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  • Writer's pictureSpyros Psarras

Album Review: Year of the Tyrant | White Devil

As I’m about to get into the latest White Devil album 'Year of the Tyrant', inspired by the torturous year 2020, I’m giving a close look to the Fever Ray-ish logo of the artist which is preparing me for something edgy and unconventional. But let’s get right into it.

‘BLS’ starts playing hastily with a super-fast beat, and I’m acclimatized before I even take a breath. This is a Freestyler-type, breakbeat track. I travel back to my teen years, 1999, when Bomfunk MC's were a bomb exploding in every single party. There is no singing or melody though, but hurried, sampled vocals and climaxes. Some female vocals brought Sophie to mind (RIP) and her experimentation in 'Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides'. ‘BLS’ is one disarming track for an opening.

As soon as ‘Intubation’ comes in, we are transferred to a mystery novel, a modern Film Noir. The beat comes in the same style as before but more down to earth. Crime-Jazz is in the air with random dialogue from the media, talking about the pandemic of 2020. This is a whole mood, a possible soundtrack for a movie and a completely different experience of music than what we’re used to.

And then ‘Let it Drip’ arrives as a shocker, with samples of reporters and media talking about ‘golden showers’. In case you’re not familiar with the term, google-search it but be ready. And here I bow to the work and research of White Devil who gathered so much material to sample for such a specific topic. Fetishes, sex and crime are themes unfolding over drum and bass and I feel like giving a name to the mix I’ve been experiencing for the last 15 minutes. I will call it ‘Reportage Riot’. It’s current, eye-opening and real. Unlike the driven reportages we are fed in a daily basis by the news and social platforms. White Devil sounds like cropping the ugly parts from the –rose colored- news and putting them into music.

‘The Pfeffa’ opens with a heavy bass and hit hats, blurry dialogues and distorted vocals with marijuana being the main subject. Hard to comprehend, enigmatic but still sharp and straight-forward mood-wise. A rock-metal style is surfacing next in the harsh and aggressive piece called ‘C:)nt’. This one is not an easy ride but a challenge for the listener to dive into. Just like everything until now but this is maybe on top. Memorable for closing with a woman being abused, maybe raped, screaming for her freedom while the abuser is responding in a creepy voice filter not to be recognized. Deeply uncomfortable.

’40 Days’ is expanding the ‘C:)nt’ narrative with more violence and threatening dialogue for the human madness can be a boundless territory. I’m now realizing that calling the opening track of the album ‘disarming’ was an overestimation. Especially when I reach ‘You, too’ where we are transferred into an actual room where a rape is happening before our ears. It only gets more disturbing and it’s a wonder how 'Year of the Tyrant' is building up with absolutely no clue of what boundaries will be crossed next. Almost like a horror film but this is reality. And that’s a million times more horrifying. The monogram-titled ‘T’ is voicing the personality disorder of the criminal through commentary once more while ‘Hades Sharpens his teeth’ takes us back to the abuser's menacing. The track feels like a kick throwing us to the dark basement of the previous events.

An album like this would never miss capitalism and so the homonymous song 'White Devil' gives the proper space to the economy issue and the trap of productivity, closing with the bold statement 'There is no democracy'. And while this makes you think of how we grow to become gears in the system of today's society, feeding our leaders, 'Vesicate (Feeding the Whore)' follows to expand this concept. Right on time. 'Vesicate' is an ode to the ways we are controlled through science (technology,chemical weapons, viruses) with a metal vibe, giving off the anger of the repressed successfully.

After this raw experience that lasted for almost the whole album, we finally take a pause with ‘Between The Lines’ which is about the dismantling of the violent acts with media talking about satanic cult of pedophiles and not only. ‘Between The Lines’ is the rainbow after the storm. Like the end of a movie, where the victim is alive but irreversibly shattered, left to carry the burden of the hell they’ve been through for the rest of their lives. ‘Boogaloo Boogie’ is bringing the groove back as well as a smile on my face for the pain is finally over. Or just realized.

In this body of work, White Devil takes the darkest, sickest parts of the human soul, dresses them in beats and music and rubs them to our faces. Daringly, crudely, without guilt, straight from the source of the transmitting channels. 'Year of the Tyrant' is sociopolitical and anarchic without being offensive or absurd. It's a whole new horizon to acknowledge and embrace. And though the music sounds like the chaotic mind of a criminal, it’s nothing but a presentation of the limitless human corruption most of us won’t ever witness or even fully accept its existence.

Enjoy White Devil:

PS: A big Bravo from me to the artist for bringing this experimental/concept piece of music to life for there’s always a need for wake-up calls to face reality as it is and not as others would like us to see it. Not in a pessimistic manner but in terms of accepting that everything exists, good and bad. It's a reminder of appreciating and reconsidering the way we choose to walk through life. Cheers!


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