After three albums chronicling the concept and adolescence of The
Murder City Devils as a band, the release of their newest, Thelema,
signals their radiant and assured maturation.
A departure of sorts, Thelema finds the six-piece exploring musical
terrain that is as informed by the obstacles of their past as it is by
an ambitious quest for the unconquered. It's a sound that can't be
compared to the influences constantly referenced in early reviews of
the band. Having served their purpose, those influences and markers
have crumbled away and with Thelema The Murder City Devils have honed a
vitality and style entirely their own, one that is elastic in
structure, profound in its lyrical content, and melodic-yes, melodic-in
The album is big and full-sounding, despite its short running time, and
the band members constantly reel out surprising musical twists. At
times, as on album opener "That's What You Get," guitars barrel
alongside Leslie Hardy's distinctive keyboards, matching each step,
before taking an alternate, route to the explosive finish. In more
subdued moments, as on the gorgeous, string-laden "364 Days," vocalist
Spencer Moody comes awfully close to ballad-like sentiment with a song
that heaves and spills with nostalgic longing and bitter truth. But
fans of The Murder City Devils know from experience that the singer's
dark take on anything remotely emotional ensures the listener is about
to embark on a soul-shaking ride. The band's trademark turbulence and
bluster is still very much in evidence, as are the biting, unflinching
lyrics. But this is a Devils album that inspires renewed devotion with
its personal and validated tone.
Thelema clearly represents The Murder City Devils as a band that has no
interest in sticking within any confines, be they dictated by genre,
influences, or even their fans. The album is a resplendent
accomplishment, and the bright announcement of an exciting future.
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