Distributor/Label: Right Track Records/Universal
Distributor/Label URL: http://www.righttrackrecordsanddistribution.com/
Buy Album: http://devilskin.co.nz/collections/all-devilskin-products/products/devilskin-we-rise-the-album
Band Website: http://devilskin.co.nz/
Jennie Skulander: vocals
Paul Martin: bass
Nic Martin: drums
- Elvis Presley Circle Pit
- Little Pills
- Start A Revolution
- Never See the Light
- Until You Bleed
- Burning Tree
- The Horror
- Cherophobia (The Failure In Me)
Combining a tidal wave of rock with a hefty dollop of metal and a seriously gutsy female vocal performance, the subject of this review are at once intriguing and exciting. New Zealand’s Devilskin formed in 2010 and have presumably been so busy honing their craft that they only got around to releasing their debut album We Rise in their homeland in June 2014. Said album duly smashed its way to the top of the charts and quickly went platinum, earning them critical acclaim and a swathe of fans. Fast forward nearly eighteen months and the album was finally released in Europe and the UK on November 6th. A long wait – is it worth it? Read on…
Opening track, the deliciously silly titled ‘Elvis Presley Circle Pit’ certainly pins their colours to the mast straight away, with its chugging riff and flares of violence and venom (particularly the “fuck yoooouuuuu!” refrain). Vocalist Jennie Skulander is quite a revelation: broadly similar to Christina Scabbia or Bad Pollyanna’s Olivia Hyde, her voice is soaring and ballsy, yet capable of melody and nuance, too. See? Intriguing!
Lead single ‘Little Pills’ follows, all raspy, punchy vocals and slinky beat, along with some brilliantly pissed off vocals (“take your shit and kindly leave” spits Skulander). This and third track ‘Vessel’ are more or less straightforward Antipodean pub rock, bouncy and brash with snarling guitars and a towering bass guitar/drum backbone. The addition of such a potent female vocal performance is their secret ingredient; their USP, if you will.
There are traces of influences peeking out here and there, from Eighties and Nineties rock to grunge and even NWOBHM (check out the racing beat and widdling guitars in the dripping-with-attitude ‘Until You Bleed’. Then there’s the ballads, which show the bands more melancholic, less vitriolic side. ‘Fade’ is plaintive and bitter, the ‘break up’ song which shows a rare chink in Skulander’s armour, with following track ‘Surrender’ seemingly the prefix to said break up (“hold on to our love forever” Skulander rasps over a treasure trove of powerful drumming). Then there’s ‘Burning Tree’, with its Nineties rock vibe, which has Skulander’s voice dripping with dark emotion as she laments “our fears destroy our dreams”.
It’s song number eleven, ‘Violation’, that really stands out as the highlight, however. Its buzzsaw riff and idiosyncratic Marmozets-style time signature, combined with Skulander’s meaty (and frankly terrifying) scream, create a dark and malevolent tune – more like this, please!
A few slightly unnecessary moments aside (the two bridging tracks and a rather puzzling a capella section in the otherwise excellent bluesy ‘Dirt’), We Rise is an absolute beast of a debut album. Dealing with break ups, broken dreams and deadbeat former lovers, it does so with a defiant ‘fuck you’ attitude and some serious fighting talk. Skulander’s vocals are a revelation: punchy, melodic and compelling, she injects every song with power and fortitude. The result is a debut album ripe with promise and rich with talent. They’ve already proven themselves a big fish in a small pond in their native New Zealand; with the album out in the UK and Europe and a tour being lined up for early 2016, Devilskin have the potential to grab a lot of people’s attention worldwide. Worth the wait? Definitely.
Review by Melanie Brehaut