DAEVA – Through Sheer Will and Black Magic… (2022)REVIEW

Utterly engulfed, shocked back to life by vein-coursing ritual of toxic black oxide imbibe and the scaly, electric touch of winged horrors a monstrous and daemonic work of pest stirs within my mind, lingering as if the immune system were recovering from incurable diabolically conjured hangover. In dizziness, and solely to relieve the mind of what insectoid horror buzzes within, all that can be reported of what Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based black death-thrash metal quartet Daeva have done on their debut full-length manifests in echoing haze, seizure’d acts of dark mayhemic violence and piercing reverberance, an act of unholy accost unto ill-natured spiritual defenestration. ‘Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…‘ howls with the presence of a black-winged and terrifying thing, a presence which is not impossible to know through ritualization but an act which demands its arrival on its own terms, wherein the devotee chokes on fuming and thrashing black shred ’til mystified, beguiled and cleansed of foul Christendom.

But hey, we were ready for it eh? These folks formed as a trio somewhere nearby ~2016-2017 between folks best known for their K/D ratio in Trenchrot, Crypt Sermon, and Infernal Stronghold, quickly cutting an impressive debut EP (‘Pulsing Dark Absorptions‘, 2017) and basically slapping a side-project sticker on it for a few years while their other projects went their own way. That EP didn’t go unnoticed but it definitely hit at a point where black/thrash metal quality was reasonably high on average and we were hitting peak glut by 2019 or so. It’d been notable on my end due to the mixture of ’95-’09 Absu with first wave black/speed metal simplicity included, hitting upon the mania of earlier Aura Noir without as much of the ‘Morbid Tales‘ riff progressions in mind. By 2018 the line-up jumped to a quartet and replaced the rhythm section with longtime Vektor bassist Frank Chin and Crypt Sermon/Ashencult drummer Enrique Sagarnaga. Time has allowed for their songcraft (well, riffcraft) to gain the necessary preened over and excitable flood of detail this style of music thrives within but don’t expect any sort of sea-change or wild stylistic departure from ‘Through Sheer Will and Black Magick…‘ they’re generally sticking to the guns they’d premiered back in 2017 and basically just amped the shit out of the speed and riffcount.

As much will be obvious enough for the keener ears out there but opener “The Architect and the Monument” appears directly inspired by the style of interwoven and maniac dynamic that Absu began to explore on ‘Tara‘, or, if you’re familiar with their 2011 album the structure of the song and its phrasing resembles “Earth Ripper” to a close degree. This is a good thing from my perspective and the perfect way to start their tour of the greater world of black/thrash metal, introducing their taste and sensibilities for this debut. Shades of early Destruction and the indomitable technical swing of ‘Aura Noire‘ quickly change gears as we step into “Arena at Dis” and step into the more patiently draining chasm of “Passion Under the Hammer”, notably crossing wires and grinding gears between the late 80’s menace of black and speed metal while clearly resembling the work of guitarists well aware of where modern black-thrash metal guitar evolved beyond. When the band does decide to slow down, drifting into an extended ambient wane nearby the end of “Passion Under the Hammer”, the overcharged and cavernous production values stick out a bit more. “Loosen the Tongue of the Dead” repeats this sort of surrealistic moment, leaning into their black metal taste a bit harder a la Nocturnal Witch but I’ll be honest I’d basically missed those breather moments on the first several listens, feeling the momentum of every listen right from the start.

Vocalist E.G. spends most of the album buried by about twenty layers of reverb, siphoned at least fifty feet in the distance but there are a few moments where the scold of the beast pulls up to the listener’s nape, “Fragmenting in Ritual Splendour” is the piece to showcase his range of expression a bit more an almost ‘Blizzard Beasts’-esque choke up on the best parts of the song. It is probably he best song on the record in terms of sheer attack and imposing, kinda psychedelic drifted-out presence and the late 80’s German thrashed outro to the song is a righteous, perfectly heavy metal way to pull out of the action. From there we’ve got a bit more of their classic black/speed metal side on “Polluting the Sanctuary” and at that point in the tracklist they’ve managed to replicate the excitement of Side A firing up and keep the momentum whipping deep into Side B, the flow of it all works anyhow. While I’d normally not trust the average black-thrash metal band to pull off a seven minute album closer (sure, maybe Witching Hour) but Daeva still have about ten more riffs up their sleeves, maybe more, as they tear through “Luciferian Return” and find a way outta the vortex they’ve created.

A full ride through ‘Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…‘ hits the gas pedal on my brain well enough, entertaining and even exciting in motion as they attack these songs with some real conviction and detail punched into ’em. After several listens it became clear the ten minute pocket that tracks four and five create is the least memorable and energized part of the album but also a necessary easing into something a bit more their own, I think they could use that time more wisely with pieces that push into their more barbaric inclinations (ah via mid-90’s Nifelheim, Desaster records). That said it’d been an easy to grab and rip through kinda record for me with very few barriers to a repeat listen. It is likewise worth a mention that the Karmazid painting that graces the cover is one for the ages, extra appropriate for the material within and a kaleidoscopic horror for the eyes to pick through while the music terrorizes alongside. Daeva‘s debut might take a few listens to catch on but, only on account of it rushing-out nutso fast to fully catch heads on fire off the bat and this’d ultimately lend well to shelf life per my own habits. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…
LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin
RELEASE DATE:October 14th, 2022

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