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MP3 The Devil & His Witches - The Vigil

Melancholy goth-rock incorporating elements of 1980''s New Wave, hazy 1960''s garage pop, and vintage American murder balladry.

10 MP3 Songs in this album (51:04) !
Related styles: ROCK: Goth, ROCK: Folk Rock

People who are interested in The Cure The Sisters of Mercy The Byrds should consider this download.

Consisting of Damien Tavis Toman (guitar, vocals, lyrics & composition) and Lorelei Black (keyboard), The Devil & His Witches began in March, 2009 with the classic-sounding single “Deep Black.” They swiftly went on to write and record the remaining material that comprises the present debut volume, The Vigil.

By absorbing musical inspiration from such 1980''s Gothic-rock staples as The Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, and The Cure, combining it with stray 1960''s pop influences, and requisitioning lyrical themes from 19th-Century history and literature, The Devil & His Witches have discovered a sound and identity very different from any Gothic-rock band past or present. They embody the morbidly whimsical charm of the genre, without succumbing to suffocating gloom or artless self-parody.

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Like nearly every "old-school" gothic rock record, The Vigil makes no qualms about its sources of inspiration. It abounds with the musical phantoms of The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, and the other bands that comprised the essential gothic rock canon before such a term as "gothic rock" had come into being - to be immediately and universally repudiated by those very innovators who had first defined it.

But Damien Tavis Toman, the primary conceiver of The Vigil is not only a student of rock & roll history, but of literary history as well. Before the term "gothic" had been applied to music, and after a long time of claiming no other usage but the architectural, it came to find fresh utility in the world of books. The "Gothic" novel or story, as originated by figures such as Horace Walpole and Anne Radcliffe, was a romance of regular proportions, except placed in settings of wild majesty and grandeur, such as ancient and remote castles, and suffused with incidents of a plainly grotesque and supernatural nature. The term "Gothic" is reflective of the grandiose, sometimes bewildering, excesses attained by architects subscribing to the school of the same name. This definition of Gothic literature remained true through the 19th Century, as it continued to be spun from the pens of such primarily British writers as were bold (or careless) enough to be associated with it.

Inevitably, as all British habits did, the Gothic tradition found its way to the New World as well. Here, however, authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and E. A. Poe were less familiar with, and less interested in describing, the adventures of the aristocratic classes, with which European literature - Gothic and otherwise - was so predominantly consumed. Thus American Gothic literature retained much of its proclivity for the perverse and otherworldly, but removed it to the realm of the common classes, so that a dilapidated country hovel might be as "Gothic" a setting as a mansion or a palace. Soon, the term began even to lose its supernatural connotation, and began simply to refer to stories characterized by an atmosphere of violence, melancholy, and dread.

It is into this American tradition that The Devil & His Witches and their debut album, The Vigil is born. Recorded in a tiny, Great Depression-era cottage, deep and high-set in the mountainous area of New York where the Catskills collide with the Shawangunk Ridge, The Vigil is as much a product of American folk-music conventions as of the English bands by whom the gothic genre was inadvertently invented. Each of the eight songs comprising the main body of the album is, at its essence, a simple country ballad, telling the plight of the common person. In "Anna Lee," a twisted caricature is drawn using the combined features of Edgar Allen Poe and the early rock & roller Jerry Lee Lewis, both of whom married their adolescent cousins, and both of whom lost their brides to tragic and premature demises. In "Black Lung," endless successions of Appalachian fathers and sons are devoured alive by the same implacable coal mines, all in the sacred name of American capitalism and industry. In the fourth track a 19th-Century journalist attends a seance in hopes of debunking it, receives a love-note from the specter of a girl calling herself "Mayflower," and returns home to kill himself with the goal of joining her in the land of the shades. In "The Liberator," the unspeakably tragic Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire of 1911 is retold by the lover of one of the factory workers, who learns that his betrothed set the fire herself, when her attempts to organize a strike among her colleagues were suppressed. And so it goes from one song to the next, causing one to see that The Vigil marks the marriage of two previously exclusive but perfectly suited idioms - one purveyed by Joy Division and their successors, and one exemplified by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash, and the great balladeers of rural America.

With a first pressing limited to an infinitesimal 100 copies, The Vigil is a milestone in the history of gothic rock, rock & roll, and American music in general, that will hold its place in history, with or without the help of fame or critical praise. It cements The Devil & His Witches'' standing in the unwritten annals of a notorious and often-disregarded genre, as founders of the New Old School of Gothic Rock. "All that have ears, let them hear."

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"Otherwise known for his extensive body of stalwartly DIY gothic-folk lamentations, Damien Tavis Toman has added co-conspirator Lorelei Black to his one-man magic show, tapping a vital resource for brilliant synths and flooding his existing bag of tricks with a newly evolved depth and dimension. ''The Vigil'' is a fine example of alchemy; The Devil and His Witches herald a reformulation of DTT’s tragic mythos into an entity rife with inspired lyrics and a rich musical depth reminiscent of [ex-Revolting Cocks''] Chris Connelly and The Cure, melding vintage and modern folk with a distinctive 80s goth tinge . . . The Devil and His Witches have carved out a niche so unique that existing labels are just not applicable." - Deadbolt Magazine

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Damien Tavis Toman is the author of the book, "When the Hand of Death Seeks You in Youth," along with various other religious and philosophical writings. As a solo artist, he has recorded more than 25 original albums since 2002.

Lorelei Black is the American-born daughter of Romanian immigrants. She is a militant feminist blogger who enjoys astrophysics, knitting, and small animals.

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