|©2000 AvantGarde Music
1. Stabat Mater "Deviatika"
2. Purgazione Canonica
4. Reazione! (Autoapostolika Minzione)
5. Haunted By A Female Clangour (Angel From The Snow...)
6. I'll Teach You How To Be A Virgin!
7. Let Those Swallows Rape My Heart Away
8. Quando Non Ci Sara' Piu' Nulla... (That's The Sound Of My Tomb!)
Avantgarde is calling this album an opera. As much as I respect this Italian label and its gifted roster, Deviate Damaen's Propedeutika Ad Contritionem is not an opera. Nor is it any good. Imagine newer Ulver, with Garm singing in Italian, and with a fraction of the songwriting talent, and you have Deviate Damaen. Deviate Damaen are so arrogant, their Brobdingnagian egos make Dream Theater look like Mother Teresa by comparison. As in Ulver's case, grossly overinflated priggishness may be forgiven, provided the bands deliver a product worthy of their alleged genius. "Mastermind" Asmodeus G. Volgar and Co. fail to follow through on their promise in nearly all respects. Harsh, you say? Perhaps, but so are they for subjecting me to over seventy minutes of such filth.
Propedeutika… begins with a thirty-minute soundscape entitled "Stabat Mater 'Deviatika,'" a six-movement inquest on the consequences of sleep-inducing music. Commencing with the sounds of shattering glass, the first movement amounts to a woman moaning or mumbling over the voices of children and the elderly, among others. Though I presume they are trying to present a possession victim or a madwoman here, it ends up sounding like she lacks fiber in her diet and is now suffering the consequences in the bathroom stall. The various sounds become faster and more chaotic, finally collapsing into a section that resembles a tragic lyric opera, though the only tragedy here is the music itself. Other passages involve guitar lines, choirs, fiendish male voices, a "song-like" moment at approximately the twenty-third minute, and the complete breakdown into noise by track's end. That was a half-hour completely wasted. The album's biggest problem (thus far) is its reliance on "evil" and "nightmarish" sounding vocals and effects, both of which completely fail to produce the desired result. Maybe it's my own indifference towards evil music, but believe me, I've heard better atmosphere in B-rate black metal bands like Mayhem and Enthroned. Couple this with weak songwriting and you have an atrocity waiting to happen.
Believe it or not, there are seven more songs. "Purgazione Canonica" is an electro-wave ditty with a funky beat and vacillating quasi-operatic and distorted vocals (which sound like they were recorded in a swimming pool, incidentally). Nothing horrendous, though its length really bogs down the track. "S:S = Spirito:Santo" is more trance-like and repetitive, and yet once again, it pushes the frontiers of my tolerance by 9:00. On the other hand, "Haunted by a Female Clangour" is more bellicose, with aggressive male lines and crunching guitars that are not unlike Millennium-era FLA. Perhaps my favorite of the group, and that's not saying much. The next three songs are so unimpressive that I don't recall them at all, even after a dozen masochistically painful listens. The last track is nothing more than the dude speaking over a buzz, and is not worth more than one listen, ever.
I suppose these are mere afterthoughts, but the production on this album is quite good. Everything is clear as a crystal, not that it really matters. The lyrics are in mostly in Italian, the ones I can read treat anti-Christian and other troublesome subject matters, such as lust. Though the year is too young to determine any worthy Best of 2000 candidates, in regard to its contrary, one album is blazing away as the runaway favorite.
Review by Jeffrey Shyu
Review date: 01/2000