In 2010 the Italian band Deva greatly presented themselves to the international music scene with the debut Between Life And Dreams (see review). In my review I said that they were mostly influenced by gothic metal bands as Within Temptation, Nightwish, Epica, Evanescence and the prog metal style of Dream Theater. In my opinion the musical blend of opera, classical music and elements from gothic, metal and prog worked very well. I loved it very much and I hoped that they would grow even further on the next albums. I ended my review by stating that Deva are certainly capable of writing more great music.
Early in 2014 they released their second album called Murther and now, after four years, I can finally discover whether they've grown music wise or not. Well, after listening to these fifteen new compositions with a playing time of almost 63 minutes, I was just speechless. The music Deva present on this second effort is something I could only dream about! Words hardly could express the way I felt after just one single listen session. What would happen if I kept playing Murther on and on? Well, I did and I can only conclude that Deva made giant steps forward right into the premier league of professional prog bands!
I thought this musical growth must be the result of hard working together as a band and giving many concerts. However, while reading the press statements this seemed not to be the case at all. Deva disbanded for several reasons and only two of the five original band members continued under the name of Deva. One of them is the classically trained soprano singer Beatrice Palumbo. On the new album she plays the Baroque violin as well. The other one is guitarist and vocalist Frederico Salerno, who also plays some of the bass and keyboard parts. Together they wrote the concept story and the fifteen new compositions for Murther. According to Mr. Salerno this CD is about a woman named Elizabeth, who's inspired by the goddess Lilith, who killed her baby. Elizabeth knows that she'll be saved by the goddess, but she is persecuted, imprisoned and sentenced to death at the stake. The story doesn't reveal if she obtains what she asks for − to be taken by Lilith − or if she dies at the stake. Palumbo and Salerno took the time to complete this concept which can certainly be heard since the album sounds mature, professional and very well recorded and produced.
The fifteen tracks sound transparent and crystal clear, through which the songs have an even stronger impact, but maybe this is also due to the fact that several important guest musicians played on the album. Keyboard player Davide Barbieri, drummer Federico Paulovich, and bass players Ruggero Accardo and Tony Corizia had a major role on Murther. They made sure that next to the fabulous guitar and vocal parts the keyboards and rhythms were all in perfect harmony and well-played. The use of a real choir and an orchestra were very important for the album as well. By doing so, the classical influences can be heard throughout.
After listening to the opening track Can I Be Saved, I thought that the music on Murther would become heavy guitar orientated music. I loved this song immediately with its strong guitar and vocal parts, but after I had listened to the entire CD, I realized that this wasn't the case at all, although a band like Threshold crossed my mind while listening to this piece. However, variety is the word that applies to Murther. Sometimes I heard splendid guitar passages well-mixed with the classical sounding choir and orchestra. Listen for instance to Come To Me and you'll know what I mean. At other times there are some speedy parts with a heavy guitar and drums which can be heard on tracks like Lady Of Time and Confession or they return to a mellower and more relaxed approach on songs like Is This What We Really Are, Decadence, Awareness Suddenly and What Have I Become. So on Murther the up-tempo pieces and mellow tracks are well-balanced. Moreover, the excellent singers provide this album more than enough variety.
All the above-mentioned qualities and my observation that I couldn't find any weak compositions or even weak parts made me decide to give Murther the highest possible score of five stars. In my humble opinion Beatrice Palumbo and Frederico Salerno created a masterpiece in the genre of progressive gothic metal. Prog heads who like the music of Lacuna Coil and all the above-mentioned bands should check out one of the first musical highlights of 2014!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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