‘Red’ is the third album from renowned, NZ-based (though bonafide international) metal act Devilskin. Recorded mid-2019 at Roundhead Studios in Auckland with the award-winning team of producer Greg Haver and engineer/mixer Simon Gooding, ‘Red’ is an aggressive, composed and compelling addition to the Hamilton act’s previous two very successful albums.
Do You See Birds kicks the album off with an upbeat groove, death growling giving on to brutal screams and agitated rhythms that pave the way towards a beautifully constructed melodic chorus. Jennie Skulander’s voice opens up magnificently and the thundering outro will no doubt go off live (when we finally see the end of this bastard pandemic).
In sharp contrast All Fall Down sounds much more like radio play hard rock, Skulander’s voice shining through in the second verse with some rich bright tones. Nail lays down a ripping solo with the rhythm section of Paul Martin and son Nic cracking away in support.
Corrode is a measured vocal-led ballad that builds with a filthy riff and groovy rhythm section. The chorus has Alexis On Fire vibes with serpentine bass moves and some incredible vocal variations to further lift the intensity.
Eyes Red Heavy reveals Devilskin’s softer side for the first time on this album, with cleaned up guitars in the verse sections and a laid back rhythm section. Then an aggressive chorus with chuggy guitar riffs and emotive vocals arrives, and the song finally departing with haunting acoustic guitars reminiscent of Pink Floyd. At just over five mins it’s the longest of the 12 tracks here.
Same Life brings a rockin’ bass intro, an upbeat riffer with a bluesy punk feel. Guttural bellowing vocals punctuate the verse before a very cool, melodic chorus and stand out, brutal double kicks see the song out. Another good radio taster.
This definitely feels like the band is stretching its wings and playing with some wiggle room provided by a robust fan base excited for new Devilskin music. There is great variety in the songs and the band seems to be rolling with some swagger.
The Victor has my favourite verse of the album. A vast chorus with some cool lead guitars hanging just out of ear’s reach breaks down to bass and a stripped back drum pattern. Some incredible drum fills populate the outro while Skulander again reaches high with her wailing vocals.
In Blood & Bone a down-tempo bass riff underpins the heavy, chugging guitars, and some mesmerising double kicks lead into the second chorus. Nic Martin’s drums sound enormous, you feel like you’re standing in the cave they were recorded in.
The gossamer vocal tone wrapping up Blood & Bone leads nicely into Endo, which is possessed of a surprising delicate intro before a dancey riff lands to herald the verse. The chorus moves up in dynamics but still recalls the delicacy of the intro, then a devastating bridge lights up the song before it fades into another evocative outro.
Bright Lights has a curiously John Mayer-esque guitar part highlighting Devilskin’s propensity for the unexpected. The bridge is sprinkled with flurries of tom fills and I loved the drum grooves in this track.
Sweet Release is a softer, stripped back tune – a break from the intense riffage that populates the majority of ‘Red’. This song builds in intensity for the second chorus before Nail serves up a moody blues solo. Channelling David Gilmour his lead work oozes tone everywhere without a thought for who’s going to clean it up. The track arrives at a big chorus and while we’re still in ballad mode, the intensity returns and breaks for a poignant piano outro.
Be Like The River offers a churning blues rock riff, accompanied by thundering bass stabs. This song provides an inspirational message about perseverance – it is of the same name as the previous album, so a recurring theme and a good one.
Everybody’s High But Me’s upbeat groove has a Soundgarden vibe to the riff and provides optimal moshability, particularly when the song slams you in the bridge. ‘Fuck this shit I don’t wanna get high,’ are the last words belted out on the album.
And frankly, neither would I, if I could make an incredible sounding record with some of the world’s best, and share it with a hard earned, loyal fan base. A fan base who I’m sure will lap up ‘Red’ because it has all the components of what makes this band so successful. Huge riffs, vocals second to none, something to say and a platform to scream it from.