Dies Irae

(Hurdy Gurdy - 1996)

Enter the Slovenian Philarmonic Orchestra, and with it, a full realisation of Mr Doctor's capabilities and vision. This was simply meant to be. Most newcomers to orchestrations understandably balk at the huge array of instruments and options available in an orchestra and merely abuse this power as a single backing instrument, with some separation into the string section (and the ever popular use of tremolo), and at times, the brass section. Rock composers don't realise that they can separate individual instruments or sub-groups of sound for a much richer experience, have the oboe play the theme alone for a mystical moment, have the French horn play a lament in the background, and so on. Mr Doctor does the same here, but this critique does not apply to him simply because he already has his own array of solo instruments that enrichens the sound: The violin, a beautifully played cello, the guitars which feature a strong comeback here, the pipe-organ and choir, a new double-bass and of course, the ubiquitous piano. All this is blended amazingly well in a somewhat lesser schizophrenic smorgasbord of styles this time around. The bewildering Devil Doll signature is there however, in a more bombastic, powerful and dark sound that will appeal to metal fans. Beware of Mr Doctor's notorious vocals that reprise their jarring role of the debut again with extreme schizophrenia and quickly changing, highly eccentric voices. He seems to want to color each word or predicate of the lyrics in different tones. And as if he got tired of his 'Thousand Voices', he draughts a female soprano to reinforce the vocal repertoire and attempts to inflict on her some of the same dementia (just listen to her glissandos to see what I mean). Compared to Sacrilegium, this is a safer and more consistent release in terms of sound and style (that's not saying much), but on the other hand, it is somehow less coherent as well and harder to listen to from start to finish. This together with the very annoying vocals makes me turn to previous releases instead, despite the rich sound. For the first time, the 46 minute composition has been cut up into tracks on the CD for user friendly purposes (one stand out is track 10 that sounds like Elend in its non-musical postcards from hell). The vocals make me wish at times that they would release a purely instrumental work but then it wouldn't be Devil Doll would it? Recommended to the adventurous only. However, be warned that it doesn't grow on you as well as the previous recommended releases.

Zev Toledano