DEVILSKIN…this band is interesting for a couple of reasons. For one, the group is a family affair, literally: Paul (bass) and Nic (drums) are father and son, Jennie (vocals) is Nic’s Aunt and Paul’s sister in law, while Nail (guitar) is Paul’s evil twin. The second reason is how quickly they’ve gotten where they are. Formed in New Zealand six years ago, the band’s debut album We Rise was released in 2014 and rocketed up the charts to #1 over there with a quickness. This also led to some serious international buzz. Now here we are two years later and they have just dropped the follow-up Be Like the River (out now, Independent/Rhythmethod).
This is an album of hills and valleys, highs and lows, but mostly highs. Most of the songs work, such as “Voices”, “FYI”, and “In Black.” Jennie has a hellacious voice that is rife with passion. When she sings it, she believes it, and she’ll make you do the same, no question. The group is heavy as hell (they’re not all noise and racket) with a very melodic sound. It’s obvious why they have toured with everyone from MÖTLEY CRÜE to MEGADETH because their music should be easily embraced by fans on either end of the rock/metal spectrum. And when they slow things down like on “Closer”, which is just Jennie with some haunting synth and guitars, the results are glorious.
“Bury Me” is one of the top tracks on the album with the way it rumbles along on the verses before taking off on the chorus, and “House 13” has kind of a stop-and-start thing going on with some sinister riffing throughout, and a pretty sexy solo. “Mountains” features some almost tribal patterned drumming and the music serves as a perfect backdrop for Jennie’s powerful voice. Single “Pray” is a punchy affair that benefits from subtle sequencing behind the main melody. Closer “We Rise” was definitely my favorite from the very first listen because the band is on fire from start to finish and I could also see them ending their live sets with this. Just a banger of a song!
I can honestly say that all the buzz surrounding DEVILSKIN is well-deserved. They are a very, very good band, and their brand of rock/metal should go down smooth alongside some beer and shots on a Friday or Saturday night. And while not all the songs were winners for me, the ones that did hit the mark, hit it hard, and hit it well. Be Like the River has some really great tunes and writing on it, so you should definitely check them out, and you should do that sooner rather than later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “We Rise”, “Bury Me”, Closer”, “House 13”, “Mountains”, “FYI”