"A man is the less likely to become great the more he is dominated by reason: Few can achieve greatness — and none in art — if they are not dominated by illusion."
—Mr. Doctor, in the advertisement that led to the band's formation.
"This is a painting, not a graphic work."
—Mr. Doctor, on why only one copy of The Mark of the Beast was pressed.
Not to be confused with the 1936 film
directed by Tod Browning
which is this band's namesake, nor the 1964 film Devil Doll
, nor with the female-fronted American band of the same name.
Devil Doll is a band formed in 1987 by the enigmatic "Mr. Doctor." Their music incorporates many varied styles of music into extremely long compositions. Despite never seeking any kind of mainstream recognition or major label distribution, they have developed a cult fanbase numbering in the thousands all over the world.
After recruiting two separate line-ups for the band — one in Venice, Italy and the other in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then Yugoslavia) — the band's first album, The Mark of the Beast
, was recorded in late 1987. A single copy of the album was made, which is owned by Mr. Doctor and the album has never been re-pressed (see second page quote). Soon after, Mr. Doctor began work on a second composition, The Girl Who Was... Death
, inspired by the 1967 TV series The Prisoner
. The band's sound technician, Jurij Toni, agreed to work on the new album, on the condition that there was produced "a painting for him and some graphic works for us." Mr. Doctor agreed to this, and 500 copies of the album were pressed, each with a unique insert made by Mr. Doctor, some with his own blood. Around 150 of these were given to the audience after the second live performance of the album; the remaining copies were destroyed by Mr. Doctor afterward, with the rationalization that everyone who was interested already got a copy. (It was later reissued in various editions, as were all subsequently-released albums.)
In 1989, work began on three new Devil Doll releases: Mr. Doctor Sings Hanns Eisler
, featuring interpretations of several of Eisler's works; The Black Holes of the Mind
; and Eliogabalus
; the latter two were intended to be released together as a double album. However, for budget reasons, Hanns Eisler
was never released, and The Black Holes
(renamed Mr. Doctor
) and Eliogabalus
had to be edited down so that each would fit on a single side of vinyl; these two were released as the Eliogabalus
album in 1990.
In 1991, the Italian and Slovenian line-ups of Devil Doll were combined. The next album they released was titled Sacrilegium
, in 1992. In 1993, the band released The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms
, the soundtrack to Mr. Doctor's experimental film of the same name (which in turn was inspired by the video clips the band displayed during shows,) which was a rearranged version of Sacrilegium
with around 30 more minutes of music.
Later in 1993, Devil Doll again entered the studio to record The Day of Wrath - Dies Irae
. However, the studio caught fire during a mixing session. Mr. Doctor and Jurij Toni escaped — the former unharmed, the latter with some injuries that required hospitalization — but nearly all of the recorded music was lost, except for a single unmixed tape Toni happened to have in his pocket. Mr. Doctor had copies of the unmixed tape, along with the sheet music for the composition, given to the band members, under the name The Lost Tapes
. In 1994, Mr. Doctor decided to re-record the album, whose name was now shortened to Dies Irae
. It was released in 1996 and to this day is the last Devil Doll record to be released to the public.
Since the release of Dies Irae
, comparatively little information about the band exists. It is known, however, that several other albums have been recorded. In 2004, the Devil Doll Fan Club started a mailing action to get Mr. Doctor to release more of Devil Doll's music. Numerous fan letters were collected and bound into a book, titled A Thousand Letters to Mr. Doctor
, which was then sent to him. Mr. Doctor responded by giving the fan who started the mailing action his own personal copy of Sacrilegium
, along with a unique artwork bearing the word "Astonished."
According to a 2008 magazine interview, Mr. Doctor is still writing and recording music with Devil Doll, but is not interested in releasing it.
Much more in-depth information can be found here
The band's last known line-up:
- Mr. Doctor - Vocals, organ, celesta, accordion
- Francesco Carta - Piano
- Sasha Olenjuk - Violin
- Bor Zuljan - Guitar
- Jani Hace - Bass
- Roman Ratej - Drums
- Davor Klaric - Keyboards
- Michel Fantini Jesurum - Pipe organ
- Numerous guest musicians appear on each album as well.
Devil Doll albums released to the public:
- The Girl Who Was... Death (1989)
- Eliogabalus (1990)
- Sacrilegium (1992)
- The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms (1993)
- Dies Irae (1996)
Other albums known or rumored to exist:
- The Mark of the Beast
- Mr. Doctor Sings Hanns Eisler
- The Lost Tapes - What remains of the original Dies Irae recording sessions.
- The Day of Wrath - Soundtrack to Mr. Doctor's second film, using 90 minutes of music from the Dies Irae sessions; a planned 1997 release never materialized.
- The Fall of the House of Usher - A soundtrack to the 1928 silent film of the same name; unreleased due to Mr. Doctor cutting ties with the group that commissioned it.
- The Carnival of Souls
- Five Murderous Suites
- The Cameo: A young Mr. Doctor can be seen in one of the stalls on the cover of Eliogabalus.
- Concept Album: All of them, though the most straightforward of these is probably The Girl Who Was... Death, which is essentially The Prisoner in music form.
- Cool Shades: There are several pictures of Mr. Doctor sporting them. Another band member speculates in an interview that The Man had them custom-made, as he'd never seen shades like them anywhere else.
- Cover Version; Several:
- The unreleased Mr. Doctor Sings Hanns Eisler album.
- Most versions of The Girl Who Was... Death end with a cover of the theme from The Prisoner as a hidden track. The original pressing has this at the beginning of the album instead, with a different outro (not available on any other version) as the hidden track.
- Mr. Doctor ends with an accordion version of the traditional Slovenian song "Vsi So Venci Bejli," which later appears on Sacrilegium and The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms as well.
- The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms opens with "March on the Drina," a Serbian war song.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The lyrics of the Sacrilege albums contain the line "pure purity."
- Epic Rocking: Every Devil Doll song released is upwards of 20 minutes long. The only two songs that don't take up an entire album were originally supposed to.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Mr. Doctor was never addressed by his real name, at least until 2007 when an interview concerning his book of UK Punk Rock singles, 45 Revolutions, revealed that his real name is Mario Panciera; however, considering the air of mystery that has always surrounded the band, some fans think that this isn't his real name, either.
- Hidden Track: One on every album except Eliogabalus.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Every publicly released album has at least three or four different editions, and at least two of each of these are extremely limited, including massive hand-made box sets for the band members limited to 10 or so copies.
- Lost Forever: The original Dies Irae recordings, except for The Lost Tapes as mentioned above.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Mr. Doctor, full stop. He's even credited as this in the Dies Irae booklet.
- Meaningful Name: "Mr. Doctor" is a reference to Mr. Hyde and Doctor Jekyll. He also really does have two doctorate degrees, in criminology and philosophy.
- Mind Screw: While every song/album does tell a coherent story, good luck figuring out just what the hell the story is.
- Nightmare Sequence: Part 12 of Dies Irae, aka "Incubus," which consists of short snippets of numerous longer pieces assembled at random to give the feeling of a nightmare. It works.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: In Sacrilegium, The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms, and Dies Irae.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: Shows up in most compositions.
- Psycho Strings: Appears quite a bit, most notably in the "Incubus" of Dies Irae.
- Shout-Out: Mr. Doctor's influences — from film, music, art, literature, and so on — are referenced repeatedly in the music, lyrics, and artwork of each album. He claims there are hundreds of such references — good luck finding them all!
- Dies Irae is a tribute to 'George Harvey Bone,' a character from the movie Hangover Square whose music is supplied by the composer Bernard Herrmann. Mr. Doctor's first book was a thorough analysis of Herrmann and his music.
- Snippets from various horror soundtracks are inserted in a few of the albums, usually in a manner that doesn't draw attention to them. The end of the famous Shower scene from Psycho appears in Sacrelegium. Dies Irae contains a few bars from The Man Who Laughs; Dies Irae's credits explicitly list a few of the other sources that Mr. Doctor drew from.
- The booklet from the bag set includes a number of film recommendations straight from The Man himself.
- Soprano and Gravel: Usually Mr. Doctor does this trope all on his own, but occasionally there is a second vocalist to act as the soprano to his gravel.
- The Stinger: The hidden track at the end of Sacrilegium and The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms reveals that Mr. Doctor's character is being buried.
- The Yugoslav Wars: Most of Devil Doll's albums were recorded against the backdrop of these conflicts, and the Tivoli Studios fire which destroyed the original Dies Irae recording is suspected to be the result of residual political unrest, though this was never proven.
See how her hair drifts dreamy and gentle as river grass,
and see the fresh, new mouth,
slashed so neatly beneath her dreaming chin.