Devil Doll


The Girl Who Was...Death

Devil Doll - The Girl Who Was...Death ©1989 Hurdy Gurdy Records
1. The Girl Who Was...Death

Devil Doll is an interesting concept. Esentially the brainchild of one man - enigmatically known as Mr. Doctor - with enlisted help from various guest musicians, the band's output must be heard to really be understood. The most convenient pigeonhole into which to cram Devil Doll is rock opera, but when you get down to brass tacks, they're not really rock opera at all.

The Girl Who Was...Death is Mr. Doctor's first public release (legend has it he recorded another album before this, but only pressed one copy for himself), and the most rock-based of all his releases. Beginning a trend that continues through his later works, the disc is comprised of only one track (66:06 long...cute), which demands the listener sit all the way through. This is not the only feature that makes The Girl Who Was...Death a difficult work; the vocals are definitely an acquired taste, although more normal here than on any other Devil Doll effort. The music itself, executed well by hired guns, is quite engaging, despite the fact it straddles many ideas with occasional gracelessness. Rock and classical are the two dominant genres on this disc, with a little vaudeville thrown into the mix.

With such varied styles combined well overall, this release's strongest point is the mood it creates. Adding to this are the lyrics, which are strange and, in this case, based on the cult British television show "The Prisoner". They mesh well with the background music, and are always delivered in an appropriate voice. Often hard to track down - Devil Doll hails from Slovenia, and is signed to the obscure Hurdy Gurdy Records - this band's efforts are worth one's efforts in finding. Sound samples are definitely a good idea beforehand, unless one is particularly adventurous, because this music is very left of centre and cannot possibly have universal appeal. Those who do enjoy it, though, are quite fortunate to be privy to such neat stuff.

Review by C. LeRoux

Review date: 07/2001

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Eliogabalus

Devil Doll - Eliogabalus ©1990 Hurdy Gurdy Records
1. Mr. Doctor
2. Eliogabalus

Somewhat of an abberation in its track indexing - two "short" twenty minute pieces instead of a single forty-five minute one - Eliogabalus garners the dubious distinction of being my least favourite Devil Doll release. This is not to say it's bad, only that most of its duration is spent touching on, but not really exploring, good ideas. The main problem with this is that whenever I listen to this album, I find myself wanting to play either of the more fully realized Sacrilegium or Dies Irae instead.

All that aside, this release has its fair share of interesting moments, some of which are among my favourite Devil Doll sections overall. Discernible in the music is the subtle movement away from rock, and toward the bombastic weirdness for which Devil Doll's later albums are famous (if the term "famous" applies). Though the musicianship and production are superlative, and no less is ever accomplished by the supporting cast on any release, Mr. Doctor's vocals become a bigger sticking point on the way to enjoying this disc than they were for The Girl Who Was..Death. Apparently having decided that his somewhat odd singing voice wasn't wholly appropriate to his new music (and he was right, for what it's worth), our favourite madman discards it, for the most part, in favour of altogether affecting dramatic recitations. They frightened my kid sister and all but one of the people I've tried to introduce to the band's music, to the point of distaste. As usual, his lyrics are eccentric, to put it mildly, but that should come as no surprise.

Again, Devil Doll must be experienced firsthand to be believed - and while this isn't terribly helpful to the curious, it's the absolute truth. Those who enjoy the first album will enjoy this, as it is a completely natural progression, but those who are acquainted with the later output will most likely find Eliogabalus at least somewhat tepid when compared with the sheer excellence of what comes next.

Review by C. LeRoux

Review date: 07/2001

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