Dub is one of those styles of music that seems to lend itself to endless forms of experimentation by all sorts of musicians. From the avant-pop of Dubstar to the agit-rock crossover of Asian Dub Foundation (the clues are there!), everyone likes to put a bit of bass in your face. It’s such a physical form of music when played loud, as it should be, it’s hard not to react.
Devilman are a collection of London-based Japanese musicians, fronted by the mysterious Mr.D., with Shige (DJ Scotch Egg) on bass, live mixer Gorgonn and the unmistakable vocals of Taigen Kawabe (Bo Ningen). They play dub, but this ain’t reggae, and it sure ain’t avant-pop!
Before I dug into the bands biog I was pretty sure they were Japanese, as there’s the name, Devilman is a famous anime character, and those distinctive vocals. Bo Ningen are one of my favourite bands of the past few years, and it’s Kawabe‘s insane, babbling vocals that really make this album a standout for me. That’s not to say that the music is bland. Hell no! This is one of the most intense, heavy albums I’ve heard this year, and there’s not a lead guitar to be heard.
Opener ‘Bakan Q’ lays it all out – banging, fuzzy beats, the maniacal screams of Kawabe and then a HUGE bass and those big splashy dub drums. This is pretty much the template throughout the album. Although there are some tracks without vocals that sound like The Prodigy b-sides such as second track ‘Elephant Dub’, slower, industrial and with juddering beats which hark back to Aphex Twin‘s ‘Window Licker’. Then we have ’21Seiki Dub’, which is martial, triumphant, and suggests a victorious giant robot army on the march. It would make a killer soundtrack to a Transformers movie!
After the haunted house organ interlude of ‘Ross’ things start to get very hardcore indeed. ‘Noise Step’ speaks for itself and reminds me of the harsh beats Zan Lyons was making when he first emerged.
Taigen Kawabe then comes to the fore on the next two tracks, ’93’ and ‘Nirvana Dub’, they are the most obviously hardcore punk influenced tracks and are incredibly intense and super aggressive, but by now you will be so immersed in Devilman‘s sound that you will be begging them to bring the noise.
‘Tunnel Dub’ returns to the slower, industrial grind of ‘Elephant Dub’ before closing track ‘Last Black Emporer’ ups the ante in the noise stakes to the point where even those who loved the previous tunes may well be pleading for mercy. Hold your bleeding ears as ‘Last Black Emporer’ brings the sounds of an inferno in a sawmill, a dentist drill turned up to 11, and Satan’s tinnitus to your stereo. It has no beats. It laughs at melody. By this point it seems Devilman is telling us that tunes are for pussies. It’s one hell of a sign off.
It’s bizarre to say that this is a palate cleanser of a record, but if like me you most often listen to guitar based rock then that is what “Devilman” is. Well, it’s more like a palate burning by a blow torch, but you get the idea!
At times this record is awesome. If you like extreme music the I urge you to check it out.