Devilskin – Red
Released: 3rd of April, 2020
Jennie Skulander |Vocals
Tony ‘Nail’ Vincent| Guitar
Paul Martin | Bass
Nic Martin | Drum
Heading into my second week of self-isolation with a lot of extra time to write, I beg your indulgence.
Around 12 months ago I was hanging out with Wall Of Sound photographer extraordinaire and all around great guy Mick Goddard. We were readying ourselves for a weekend of heavy metal and alcohol in the form of Download Festival Sydney. Preparations had started by consuming what will remain an undisclosed amount of bourbon and listening to music. Mick hit play on a song and said: “You’ll like this”. What emitted from his speakers were heavy as fuck bass and guitar, with machine-gun like drums, all good so far. Then a feminine voice, smooth and powerful joined, seconds later she hit a growl that sounded like it’d come from the depths of hell. My head jerked up I looked at Mick, he just sat there, smile on his face with a look of “I told you so”. That was my introduction to Kiwi heavy metal sensation Devilskin. Admittedly I was about 9 years late, but better late than never and all that. Suffice to say I caught their set at Download, my mind was blown and it became one of my highlights of the festival. I dribbled something to that effect when I caught up bass player Paul Martin later in the afternoon. What I wanted to do was talk about Harleys and music, but I ended up blabbering about how good his band is – I’ll be way cooler next time.
So now a year later here I have their brand spanking new album Red in my hot little hands. Red they say is the colour of passion, vitality, danger and romance. It’s also the colour of warning, and in the case of Devilskin a warning that shit’s about to get real. The Kiwi four-piece waste no time as the opening salvo of ‘Do You See Birds’ is a brutal punch in the face. There’s no gentle easing into this song, Jennie Skulander’s unclean vocals come at you full force with savage brutality. Musically it’s a dirty grimy foot-stomper with a huge sound. Nail’s guitar has an evil almost Tony Iommi vibe matching perfectly with the vocals.
The third track and latest single ‘Corrode’ features more of Nail’s heavy, distorted bluesy riffs. This time Skulander’s delivery is clean, strong and faultless as the tempo slides back a notch or two. The verses march on restlessly before giving way to a soaring and soulful chorus, it’s easy to just close your eyes and get swept away in the dirty water.
The mix of old and new is a feature throughout the album, it’s something Devilskin have done in previous releases but I think they’ve really hit their stride on ‘Red’. Known as a hard hitting and heavy band but, not black and white. Along with the dark there’s plenty of light on this release. ‘Eyes Red Heavy’ is a perfect example of this. Soulful, atmospheric and dripping with raw emotion. The song begins gently and builds to a soaring crescendo. Clocking in at a touch over 5 minutes it’s also the longest track on the album and easy to become completely immersed. The soft acoustic outro eases you down like laying your head on a soft pillow, before ‘Same Life’ bludgeons you like a cricket bat to the face. It’s bass and drum heavy courtesy of Paul and Nic Martin with Skulander’s dirty brutal growl let loose again.
It’s hard to pick a stand-out song but I’m a sucker for a power ballad so ‘Sweet Release’ comes somewhere in my top 5 songs on Red. Power ballad is probably not doing the song justice, but with the gentle underlaying bass groove and soulful vocals the band resists the urge to let rip and delivers a refreshingly restrained performance.
That doesn’t last as the four crazy Kiwis belt out ‘Everybody’s High But Me’. It’s short, sharp, loud with lashings of old school punk rock and a good dose of humour.
No two songs are the same, but each one is 100% pure Devilskin. Brutal growls, Iron Maiden-esque bass lines, a thundering fat drum sound and enough shredding guitars to keep any heavy music fan happy.
At nearly 50 minutes there are far worse ways to spend the good part of an hour in isolation. And when you’ve done that, give it another listen and find even more reasons to love Red.
Devilskin – Red tracklist:
1. Do You See Birds
2. All Fall Down
4. Eyes Red Heavy
5. Same Life
6. The Victor
7. Blood Bone
9. Bright Lights
10. Sweet Release
11. Everybody’s High But Me
12. Be Like The River