Album Review: Devilskin “Be Like the River”
New Zealand metal band Devilskin recently released their sophmore album “Be Like the River”, following up their Platinum selling 2014 album “We Rise”. I’ve been wanting to so a solid review of this album, but have been sitting on it because having issue coming to a strong opinion in either direction. My problem is this: Jennie (vocals), Paul (bass)n Nic (drums), and Nail (guitar) are all solid musicians. They play well, and they play well together. Every track on “Be Like the River” is tight, musically. Being a family act (all are related by blood) certainly helps this, and their closeness is exhibited in their musicianship. Unfortunately, the minute Jennie started singing, all I could think of was Maria Brink, in a “If I wanted to listen to In This Moment, I’ll simply listen to In This Moment” sort of way. The tone, the occasional (and well placed) warble, the sugary sweetness balanced by an incredibly aggressive, gutteral scream and growl, it’s all there.
The track “FYI” immediately made me think of “Blood” and “Whore” by ITM, with the tone and repetition of Jennie’s screaming throughout the chorus, and from then on the similarity between the alternating sweet crooning/primal screaming was all I could here. The bass in a lot of tracks seemed to be lacking, not giving songs the driving urgency and oomph needed (though, to be fair, this could just be a personal listening issue, as I’m only able to listen via my phone while putting together a new computer). “Voices”, one of the deeper and slower tracks on on the album, was my favorite. Slowing everything down, Jennie’s voice was allowed to breath, showing off an incredible range to fullest extent. With less aggression-to-sweetness switching, this track didn’t draw as direct a comparison to Brink, enabling Jennie to finally stand on her own. She’s a great singer, and I want more of her to shine through.
Overall, Devilskin, as a band, is solid. Great guitars, incredible drumming, and being able to copy Maria Brink’s aural assault is no small feat. It’s difficult to say anything explicitly “bad” about “Be Like the River”. But every time I listen I couldn’t help feel it sounded a bit of a retread of what has been done already, and done a little bit better, by others. It’s a good, if forgettable, album; a solid sophmore record that shows promise for what’s to eventually come.