ALBUM REVIEW: Daeva – Through Sheer Will and Black Magic 


Through Sheer Will and Black Magic (20 Buck Spin) is the debut full-length release from Philadephia’s Daeva, a perhaps overdue followup to 2017’s Pulsing Dark Absorptions EP.  The new record is a “fiery maelstrom of early demonic black metal and jagged edge thrash convulsions”, according to the press release, and the cover art is undeniably of the Hellish persuasion, depicting as it does in quasi-cartoon form a plethora of dragons, devil-beings and other assorted ghoulish creatures against a dramatic backdrop of moody skies and outlandish cliffs. It’s the type of album cover that could have been plucked straight out of the eighties and that could either be viewed as life-affirmingly nostalgic or snigger-inducingly ludicrous. 


Perhaps it’s intended to be a bit of both.


Happily, for anyone well-versed in the lexicons of the thrash and black metal worlds, ludicrous is not a word likely to be applied to the nine tracks that make up the thirty-seven minutes of Through Sheer Will and Black Magic. Nostalgic, on the other hand, yes. The music, production and all, pulsates with the aura of late eighties / early nineties underground extreme metal. 


The lyrics (largely indecipherable, naturally) seem to rail in phantasmagorically excessive style against organised religion, with occasional detours from depicting Luciferian demons to instead lament personal ones. The song titles (see ‘Polluting the Sanctuary (Revolutions Against Faith)’,  ‘Fragmenting In Ritual Splendor’ and ‘Luciferian Return’) illustrate the same classic metal sensibility that sits right on the line between perturbing and mirthful.


The words in question are barked out by Edward Gonet with a slightly submerged, reverb-drenched, pleasingly dread-inducing and resolutely unmelodic tone that harks right back to those early black metal classics. His screeches, howls, groans and croaks are elevated vastly by a sense of conviction and control that allows us to suspend disbelief and immerse ourselves in this exaggerated world of inner turmoil and fantastical insurrection.


The riffs are there too. Mostly they are breakneck-paced and electrifying. Overcharged speed metal grooves and discordantly maniacal black metal textures continually swap places whilst the drum kit is relentlessly pummelled into dust. The songs are peppered with gloriously triumphant tech metal guitar solos and impossibly fast blast-beats. Occasional doomy or ambient breakdowns provide counterpoint to the otherwise constant force and velocity. Even without those breaks though, there is a great deal of variation, in the dynamics, time signatures and rhythmic feel, so that the music feels consistently fresh and genuinely exciting. The band is comfortably tight, even at absolutely unhinged tempos (just listen to Enrique Sagarnaga’s swaggeringly potent cymbal work), yet the production retains a degree of punk roughness that imbues the record with the energy of a live show.

Through Sheer Will and Black Magic does not re-write any rulebooks; everything here, right down to the ambient synth intro, is based on tropes that have been around for at least thirty years. What Daeva have created, however, is an immaculately executed celebration of classic underground metal culture that overflows with the highest quality material and throbs with unfaltering resolve.


Buy the album here:


7 / 10