I can’t rightly claim that Budapest’s Devil Seed took their name from the Candlemass song of the same name, but their self-titled debut is certainly executed in a similar spirit. The group’s epic doom style is orthodox but not too old school, boasting dark moods that aren’t afraid to intermingle with more abstract textures. It’s grandiose but grounded in a way that reminds me more of Death Magic Doom than Nightfall with gruff alto vocals that play like a female version of Mats Leven or Robert Lowe.
Coming off the apocalyptic intro, the album quickly establishes songwriting that is dominated by eight to nine-minute tracks with plodding tempos and impactful riffs. “Doomsday Riders” might be the strongest track of the lot thanks to its heavy guitar focus and choral layering though the more pronounced keyboards on “Firecult” are arguably even more climactic. The heavy emphasis on slowness can admittedly get repetitive at times, but thankfully tracks like the groovy “Plague Rose” and the more symphonic “Dead Well” help break things up.
With these elements at play, the musicianship suits the material well, but there’s a subtle yearning for more firepower. The guitar tone is full and appropriately bombastic, but a thicker crunch would give the slowness some extra oomph. The drums are solid but would’ve benefitted from harder hits or more intricate patterns. Fortunately, the keyboards excellently play into the ceremonial aesthetic, and the vocals are well performed, even if Stragessa isn’t exactly a powerhouse.
Overall, Devil Seed’s debut album is a strong first impression. The band’s strong eye for atmosphere and solid writing already puts them above most of their peers in the epic doom scene, but I can imagine a more energetic approach pushing them even further in establishing themselves for the long run. Those familiar with groups like Fvneral Fvkk and Smoulder should get something out of it, and I can see this greatly appealing to fans of Candlemass, The Doomsday Kingdom, and Leif Edling’s other assorted endeavors.