Well, after the string of outstanding albums I’ve gotten to review recently, there was bound to be a not-great one in there somewhere. I guess this is my comedown after the euphoric high of seeing some killer live shows and rocking hard to a couple of really awesome thrash releases all weekend long, huh? So, let’s talk about Kill Devil Hill’s new one Revolution Rise. Yes, we all know the musical pedigree of Rex Brown and Vinny Appice, and I am not here to dispute their talents as musicians. Same goes for guitarist Mark Zavon. His style of play and the riffs he churns out are for the most part very good. My biggest issue with this band is the vocalist Dewey Bragg. He actually has a good voice, but too often he sings in this breathy, rough style reminiscent of some of the 80’s bands I didn’t care for back then, so why the hell would I wanna listen to nearly an hour of it now?
Why don’t we just do this? I’ll tell you guys what I did and didn’t like, then when the album comes out on October 29 via Century Media Records you can judge for yourselves, and if you disagree with me, feel free to bombard my inbox with hate mail. I’m a big boy, I can take it. There wasn’t anything for me until three songs in, and that song is “Leave It All Behind” which totally reminds me of Blue Murder, who I love. The tribal drums and hypnotic, serpentine rhythms of “Stained Glass Sadness” also really got my motor runnin’, as did “Endless Static”, which employs a more straight ahead approach without trying to reinvent the metal wheel. “Stealing Days”, while sounding like something off an old Lynch Mob album, was another tune that I thoroughly enjoyed.
What do all these songs have in common? Bragg is using his clean voice for most of them which is much better than that gruff nonsense that permeates a lot of the other ones. Also, Zavon is laying down some stellar guitar lines. “Life Goes On” and the untitled piano song it is paired with to close the album is another winner, and a perfect note to go out on, especially the second untitled part. So that’s what, six songs so far out of twelve, with six more to go. Not too bad, right? I wish it were that simple.
Now, the bad: opener “No Way Out” musically is one hellacious dish, and Zavon’s guitars are terrific. The tone, the chunky riffs, pretty much everything, but again, the voice ruins it, and that chorus is god-awful. I’m sorry, it just is. “Crown of Thorns” is a walking cliché; a reminder of everything that was bad about 80’s and early 90’s metal. If I needed a stiff drink after that one, I needed the whole bottle after “Wake Up the Dead”. With this slow-dragging funeral dirge, you’re not waking ANYBODY, dead or alive, fellas. And “Long Way from Home” fares no better. Even worse, they put these two together on the disc!! Oy! “Where Angels Dare To Roam” is another one. Starts out great, riffs galore, then it just devolves into something utterly forgettable.
Admittedly “Why” was one I hated at first, but after several listens the groove sucked me in, and damn if that hook wasn’t in my head all day. So we move that over to the good pile. OK…so what does it all mean? Does Kill Devil Hill’s new album suck? No. No, it doesn’t. Is it better than average? Absolutely. Out of twelve songs I liked seven, and some of them I REALLY liked. But the ones I didn’t, I flat-out HATED. I know everyone is tripping over themselves to shower this band in accolades, but I won’t lie to you guys when it comes to music, and I just don’t see myself firing Revolution Rise up again anytime soon.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Leave It All Behind”, “Stained Glass Sadness”, “Endless Static”, “Stealing Days”