Déha - Cruel Words | Review

Bearing in mind the image encapsulating this album, a slightly gothic looking skeletal (?) butterfly against a wintery tree backdrop, one could easily pass it by. Though the merest sliver of curiosity might remain. It was this modicum of interest which resulted in me hitting play. Dropping any preconceived notions, I mentally prepared for what was to follow.

"Cruel Words" commences on a post-rock note with "Mine to Break"; a cavalcade of dreamy high chords. However, if there's any track which begs to be ‘stuck with’, it's this one. The rhythm unhurriedly builds in pace accompanied by a passionate voice and an unhurried guitar. And then, abruptly, it's as if the sky falls. The passionate voice amps up in emotion and the aura is that of palpable frustration, anger, grief (draped in pitch black). In short, a fantastic opening which heightens the senses leaving one crushed though especially eager for more. I wasn’t prepared in the slightest.

The second track, "Pain is a Wasteland", smothers the still quivering psyche with a loving caress. Though there's an unmistakable menace lurking beneath the surface, a feeling that at any moment a storm will break the sun's warmth. It does, though not with the same fury the first track exhibited. This is more a slow-burn with a structure much like a nagging migraine which builds to staggering intensity. Fans of Neurosis (and the like) should have their interest perked at this juncture.

The album continues to batter the senses with the utilization (and excellent manipulation) of synth, piano, guitars and a voice overflowing with emotion and range, a combination resulting in an exquisite and definite delicate balance of calm, melancholy and the transition to its direct opposite; a heaviness, a dirge/sludge presence akin to trudging through molten lava.

Staggeringly the quality of this album remains extremely high throughout even though a few tracks dip into double digit lengths it somehow still manages to hold the listener in thrall. Standouts include the opener as well "Dead Butterflies". With a haunting aura which brings to mind Danny Boyle epics such as "Sunshine" and "28 Days Later" there's little doubt that Déha (it is at this point that I should mention this is the artists name, the genius solely responsible for this) could well place cinematic audiences on the edges of their seats if he had such the desire. The album also contains a cover; a re-envisioning of "Saturnine" by The Gathering. However, for the ultimate Déha (goosebump) experience the acoustic reprise of "Mine to Break" is a must listen.

In conclusion, if you've never heard of, or even seen, a Déha album, now is your chance. Understandably, one may have reservations upon audio bursting at the seams with synth attributes, post-rock and sludge sensibilities with an atmosphere as thick as heard here. Drop them and dive in! For the mastery contained herein is perilously close to a religious experience. (9.8/10) 


Band info: https://www.facebook.com/burningworldrecords
Label info: https://www.facebook.com/dehamusic