Devil's debut EP, Magister Mundi Xum, a couple of weeks ago, and their unique name (how has that one never been taken yet?), their neat album artwork, and the reviews I've been reading about them (still scarce, I'm trying to do my part) all combined to make me bump this up on my listening schedule - plus I was in the mood for some killer doom. What I got was not something at all what I was expecting, I'd hesitate to call this release 'true doom,' 'traditional doom,' or whatever moniker you put on the less out-there sub-genres, even though this reminds me more or the origins of doom then any other recent release. It's just something unique and fresh, especially nowadays, where it seems like everything new with the genre has been accomplished.
Listening to the entire album, there is one truth about Magister Mundi Xum that you would come to realize; it has a gritty uneven edge to it that makes it stand out. The first real track (after the into bit), "At The Blacksmith," is the only song on the twenty-three minute disc that I would classify as a modern representation of doom. It's got decent production values, clean and clear vocals, and a seemingly by-the-book song progression, it's good but not the stand-out. The rest of the EP is a sold throwback to the beginnings of the genre - and no, I'm not talking Black Sabbath here - I mean it's something more along the lines of Witchfinder General and St. Vitus, back when the genre of doom was being settled upon.
It's got a kind of low-production value, where all of the sounds blend together a bit, that reminds me of the old analog recording equipment. In an era where acts try very hard to have every note perfect, on their albums, every riff exact, it's actually refreshing to hear of a group that purposely (one can hope) brings back the era of guys just jamming out to a crappy microphone. Of course maybe they were just a bunch of guys who were just jamming out to a crappy microphone, to save some cash (as a man who has now been a part of the recording end of music, I can appreciate this outlook), but that really doesn't matter. It ended up working great for them, and if on Devil's first full-length, they get rid of that soul of their music, I'll be greatly disappointed. It's what made them stand out to me, and if that style or whatever you call it goes away, it'd be a great shame. As they say, the Devil's in the details (see what I did there?).