By the Hands of the Devil
“In the eyes of history, one voice has stood defiant. Descendant of Sumerian blood, the dark lord, the Devil!!” shout the opening lyrics from the title track of By the Hands of the Devil. After twenty-four years away from the group, original vocalist Leviathan Thisiren (aka Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer) rejoined Satan’s Host in 2010, which spawned an album filled with the best evil and nasty heavy-metal ferocity released this year. The combination of black/thrash/death metal with a classic heavy metal-styled vocalist pushed Satan’s Host out of the realm of mediocrity and into the realm of pure awesome evil metal. Founding member and guitarist Patrick Evil can flat out shred. On “Demontia,” which goes from lullaby to rager, his guitar work starts at a slow dirge before building momentum. On “Black Hilted Knife” he starts with a meandering and intricate lead before moving into full blown thrashing. This track sounds like it could be a missing Mercyful Fate song—at times it’s lightning fast but it also features dreadful sounding slower guitars ocassionally peering in. The vocal range also covers all the bases—big falsettos, wicked snarls and growls are boisterously displayed on “Before the Flame.” Many of the record’s tracks go from lingering, looming viscosity to virulent intensity. The album is brilliantly produced. The guitar licks dig in your head like the sinful thoughts you’re supposed to forget. The maddening tempo changes in “Inferior Worlds” provide a perfect example of how Satan’s Host twists ominous music into punishing, headbanging ugliness. The guitar play changes from plain, heavy metal to black metal to thrash and whatever else the Devil beckons in the musicians of Satan’s Host. The variations throughout By the Hands of the Devil make listening a delight. If you happen to snag this record, make sure you get the version with the best damn Beatles cover song ever done by a metal band, ever: “Norwegian Wood,” complete with a lyrical re-interpretation.