Daeva – Through Sheer Will and Black Magic Review

I really love when a terrifying entity gets paired with an exceedingly innocuous name. Huge men named Tiny, giant three-headed dogs named Fluffy, powerful enchanters named Tim, ferocious black metal bands named Seth or ‘Kevin,’ they all tickle my funny bone. That last example became a meme when Kvaen released their debut album in 2020 and shouts of “Kevin!” rose up across the metalverse. The phenomenon reminded me of a cat I had growing up. His name was Kevin, a name that contrasted sharply with the fact that he was a huge, muscle-bound beast of a cat. He routinely wore the cone of shame because his favorite hobby was sparring with the local racoon population. He’d disappear for a few days, only to return covered in scars and abscesses. He lived this lifestyle for over a decade, and while we were constantly dumbfounded by his inability to learn (or die) from these experiences, we never once doubted his fighting spirit. I’ve said all of this to explain why, when I stumbled upon Through Sheer Will and Black Magic, the debut album from Pennsylvania blackened thrashers Daeva, my brain automatically changed the band’s name to something silly. Allow me to introduce you to ‘Dave.’

Daeva carries some serious post-2000 metal credibility among its ranks. Guitarist Scott Jansson and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga are longtime members of Crypt Sermon, and bassist Frank Chin joined Crypt Sermon in 2019 after spending eight years laying down rhythms for progressive thrash titans Vektor. Joining these fine instrumentalists is Infernal Stronghold vocalist Eddie Chainsaw, and together, these four nefarious gentlemen produce some of the most violent blackened thrash I’ve ever heard. Embedded single “Arena at Dis” starts off with a blackened flurry of near-death metal intensity before settling into a nice thrashy groove that introduces Chainsaw’s perfect, quintessentially black metal croak. The song’s catchy violence hints that Daeva is intent upon reviving the black magic found on Bathory’s self-titled debut.

And it’s hard to deny that they’ve accomplished that feat when Through Sheer Will and Black Magic delivers a brutally varied beatdown over the course of eight proper tracks and 36 minutes. After a gratuitous intro track—again recalling Bathory—first proper track “The Architect and the Monument” starts things off with some deceptively technical NWoBHM-tinged blackened thrash; the track is immediately pleasing, but repeat listens reveal just how incredible the guitar, bass, and drum performances are. “Passion Under the Hammer” and “Polluting the Sanctuary (Revolutions Against Faith)” lean even more heavily in the NWoBHM direction, the pseudo-title track “Loosen the Tongue of the Dead” dials up the punk levels, and “Itch of the Bottle” and “Fragmenting in Ritual Splendor” throw some savage death metal riffing into the mix. Closer “Luciferian Return” takes the crown though. The seven-minute epic approaches Song o’ the Year levels with legions of rhythm changes and a world class outro.

Aside from the intro track and a brief subdued outro to “Passion Under the Hammer,” Through Sheer Will is almost pure pedal-to-the-metal extremity. The album is an immensely pleasing visceral experience. It’s raw black metal without the ‘raw.’ The guitars and drums are right in your face, and Chainsaw’s vocals channel Quorthon’s infernal spirit. The production could stand to be a bit clearer and quieter (it would be nice to hear a bit more of Chin’s virtuosic bass), but overall, the record is an aural success. Every track here has something remarkable to offer, so you should listen to the whole thing. But “The Architect and the Monuments,” “Arena at Dis,” “Loosen the Tongue of the Dead,” and “Luciferian Return” are especially sinister.

It’s been over two years since a blackened thrash album has kicked my ass so thoroughly, so I’ve relished the opportunity to refill my bullet belt with Dave’s Killer Lead. With Through Sheer Will and Black Magic, Daeva has joined Bewitcher and Blackevil to become one of my favorite blackened thrash/speed metal bands in recent memory. Listen and be destroyed. And when you inevitably reach the gates of hell, tell Satan that Dave sent you.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: facebook.com/daevablackthrash
Releases Worldwide: October 14th, 2022

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