DEVAR – Alternate Endings
Label: code666
Release: September 29 2009
By: Bulletrider
Rating: 8.5/10
Time: 49:06
Style: 50’s Black Metal
URL: Devar

50’s Black Metal - what's that? This being my first reaction when reading the info sheet of Alternate Endings, the debut album by the Norwegian band DEVAR. Who, like I myself, now puts Fifties equal to Rock'n’Roll and as such thinks that DEVAR will be just another thrashing Black'n’Roll band couldn't be more wrong. Alternate Endings is both playful yet to some point catchy Dark-Avant-garde Metal album, now and then supported by Black Metal quotes.
Alternate Endings is mainly an album full of together blended contrasts. But this description fitting only vague and not really hitting the point.
For one thing you get the mentioned blending of Black Metal with ingredients from many other genres, which often are noticed during the complete song and not directly from the start. Sometimes in the form of murky and blurred Blues or Rock song structures played more or less a bit in the background by the rhythm section and which later are adopted or even taken further by the other instruments, partly in acoustic, partly in electric ways and as such now and then adding a form of jazzy feel.
DEVAR also add slightly string and synths parts to their music. These being of a more minimalist nature, used more in a decent way in the background and at no point even scratching a form of overloaded Black Metal bombast.
More of these contrasts are also to be found in the guitar work often coming along in a very clashing Nordic Black Metal way, which is often metaphorically described as "icy" and "pitchblack", but here has a strange warm and gloomy sound. This sound is further supported by a close pressing and not too crystal clear production.
Another unusual aspect in DEVAR's sound is the way the vocals are presented here. They are not easy to describe. Think of Jonas Renske sounding more raw and throaty due to excessive means of brooding anger and desperation. These vocals are often used in a multiplied layered way, creating a form of throaty sing-a-longs, both in some parts of the songs getting supported by a further layer of menacing Black Metal screams.
It should be clear by now that DEVAR are a highly creative band and that Alternate Endings is drenched in Avant-gardism. But despite this vanguard approach DEVAR manage the trick to put out a lot of earworms full of catchiness, blessed by some really fantastic choruses you just can't get out of your head. Ok, with Scourger and Watch Them Fly you also get some more or less bulky songs but the brilliance of godly killer tracks like Cold Slither and Shadow Feline as well as H.M.H, Black 6 and the eerie In Sanity clearly prevails.
Overall DEVAR just have to be heard as their sound fits no real description. Maybe "Arcturus without bombast", "comfortable Ved Buens Ende", "angry Katatonia", "sad Danzig" or "Ulver between Heaven & Hell and Perdition City" come a bit close to it but in the way they merge everything together, DEVAR sound pretty unique.
If all songs would be on the same level as the mentioned smashers - the highest rating would be for sure. But even despite two or three mediocre songs Alternate Endings is a remarkably stunning debut album and hopefully giving DEVAR a chance to reach the metal world!