyd-esque elements in its music, which makes the gloom dreamier rather than suffocating.

The group was signed to a pretty recently formed record label as one of its first acts. Devil Say Dance is a band that’s just getting started, with only a couple of EPs under their belt before this full-length release. Comparing Embers with the prior EPs Underwater Breathing and Madmen, one can see a tremendous maturation in the band’s sound. At the same time, there is also a sense of ambitiousness in the complex arrangements of the songs on this release. Judging by the album’s scale and pomposity, it seems like the band is attempting to create some sort of an epic musical saga, like its own version of The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Embers is no doubt a fantastic album. But the production and mixing are not at the same level of sophistication as the musical ideas that are being expressed here. Nevertheless, this is a pretty solid effort; and even if the band were to somehow strike it big in the future and eventually release more tightly produced work, Embers would still be a landmark debut.

Rating: A-

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