Late in 2011, Selim Lemouchi, principal songwriter and guitarist for Dutch occultist rock band, The Devil’s Blood, was interviewed for a mini-documentary. Promoting then-upcoming album, The Thousandfold Epicentre, Lemouchi discussed his bouts with darker agents, being drugs and alcohol, detailing his descent into rock bottom and his subsequent salvation. Behind this salvation you see an altar and a wall, marred and discolored with Lemouchi’s blood. “By cutting into my flesh and letting the blood out,” he explains, “I open a path to my soul. The living blood that runs out of my body dies immediately. It is a symbolic sacrifice to the forces of death. I practice this ritual to express my gratitude when songwriting went very well, for example. There’s no better way to express that gratitude than giving a part of my own life to the thing that I dedicate my music to.”

Bred from such dark expression, Lemouchi’s wall of sacrificial biohazard a rather unsanitary monument to his inspiration, The Thousandfold Epicentre possesses that monumental power and clarity to qualify as a classic rock n’ roll album. Granted such assessments only hold weight once the benefits of hindsight allow the time needed to back them up, but listening to The Thousandfold Epicentre, the gesture is huge and the music is stunning.

Though no real progressive complexities exist, harmony is king; orchestrated rock music that finds clear connection between the band’s occultist disposition, the psych-infused expanses of Jefferson Airplane or Hawkwind and the melodious guitar coupling of Judas Priest. As meticulously layered and constructed as fabric, the combination of riff and lead intertwine, singer F “The Mouth Of Satan” voices some absurd and lush combination of Diamanda Galás and King Diamond. It’s possible, too, that the only aspect of The Devil’s Blood that might instill a sense of discomfort is their unapologetic allegiance to the Unholy, their music mostly agreeable and difficult to dismiss as it has neither the shriek of black metal nor its aural pulverization. In their own way, The Devil’s Blood is masterfully eloquent, and as “On the Wings of Gloria” proceeds once its initial drumming onslaught dissipates and the song’s structure takes shape, you realize that there’s much less shock to this band than devotion, or even love. Not since Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” have I heard such a humanizing and sympathetic tone to the otherwise frightening ruminations of Hell and the Devil, but I’ll be the first to admit that I may have missed something along the way.

This doesn’t mean, though, that content is less provocative than most Devil-laced fare. F will relate powerful little tidbits like, “Your cunt is wet/And hurts yourself/And through your peak/I die the death” (“Die the Death”), or “Undress and possess me with your tongues of fire” (“Cruel Lover”). An album born out of ritual sacrifice is going to have its run-ins with cliché and align itself with past fetishism of the demonic or occult, especially when songs like “Symphathy for the Devil,” the aforementioned “N.I.B.” or even the more obvious “South Of Heaven” have time and time again addressed much of humanity’s relationship with evil utilizing the blues/rock/metal musical form. From this perspective, The Devil’s Blood do nothing to separate themselves from this collective, so scrutinizing them lyrically seems pointless.

In the meantime, though propped up as the group mission statement in some sense, (“I call your name… DEVIL!”), The Thousandfold Epicentre deserves to be appreciated for its passion. The band perfectly merges progressive dynamics (“Within the Charnel House of Love”) with 70s arena rock anthems (“She”), compellingly boasts orchestral rock epics (“The Thousandfold Epicentre”) with melodiously robust guitar leads (“Fire Burning”). The album’s final fifteen