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Empathy for the Devil

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Album Review

The late 1990s found the Electric Hellfire Club shifting focus from heavily electronic industrial sounds to more of a guitar-based alternative-metal approach. Synthesizers and samplers weren't eliminated but became less prominent, and the electric guitar started taking center stage. As EHC evolved, they didn't get away from shock value; the band still employed plenty of satanic and bondage/S&M imagery and continued to fancy themselves the musical equivalent of London's infamous Hellfire Club, where decadence, debauchery, and kink reigned supreme. (It was the Hellfire Club that, in 1966, inspired The Avengers' most controversial episode, "A Touch of Brimstone," which found Diana Rigg's Emma Peel character putting on her best dominatrix attire and shocking British viewers with an outfit that included a black corset, lace-up boots, a spiked dog collar, a whip, and over-the-elbow gloves). EHC's evolution is illustrated by Empathy for the Devil, a two-CD set that offers a few new tunes along with an abundance of previously released material. From the previously unreleased "Devil Inside" to fun covers of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," Motley Crüe's "Shout at the Devil," and the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," disc one spotlights the more guitar-oriented EHC. However, the second disc (which only last 14 minutes) focuses on EHC's more electronic side with the "Halloween Medley," which had come out before on limited edition vinyl and makes its CD debut with Empathy for the Devil. Combining EHC's take on Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi Is Dead" with such delights as "Incubus" and "Black No. 1," this medley was well-received by underground dance clubs and bondage/S&M/fetish establishments. Because of all the satanic and kinky imagery, this release won't be everyone's cup of tea, but EHC's music is never genuinely threatening — it's too campy, too tongue-in-cheek, too humorous for that. Like the recordings of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Empathy for the Devil must be taken for what it is: outrageous, over-the-top entertainment, pure and simple.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Electric Hellfire Club's eclectic, satanic, psychedelic music debuted in 1994 with the release of their first album, Burn Baby Burn, the EP Satan's Little Helper, and appearances on a string of compilations, including Mysterious Encounters and Industrial Revolution, Vol. 2. The following year, they released Kiss the Goat and toured extensively with Type O Negative, the Genitorturers, and fellow Cleopatra Records artists Spahn Ranch. Early in 1996, keyboardist Shane Lassen (aka the Rev. Dr. Luv)...
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Empathy for the Devil, The Electric Hellfire Club
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