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Devoid - Lonely Eye Movement Award winner

Devoid
Lonely Eye Movement
by Chris Hicklin at 10 January 2022, 1:12 PM

Following up 2017’s “Cup of Tears”, French Progressive/Melodic Metal act DEVOID have returned with their sophomore effort “Lonely Eye Movement”. Blending Progressive Metal influences with the huge synth led sounds you might hear from a Power Metal band like BEAST IN BLACK, DEVOID keep their lyrics more stubbornly rooted in the real world, dealing with issues such as depression and anxiety. There’s also a big slice of Traditional Metal on offer, and many nods to the balladeering style of the Coverdale school of good old fashioned Hard Rock.

Despite the various labels I have dutifully applied to the band, it is clear from the very first track that this is not a band that is going to let you neatly file them away into a genre. Opening with some very retro synths and poppy beats backing a revolving guitar riff with some dainty piano overlaid title track “Lonely Eye Movement” glides effortlessly from fanciful verses to deadly serious grinding heavily riffed choruses. Broken up by a brilliantly performed piano and bass duet for a bridge, the song is consistently surprising from moment to moment and represents a highly ambitious piece of song writing to kick off an album, leaving one with significant expectations for what is to come.

Man Without Fear” and “Imposter” are a little less dynamic in the writing, sticking to more traditional forms, but both give Carsten Schulz great opportunities to demonstrate his vocal abilities, his voice is gravelly, but powerful and dead-on key. The former lets Jorris Guilbaud flex his keyboard solo skills, providing a solo full of pre-bends and nimble key dancing that could easily be mistaken for a guitar solo, while the latter is a great vehicle for the pounding and ultra-precise rhythm section of drummer and bassist Benjamin Lesous and Geoffrey Neau to provide a hyperactive workout for guitarists Gwen Kerjan and Shad Mae’s ecstatic dual guitar soloing.

Destination Heaven” despite the ethereal introduction is one of the more driving tracks on the LP and features some interesting choral arrangements, nice sparkly guitar breaks and more shamelessly rapturous soloing, but special mention really has to go to the following song “Waiting for the Storm”. This six-and-a-half-minute epic opens with a synth piece that sounds like the soundtrack to an 80s video game, they are going for the same vibe as something like the Stranger Things soundtrack and doing it just as well as the big Hollywood composers. From here the track opens into ballad-like choruses with a shimmering WHITESNAKE feel while punchy, grooving hard rock choruses provide juxtaposition, but nothing prepares you for the VANGELIS-esque synth-soaked saxophone bridge or the monstrously good guitar solo that follows it. This track is enormous, both in sound and scope, the high point of the album.

In the Absence of Holiness” falls into a much darker place with a downbeat sludgy riff on the verses and a powerful chorus with a great vocal performance, while “Mirror Maze” momentarily seems like it might break into an ORBITAL style trance but quickly corrects course into a fist pumping Hard Rocker elevated by some rhythmic keyboard work and a melodic middle eight that will have you singing to the skies.

There’s a couple of grooving and foot tapping, but less involved pieces leading the way to the penultimate track “Martial Hearts”. With a classic drawn-out drum fill-filled intro, it’s not too long before the track gets to the sharp end, a compelling blend of progressive keyboards and tight drum and bass work with precise riffing on the verses sit comfortably next to soaring choruses and extensive instrumental breaks where every member is working in perfect unison. Benjamin Lesous’s drumming should be singled out here as it is particularly expressive and nuanced.

Finally, Carsten Schulz’s overworked vocal chords are given a much deserved rest on the bizarre Jazz and Easy Listening influenced finale “Wood and Wind” which at times sounds like the theme tune to an American family sit-com, occasionally as though James Taylor is thumbing his guitar at us, but mostly as though Mason Williams has come out of retirement to regale us with his signature blend of Neo-Baroque a la “Classical Gas.” Thoroughly bizarre and totally brilliant.
This album is superbly produced throughout and the breadth and depth of song writing, and genre blending performances is highly impressive. Prepare to give this much more than a single listen if you plan to fully absorb it, while the songs are all fine fare to simply put on at a party and rock out to, there is a far more rewarding experience here should you choose to accept the mission.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lonely Eye Movement
2. Man Without Fear
3. Impostor
4. Destination Heaven
5. Waiting for The Storm
6. In the Absence of Holiness
7. Mirror Maze
8. Hands of Salvation
9. Stroboscope Life
10. Martial Hearts
11. Wood and Wind
Lineup:
Carsten Schulz - Vocals
Gwen Kerjan - Guitar
Shad Mae - Guitar
Jorris Guilbaud - Keyboards
Geoffrey Neau - Bass
Benjamin Lesous - Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music SRL
     


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