Amigo the Devil, aka Danny Kiranos, is ultimately a story teller. His music ranges from the macabre to the simply humorous with western tones and bluesy flavours. He’s a country artist who metal fans have adopted as their own. Since his 2018 debut Everything is Fine, Amigo the Devil has developed a cult like fan base, all completely enthralled with his fresh dark take on traditional folk music. Born Against is no exception to his eclectic brand, proving to be a thoroughly enjoyable and reflective listening experience.
Opening track Small Stone begins with a hauntingly beautiful intro, meditative and minimal like rain droplets trickling down a window. Then the sun rises with a gorgeous vintage feel, violins soaring alongside the vocals that momentarily seem possessed by Tom Jones. Small Stone is the very definition of a build-up, victorious and stunning with its lyrical connotations of addiction.
Quiet as a Rat has such a raw western feel, very reminiscent of The Picturebooks. Harking to Amigo’s Spanish roots, low bluesy trumpets blend in seamlessly with the jaunty guitar. The lyrics speak of three individuals attempting to mask and hide their inner demons with biblical references. It’s immediately clear that Amigo’s words and delivery are immensely captivating and poetic, like a wise sage telling stories of old around the fire.
I immediately gravitated to latest single Murder at the Bingo Hall due to its excellent title. Amigo’s humour really flourishes here in a song so dramatic that it would be worthy of an outlaw’s theme song in a local saloon. Yet the lyrics simply speak of an individual absolutely smashing it during a game of bingo. Here is the power of Amigo the Devil as a humble game adored by older women is transformed into a gunslinging competition of life-or-death intensity.
Drop for Every Hour is oozing with bitterness and sheer fury over a relationship in decline. The lyrics and poetic imagery are just so excellent here that one passage literally made me exclaim out loud in approval:
“Every word from your fucking mouth is like bringing wood to a burning house. And we’ll be here all night until ashes is all we breathe.”
Just sublime and perfectly showcases how Amigo can create such beauty in chaos.
Better Ways to Fry a Fish is a serene bluesy interlude, a total dichotomy with the gruesome lyrical content, opening with “I pried his kneecaps up like the lid on a can of paint.” This is followed by the ballad Different Anymore, a heart-breaking tale of confronting the self and wanting to become a better individual. There’s such clever word play in the chorus with different and change being used interchangeably such as “I’m trying to be different than before I changed.”
Another Mans Grave progresses with an acoustic backing, the description of scenes and characters forming perfectly in my mind. This is such a rare and beautiful quality to have in music and it truly consolidates Amigo as an elevated story teller. The song ends by saying how he’s going to die in another mans grave, a fear we all have of not living as authentically as we wish and not truly embracing ourselves, our dreams and attributes.
There’s an immediate tone shift with 24K Casket, a jaunty up beat tune that makes me think of the Smokey and the Bandit soundtrack. The lyrics make me smile throughout, a tongue and cheek look at life with focus on material goods, bad luck and death. Amigo’s message is to embrace every day and everything you possess, no matter the quantity.
As the album draws to its conclusion, the darkness begins to creep in. Shadow is sinister, the guitars grating and all consuming. Letter from Death Row is a title straight from a Johnny Cash album, a truly emotional piece, raw in regret and longing for past loved ones as time runs out. The lyrics are beyond beautiful and admittedly a few lines encouraged tears in my eyes:
“There won’t be any angels singing me to sleep, you’re the closest thing to heaven I’ll ever see”
Just exceptionally romantic and fuelled with so much sadness. Letter from Death Row possesses a similar tone to opener Small Stone, a full circle moment as the album concludes.
Born Against is another wonderful journey into the inner mechanisms of Amigo the Devil’s psyche, a mind full of oddness, darkness and straight up comedy. However, he strikes a perfect balance of emotions as there’s plenty of opportunities for listeners to feel joy, reflection and sadness. Most importantly, Born Against is accessible to anybody no matter their particular music taste. There’s something that resonates with everyone, be it the outstanding storytelling or the range of folk and bluesy backdrops.
Amigo the Devil is the perfect shot of whisky to liven the soul.
Highlights: Quiet as a Rat, Murder at the Bingo Hall, 24K Casket
Amigo the Devil is a part of Liars Club Records