ShareTHE HEART & THE CROWN - The Devil Rides Out (Impedance)
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your beers. I come not to bury stoner rock but to praise it. At least in the way that Perth's The Devil Rides Out plays it.
Don't ask me why so much stoner stuff leaves me colder than a cactus in a Colorado canyon after dark. It's been dioscussed in the earlier review and elsewhere. Too much noodling and a lack of work ethic or the hippy overtones? Don't be too hard on me, I know most of it is just souped-up blues. I do know that The Devil Ride Out (mostly) tread a righteous path where high-energy is their guiding light, and that is not a bad thing. And they've gotten better.
The first thing The Devil Rides Out delivers is heaviness. In large spades. Guitarist Andrew Ewing has a heavily distorted, rich tone that sounds like a swarm of killer bees on the move. He slides into chunky chording like a '70s porn star slips into someone comfortable. The engine room have a decent enough command of dynamics to follow Ewen out of the trenches and into musical No Man's Land.
The next thing they deliver is darkness. Boy is it dark, where The Devil Rides Out Lives. Someone hasn't paid the electricity bill or the government just introduced a carbon tax. Tales of wigged out television addicts, guns, bodies buried in the garden and death. (I was going to say it sounds like an overseas holiday with Matthew Newton but that'd be a low blow.) Occasionally, the lyrics miss the mark and spiral off the edge, but no-one's perfect.
Vocalist Joey K does his bit and stakes out territory closer to guttural blues howl than air raid siren squeal. His throat is industrial grade and he probably gargles with creosote. He has a fair range; cock an ear to him chasing the sinewy guitar figure through "I Keep Secrets"
The other thing this band has is a sense of melody. Yeah, I know melody's for girls but if it's lacking, you're probably listening to dissonance.
"Phosphorous" is as close as TDRO gets to dissonance, with its sludgy baseline and distorto guitar line. Other times, TDRO stomp through slide-driven blues ("Hard Love") and bombastic desert rock ("Watch It Burn") with nods to Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age. Neither's my bag but they may be yours.
You have to admire the cahones or sheer contrariness of a band that releases an album's worth of material over three separate CD EPs with near identical cover art. That'll throw any fan. I bet there's more than one Perth longhair who bought one or more volumes twice over because he was too out of his gourd to work it out.
You, of course, are smarter than that kid. In which case you'll probably make a beeline for your nearest store and procure a copy of this. - The Barman
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VOLUME I - The Devil Rides Out (self released)
VOLUME II - The Devil Rides Out (self released)
VOLUME III - The Devil Rides Out (self released)
"Stoner" is a tag that sends me out in search of strong black coffee and a punk rock record. The name infers turgid riffing, leaden rhythms and those stoopid gated vocals with inane Stonehenge lyrics one step removed from (gulp) prog rock. Music that's fucking dumb with no redeeming humour or humanity - and music that's too stupid to care. So it cheers me to hear a West Australian band that dispels much of that.
Genres are idiotic other than as a general frame of reference. So let's call this "heavy cock rock" and be done with it. It's music that wears black T-shirts 24/7 and dark sunnies, smokes roll-your-owns and drinks Jack and Coke. It's also played with energy and a sense of knowing when it's being too pompous for its own good. Now there's a relief.
These "albums" are six-song EPs released over the space of more than a year. I'm easily leaning towards "Volume III" being the pick of the litter, simply on the strength of its superior production and better songs.
The collection's not without its missteps (the drum solo on "Demons" from "Volume II" had my remote control finger itching) but there's usually something like the sprightly "Tonight I Might" to redeem things. Even that one, lyrically speaking, is the retard kid at the back of the class with clunkers like "There is a girl I want to fuck" etc.
Bassist Ben Franz and guitarist Andrew Ewing appear to be the driving forces on the production side and although the songs are uncredited it's a fair bet they have a bit to do with them as well. Alien Smith does the job on "Volume III" and it's a sonic step-up.
"Volume III" is where it's at with a far bluesier feel that brings out the best in vocalist Joey K. The opening salvo of "Slow Gun" carries a hook bigger than a high-rise demolition team while "Meet Joe Blues" builds an irresistible wall of guitars. "The Shape of a Heart" and the ultra-heavy "The World Has Fangs" show the dynamic crunch lacking on the earlier recordings (the latter throwing in a touch of melody.)
If you're only as good as your last game, "Volume III" shows The Devil Rides Out could make it into the big league. - The Barman
1/2 - Volume I
- Volume II
- Volume III
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