Review: Devilskin – 'We Rise'
Sometimes my letterbox is a gateway to excellence. Granted, most days it is just a slot for bills, Chinese take away menus, and charity bin bags but not today, good people, not today. Today, Devilskin’s ‘We Rise’ hit my floor with a clatter. I will be honest, I hadn’t heard of this band before, so it went on the backburner to other reviews, but that was a mistake, as this album is one of best things to drop in my lap this year. From the first play I was gobsmacked. It is a stunning album.
So the next question, after how I have not heard of this band yet, is who the hell are they? Well after I awoke from my ‘We Rise’ induced shock first play, I got down to business and did a bit of digging. Devilskin are from New Zealand, the god-like Slash thinks they are “Awesome”, and he is not on his own, as this is already a massive hit in their homeland.
The album kicks off with the doom-laden, lazy riff machine that is “ Elvis Presley Circle Pit”, and you have to give the band 10 out of 10 for that name. It paints a hilarious picture to me of the jumpsuited hip-flayer, standing in bemusement as the crowd start kicking the crap out of each other. This track is heavy, but the first thing that will strike you are the outstanding tones of Jennie Skulander. Jeez, can this woman holler. Check out the video above if you don’t believe me. Not only does she have the voice, she has Skull in her name and she is drop dead, slap my face because I cannot stop staring, gorgeous… even as she screams “Fuck you!” at the lower end of her vocal path.
‘Little Pills’ is the video and lead single, with more doom vibe from the evil, red-bearded twins, Nail and Paul Martin. This is a solid and pretty radio friendly effort, but definitely a good doorway to their sound. ‘Vessel’ starts with a lighter feel, but that doesn’t last long. The song is definitely built around Jennie’s voice, and it has a seriously catchy and ‘need-to-play-again’ feel. We get more guttural depths from Jennie to tell the story of highs and lows. My only criticism of this whole album is the low end vocals. I just felt Jennie didn’t get the depth here Maybe one of the guys pulling the shots on these parts would work better.
Next we have the stunning vocalist screaming ‘Start A Revolution’, and to be fair, if Jennie asked me I would be right there, but to be honest, if she asked me to punch myself in the face I would be asking how hard. This is a real barnstormer of a song. It kicks off with keyboards, ditches that for guitar and a little angelic piece by Jennie, before she and the song kick into overdrive. There are some brilliant guitar pieces on here, and all rounded out by a solid back-beat from Nic Martin.
‘Never See The Light’ has a thumping bass intro, which leads into a kind of Van Halen ‘Atomic Punk’ feel, before sounding like a guitar played through a muddy puddle… a sort of ZZ Top on downers. The song has a real ’70s sound, with the high hat and ever changing beat. ‘Until You Bleed’ takes us in a new direction. A kind of ’90s punk, with a real Pop formula, but don’t take that as meaning a filler track, as there are none on this CD. It has a real gritty, dirty, and violent side to it. We get Jennie’s Jekyll and Hyde all in the one song, and all this swearing at me and threats of broken bones is just not putting me off you, Miss Skull.
‘Fade’ turns it right down. A lovely ballad that draws out the vocals with a southern backing track. ‘Surrender’ is another slow one, but with an edge. It shows the range in Jennie’s voice, as no matter how hard I try, I hear Janis Joplin in the emotion, Siouxsie Sioux in the anger and Marina Brink in the strength.
Next is ‘Burning Tree’, and you can tell this whole album is written around emotion in one form or the other. It kicks off with a Steve Harris bass intro J.us that and those ’70s vocals again. Leave your heart on the floor folks, this almost rips the tears from their ducts. A very powerful song, almost operatic in its delivery, before the riffs kick in to finish you off. As difficult as it was to pick a favourite, this one tops the lot for me, just for the power in the lighter shades.
‘The Horror’ starts with a mishmash of noises, child vocals, and chills, and is a good intro to the heavier and faster ‘Violation’. This will have thrashers bouncing off the walls. A song for the stage for sure. ‘Covet’ brings out the piano and sets a tone of desperation. Put that razor down folks, it’s only a short one. ‘Cherophobia (The Failure In Me)’ is a guitar-chugging piece of brilliance. ‘Dirt’ is precisely that… messy, everywhere, grubby, and this band want to shove your face in it till you give in to Devilskin with all your heart, or die in the process. As the song kicks off, I can imagine being slapped to the grind and groove of the beat.
This album passed in a blink of an eye, an obvious pointer to just how good it is. Another was the fact I went straight back to track 1 as soon as it finished. You need to hear this band now. Watch the video and see for yourself, but beg, borrow, steal, or beat someone up to get this album. Play the crap out of it, drool over the photos, buy the merchandise, and pray to whatever deity floats your boat to bring them to the UK for a tour. If you could pray extra hard and get them on the “In This Moment” tour next year I will supply food, blood, sacrificial lambs, an old VHS and maybe some money… just bring this band to our fair shores I beg of you.
Review: Ritchie Birnie