2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Devilskin, and they’re primed for their third studio release. After two number one albums in their home nation of New Zealand, they’re looking to capitalize on past success with ‘Red.’
Devilskin have got a few different songs in their arsenal. Along with their more trademark rock songs, they’ve got shades of lighter and heavier material that is presented in the album. Lead singer Jennie Skulander uses this to showcase her versatile voice, going from one extreme to the other. From the delicate ‘Sweet Release’ to the ferocious ‘Everybody’s High but Me,’ she ticks every box.
They open with an infectious riff that really gets the ball rolling on the first song, ‘Do You See Birds.’ Combined with pounding drums and Angela Gossow-like screams, the song projects pure power. It’s almost as if the opener has thrown down the gauntlet in front of the rest of the album, daring any follower to come and challenge it. The band follow this up with All Fall Down, which doesn’t have the same intensity, but the band allow the song space to flourish, holding the notes for that extra bit longer. The guitars and drums intelligently interlock in the chorus, syncing sets of 16ths which help to break up the song, giving room for the vocal melodies to take center stage.
The main single off the album is a proper rock song that grooves. Corrode really illustrates what the band are about. A no-nonsense badass tune that has a big song feel to it. Considering it‘s pace, Devilskin opt for a simpler approach here, and it’s a case of less is more. It has a Halestorm kinda vibe to it, with the vocals opening up more and voicing the bands passion in the choruses. Having said that, if they could’ve just squeezed a guitar solo in there, it would be the perfect modern-day rock anthem.
Similar to Corrode, the Victor is another solid rock song but with a twist. With a lighter and more major sounding tonality, it makes for a more feel-good tune. Furthermore, it has some nice underlying elements. From the double bass drum locking in with the riff rhythm in the verse, to the subtle ghost notes in the chorus, rhythmically the Victor is a song where the band sound at their tightest. You’ll have to forgive a drummer’s bias, but for me this is one of the top tracks off of Red.
They bow out with the title track of the previously released EP, Everybody’s High but Me, ending the album just how they started it. Notching up the pace, the song takes on punk-rock nature with a heavier twist initiated by the shredding guitars, followed up by the rest of the band. You’ll most likely be distracted by either moshing to the verses mimicking the chorus to notice how quickly it goes. However, Jennie decides to go up a gear before it’s conclusion, with screams that I can only describe as sick (I mean that in a good way.)
The production sounds a bit washy for me. It lacks the cutting edge that you’d get with higher end production, but sometimes that can be expected. What I like is that there’s enough variation on this album. They still stay true to themselves, but Devilskin don’t allow their sound to become too predictable. Due to this, it should only increase their audience. Slower & fast, lighter & heavy, simpler & complex, Red has a tasteful mix of all of these. I get the sense that Devilskin are reaching the peak of their career, and I can only hope they get similar recognition overseas than they do at home.
Highlights: Corrode, Do You See Birds, The Victor
Red is out now and can be purchased here.