Sarah Jezebel Deva: Malediction

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Sarah Jezebel Deva: Malediction
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Sarah Jezebel Deva: Malediction
Symphonic Gothic Metal
Listenable Records
May 28th, 2012
Release length: 12:59
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Sarah Jezebel Deva is back after two well received solo albums since departing from Cradle of Filth. 2010’s A Sign of Sublime and the following 2011 The Corruption of Mercy cast the singer in the shadows of the Metal underground with moderately impressive releases that put her vocal talents to the forefront against music that often wasn’t as great. For 2012, she follows those previous full-length recordings with Malediction, a three song EP of newly recorded songs with guest singers involved. But, does this release best accentuate her beautiful and haunting vocal talents, or does this end up being cast to the wayside of obscurity once more?

Similar to many other Gothic Metal acts, Malediction finds a crisp audio quality, and perhaps a bit too sleek for what the group is going for half the time. The keyboards sound great and feed into the Symphonic elements of the sound well, but often in quite a subtle manner. The guitars have an alright distortion that adds a bit of a sharp strike to the music, while the bass grounds them out with a somewhat deeper tone that is loud enough to make a nice impact when the music picks up, but ends up nothing more than just support to the slower sections. The drumming is pretty good as well, having some crisp snares that aren’t too far back in the mix, while the bass kicks have a nice click that is best during the heavier passages, and the snares carry a nice rich and tight sound, easily one of the best parts of the music aside the vocals that come through as clearly as the keyboards.

As mentioned, the faster material here is often the best. “When it Catches Up With You” is easily the most memorable song off this recording. It explodes right in with faster bass kicks and guitars that work well with the atmospheric and often beautiful keyboards. This gives it a bit of an Operatic tone until the moving chorus kicks in with simpler chords and an overall infectious performance that really captures the Symphonic potential that the band does have, making you bang your head along to the heavier material on display. Sadly, this does try to repeat during “This is My Curse,” but unfortunately it has plenty of faults to hold it back, largely in the volume levels.

“This is My Curse” really does try to capture a Cradle of Filth atmosphere, and in many ways it has the hostility and darker Gothic moments to it, but the crisp audio quality and not-too-rich material doesn’t help things along. Dani Filth’s vocal contributions are great, though when he chimes in, it seems as though Sarah reverts to her backing vocalist ways, no longer being her solo offering. It also finds the music a lot emptier, largely focusing on the snares that really take over the song and make it hard to listen to, even though it actually is a decent performance with some melancholic melodic riffs that harken back to his band’s earlier Black Metal influenced compositions. It’s clear they are trying to create an epic offering, but the audio quality simply doesn’t allow it. But, then you also have “Lies Define Us” with Bjorn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork chiming in. This is a mid-tempo song that starts off promising with some heavier riffs and great keyboard work, but it slowly slips into more of a simpler Folk Metal offering that even has the lighter, more Alternative meets Melodic Death Metal style of modern Soilwork. It isn’t bad, but the additional echoes on Sarah’s voice are just not necessary, and the somewhat larger guitar chords feel out of place from the teasing that the introduction establishes. As far as the duet-styled vocals go, it’s good, but Bjorn really just drowns her out horribly, placing her in the same situation as she was in with Dani on “This is My Curse,” not to mention they don’t quite mesh together too well in the first place.

Unfortunately, what exists here is varying levels of potential. “When it Catches Up With You” is by far the best song on here, and perhaps one of the best in Sarah Jezebel Deva‘s solo career. However, the other two just are not her, and actually seem to try and encompass the others bands the guest members are from, while setting her growth as a female artist back quite a bit to the days of nothing more than a backup vocalist, but with a higher billing at this time. Sadly, it just doesn’t work out. Neither of these are horrible or unlistenable, but it puts the band in some of the most mediocre spots possible. Malediction does show the potential that Sarah Jezebel Deva has, and “When it Catches Up With You” will stick in your head with it’s beautiful and haunting performance for a long time to come. But, overall, this EP really isn’t worth running out to buy, but at least sampling it, or picking that song up specifically from an on-line store is something that fans of her work simply need to do.

01. Lies Define Us (ft. Bjorn Strid) – 3:58
02. When it Catches Up With You – 4:27
03. This is My Curse (ft. Dani Filth) – 4:35
Overall Score: 5.5/10
Sarah Jezebel Deva (Band)
Physical review copy of this release provided by Listenable Records via Clawhammer PR.