IN THEORY, religious music is supposed to be a celebration of faith, a lifting of one's voice to a higher power. Unfortunately, most of it ends up sounding like a soulless, droning mantra, a pat and easy way to deliver the ideals of a belief system, moral code, or way of life.

Hailing from the Netherlands, the Devil's Blood create music that is ripe with themes often explored in religious psalm. Reflections on love, devotion, and self-sacrifice are thick on all of their records. It may all be directed toward death and Satan, but that doesn't cheapen the fact that the end product is far more heartfelt and powerful than "Kumbaya" could ever hope to be.

The first thing that probably comes to mind about a Satanic band is ferocious, terrifying metal. Typically, that is the case. Bands like Watain, Deicide, and Behemoth are militant about their denial of God and humanity. Their lyrics are violent and hateful, and their image is bloody, creepy, and disturbing. The Devil's Blood have turned that pigeonhole inside out. Their music is sensual, transcendent, and passionate. If primary songwriter and guitar player Selim "SL" Lemouchi wasn't too busy rehearsing and flagellating himself to do an interview (seriously, check the internet—his walls are smeared with his own blood), he would most definitely agree that the inspiration that drives the band is not tangible.

The Devil's Blood might infer blasphemy and devil worship, but they do it using elements Satan peddlers have never used before. Instead of fiery hot tremolo riffs and blast beats, the Devil's Blood uses the caress of melody and emotion-filled guitar solos. SL's sister and vocalist, F "The Mouth of Satan" (I can't make this shit up), has the range and vibrato of a lurching gospel singer using her whole body to project her voice. Their atmospheric rock is dark and bleak, but the expression is joyful. A glorious homage to, as they put it, the "great and pristine provider of nothingness and death."

For the record, and my mother, I am most certainly not a Satanist. But when I hear the Devil's Blood, I hear the beauty of musicians pouring themselves into their music.