Devilskin- Be like The River
Devilskin- Be like The River
Sophomore albums are meant to be tricky right? let’s just do a little history, Van Halen 2, Iron Maiden Killers, Queen 2, Linkin Park Meteora. If you take them all out of context you have great albums but they all pale in comparison to the debut. For this reason alone I was a little worried about listening to “Be Like the river”. “We Rise” was one of the best debut albums I have heard in a decade. It made a second album a really difficult task, it is full of classic tracks and its originality filled me with sheer joy, but…but Devilskin just blew it away with ease, if this was a boxing match I would be shouting “fix” as it has no damned right to rip “We Rise” apart and leave it in tatters.
Every single aspect of this album outshines its forerunner. The riffs are juicier, the thundering rhythm section is more brutal and Jen is sublime, her vocals are outstanding and drag emotions from deep inside yourself you probably didn’t even know you had. As if that is not enough the songs themselves are better in every aspect, the songwriting is the best they have done to date, the structure, sound and layers are of a band who have come a long way. You also have to praise the production as it is second to none.
There is nothing on this album that fails to surpass their debut and I still say this in shocked bemusement. This is a band that has grown together, taken what any normal band would class as their pinnacle, put it in a box and start all over again. The box is only there to remind them what they have to improve on.
Does it sound like Devilskin? Hell yes but this is new and improved in every department. It is like one of the big Formula One teams. They get to the end of the season and no matter how they finished they are going to throw millions into coming back bigger and better. They have experts improving every single aspect and end up with a smoother, more efficient beast. The most amazing thing about this is that the band have driven themselves to this point. They could easily have said lets make another “We Rise”, the fans would have bought it, the press would have loved it but no, this band want more, they want to improve themselves and they do not want to be followers in this industry, they want to grab it by the balls, squeeze hard and drag us all along shouting pay attention fuckers.
The album title itself tells you how serious this band is about forging their way. “Be Like The River” basically means don’t just follow, make your own way like water does, it may be soft, fluid and gentle but give it time and it can erode metal, break down stone and cut it’s own path. I could not sum up this band or this album any better.
The album begins with “In Black” and it has that thundering sound all Devilskin fans love. With a chorus like “I will be dressed in black” it is a call to arms to every metal fan who has drawers and wardrobes full to bursting with every shade of black band t-shirts. It is a thunderous opener.
“Mountains” could be classed as an old song now, it has even had its own tour in the homeland as well as a stunningly visual video. It is an amazing song and although it sounds more like the “We Rise” era it sits perfectly on this album. “Pray” has already been released, it is straight in your face with brutality. The guitars go for the throat and Jen is sounding outstanding whether it is the layered vocals or the guttural depths of her dark side. This song sums up this album in one track.
“Voices” is just WOW, this song was my instant favourite. With the gentle intro which has to be heard with headphones for full effect, Jen’s texture is beautiful. It then bursts into a kick ass classic, be it the melodic backing or the lyrics, lyrics that really drew my emotions out, I was screaming “ I have an army and their voices are loud” right along with her. I am thinking hell yes you do and we will tear anyone down who gets in your way. This was on a different level altogether.
“Believe In Me” is up next and almost touches on being a ballad, it has the sensitivity but is always kept on the heavy side and just to back it up the screams are back and sounding better than ever. There is more venom in them, I believe them much more than I did on “We Rise”
Devilskin goes Maiden on “F.Y.I”. It has a Somewhere In Time riff that takes the band on a new journey. Jen manages to twist it to Devilskin via Judas Priest and hells gates. It is littered with profanities which is going to sound amazing live…thousands of people screaming “take your fucked up sense of pride” is going to be so powerful.
“Bury Me” has the chuddering bass and guitar coming at us from the bearded battering ram. Nail and Paul sound amazing on this album. Pure cohesion in action and by the end of this song you will be hanging on the ropes like a punch drunk boxer. “House 13” starts like an adapted “Killing In The Name” and this song has that same sense of anarchy. Once again Jennie owns this song, her vocals soar to heights we have only had a teaser of before this release. I really cannot portray enough how more progressive and powerful she sounds. I had goosebumps all the way through this recording.
We are back to the thundering of Nail and Paul on “Grave”. This song takes you on a journey reminiscent of the symphonic metal world. The riff is industrial and a thing of beauty. The breakdown piece is awesome and I would lay money that this is a future single.
“Animal” is another complete change for the band, it harks back to the 70s. A bass intro dragged from Sabbath, Vocals from Janis Joplin and a tripped out sound of Pink Floyd. This was the surprise track for me, I love that era and the mass of bands that are keeping the sound alive today. Another favourite right here.
If you are too stingy to buy the deluxe addition of this album “Limbs” is your last track. How anyone would want this CD to end I have no idea but each to their own I suppose and if it is your last track you are in for a treat. We get treated to a huge sound with keyboards, strings and all manner of instruments hidden away. I actually missed these first time round and it wasn’t until I put on my headphones that the additional sounds came through. They are cleverly weaved into the song to create layers and depth and we also have Jen chanting in an almost Egyptian manner.
“Closer” is the first of the additional tracks and this track on its own is worth the price of the CD. Again we get a string section, some nice finger picking on guitar and I have never heard this singer sounding better. This love song will have you ringing the tears from your eyes. This will instantly be so many couples song. It is a beautiful number and sung with pure emotion and heartfelt love. You are not going to get a better line than “when you hold me that’s when I know that I am alive, there is a fire that burns inside” This song is absolutely stunning.
“We Rise” may sound as if it is on the wrong album but its fit is definitely made for this album. It has a riff throwback that has a Metallica take on the 80s. It has a cracking screaming chorus and the breakdown goes trippy on us again before it thunders to the albums closing bars and a lovely timed “Fuck you”.
I was breathless listening to this album, it was everything I had hoped for and more. After almost a full year I have found my favourite album of 2016. There should be no hesitation in buying this as you will look back in the years to come and say that was the album that broke Devilskin worldwide…it is that powerful.
Review Ritchie Birnie