DEVILMENT – Enter Another Dementia
November 18, 2016, a year ago
“We tried to play on the strengths of the first record,” (2014’s The Great And Secret Show) says frontman Dani Filth, when talking about Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes, released November 18th via Nuclear Blast.
Devilment underwent a change in drummers between their debut and sophomore offerings. “Obviously Aaron (Boast) left. He passed the sticks over to our new drummer Matt (Alston). It wasn’t like Aaron was forced out or anything. He had a new job, he was moving house, and getting back with his ex-wife. It was one of those situations where he said, ‘look guys, I don’t want to let you down, but I’ve got a replacement I think you’ll like.’ So we had someone fresh behind the kit. But for Lauren (Francis – keyboardist / vocalist) and Colin (Parks – guitarist) – on this album they started from scratch, whereas they joined the band halfway through the writing of The Great And Secret Show. I guess this time they feel like they’re at home, rather than passengers. We worked really hard in the studio collaborating with them and the producer (Scott Atkins), who has a real knack for busting our balls. We spent four months where we’d jettison things and rewrite parts. ‘Under The Thunder’ for example, we couldn’t decide whose chorus we preferred, so we cut them in half and glued them together – Lauren’s chorus and my chorus. There was an emphasis on trying to write something that – and I really hate to say it – has pop sensibilities. It’s a heavy as fuck record; what I’m trying to say is, the emphasis was on trying to write an album that people remember.”
Lauren is all over The Mephisto Waltzes; it’s almost like Devilment has two lead vocalists; to call her a backing vocalist is a real disservice. “Yeah, I don’t want anybody to think – and again I hate to use the terminology – it’s a vagina metal band. But there’s four, maybe five songs, where she plays quite an integral part in the choruses. That was something we thought worked really well and suited the band; as well as the synth sounds. We spent a lot of time developing those; some songs have got like an industrial tinge to them.”
The album title, Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes, was partially inspired by Danzig and how he would number his albums; as well as the Misfits’ song “Mephisto Waltz”. That being said, the Mephisto Waltzes are also a series of four waltzes by 19th century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. “The album cover (pictured above) came first,” explains Dani. “We didn’t have a title, and it eventually sort of came to us from the fact that the woman on the cover is dancing this strange, weird tarantella; and that suggested waltz. I’d just read, not so long ago, part of Goethe’s Faust; and those stories - similar thing, Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles. The Glenn Danzig thing was just that - Danzig II: Lucifuge; Lucifuge is another high-ranking infernal spirit. Then the fact that when he was singing for the Misfits, they had ‘Mephisto Waltz’. And, The Mephisto Waltz was also an American horror movie that came in that big wave of occult films toward the back end of the ‘70s with: The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Race With The Devil, The Exorcist. So all of this combined, it seemed perfect because it suggests that the tracks on the album are all linked; they’re all chapters. The band’s called Devilment, which is that sort of Machiavellian mischievousness. It’s not Devilment with big, upside down crosses and bleeding skulls, virgins chained up – though we tried,” snickers Dani.
Aforementioned composer Franz Liszt isn’t the only Hungarian element found on The Mephisto Waltzes. Track five is titled “Shine On Sophie Moone”; type “Sophie Moone” into Google and the result is numerous listings for a Hungarian porn star with the same name. According to Dani, “It’s a song about fan obsession, fanaticism, and jealousy. There was an odd British program ages ago called Shine On Harvey Moon; it’s just a play on words really. ‘Shine On Sophie Moone’ was actually a title for the ill-fated Temple Of The Black Moon (Dani’s side band with Rob Caggiano and John Tempesta). I started writing it, but never got around to finishing it. I thought, that works totally. You’re going to get the impression that this person is stalking. He feels like he can own someone because they’re in that line of work, they’re put on a pedestal, they’re gorgeous, etc. I really do hope we don’t get a lawsuit.”
Another interesting example of wordplay can be found in “Dea Della Morte”, which is Italian for Goddess Della Morte – the Goddess of Death. Dani managed to work Cinderella and Creature From The Black Lagoon into the same set of lyrics; Walt Disney would be horrified if he was still alive. “That song itself is fucked up; it’s twisted, it’s drug-induced. It’s a strange fairy tale that even mentions (supermodel and America’s Got Talent judge) Heidi Klum. It was one that we rewrote several times because it’s a weird transitional piece, but I think it came out great in the end because it is bizarre.”
“Hitchcock Blonde” was inspired by legendary English film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock, and his infatuation with the blonde-haired actresses cast in his movies. In fact, the song name-checks ten of them, including Joan Fontaine, Grace Kelly, and Janet Leigh. Perfect subject matter for a video shoot, which took place at a disused, haunted hotel in Suffolk, England. “The strange thing is, I remember when it was open,” recalls Dani. “It’s very famous, it’s called Nelson – as in the Admiral of the British Navy. He had stayed there, but it’s derelict. It’s got a Costa Coffee, and it’s right in the middle of my hometown. It used to be very grand, but now you feel like a ghost yourself cause it’s creepy as fuck! We got there the night before to set up, and it was freaky as hell. Bits have been added – different wings and stuff, so you can get lost in there. Long story short, I’m fascinated with ghosts, so I’ve looked up the whole history of the place. Room 305 is the most haunted. People have seen faces at the window, things have been dragged around; it was a common occurrence. The reason being, some woman who worked at the hotel, burned to death in a fire in that wing and is supposed to be haunting the place. Obviously we went to find the room, there was nothing untoward about it at all; it was relatively boring to be fair. And it’s been renovated, it wasn’t fully the same room it once was. Anyway, we get back down to the Trafalgar Room, where the main band performance is going to be. Our guitarist’s phone – much to his discontent cause he’d just bought it – was going ape shit! It was literally like ET had touched it. He actually passed it around to everybody, there was hieroglyphs going across it, and it was flashing from every orifice. He tried to make a call with it, and it gave him an electric shock. We’d never seen a phone do anything like that, it was possessed; it had to be the ghost! At the moment, I’m totally immersed in reading a load of Victorian ghost novels and stories by E.F. Benson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, M.R. James, because the new Cradle Of Filth album has a decidedly Victorian horror feel to it. Despite all that, there’s no way in the world that I’d spend a night in there. It was more than haunted… there was something about it, the sense of decay. But the video (which can be viewed below) is very cool.”
Two additional tracks, “The Seductive Poison” and “Father Dali”, can be found on the deluxe version of Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes. Dani alludes to why they were deemed bonus material. “I admit, ‘The Seductive Poison’ is a great song, but in the scheme of things, it just didn’t fit as well. Because you decide at the end, you’ve worked as hard on those as you have the other songs; the production values are the same. And ‘Father Dali’ is about Salvador Dali, as viewed through the eyes of an illegitimate child. There’s all these rumours that he had children with dancers or fellow artistes. I’ve been to two Dali museums. I went to the one in Florida earlier in the year, and after the American tour, I had a holiday in Spain and we went to Figueres, where his museum is. Then I thought it would be great to do ‘Father Dali’, because we had ‘Mother Kali’ (on The Great And Secret Show). Next album we might do ‘Brother Marley’ about Bob Marley, I don’t know?” giggles Dani.
Initial reports suggested Devilment would record twelve songs for The Mephisto Waltzes, yet including the bonus tracks there’s only eleven. The one title that was leaked, which hasn’t appeared anywhere is “Plot Spoiler: There Will Be Monsters”. “That was one of the songs I had real vision for. Between the producer and the rest of the band, they decided we were only working on eleven, and jettisoned that one. I was gutted, because although it wasn’t up to spec; it would have been. I had a great vision for it. Hopefully we’ll work on that again, because I really like it. It had sort of a sci-fi vibe to it with weird sounds and vocal effects. It was very much in line to ‘Under The Thunder’; yet the vocals are really quick. They’re double time over a half time beat; it wasn’t rap at all, but it jumped all over the place. It was cool, but unfortunately it was not to be.”