Devil You Know Don’t Live Up To Their Name (And That’s Good!)
For those of you who don’t check this website regularly, Devil You Know are a metalcore supergroup featuring vocalist Howard Jones (formerly of scene titans Killswitch Engange), guitarist Francesco Artusato (of hardcore sluggers All Shall Perish), and drummer John Sankey (ex-Devolved, who I’ve never heard of before now). The release of the band’s debut, The Beauty of Destruction, has been heavily publicized, in no small part because of Jones’ participation, which makes sense considering how massive Killswitch were at their peak. And that level of media attention, as well as the band’s name, all suggested that Devil You Know would be nothing more than All Shall Devolve The Killswitch, an uninteresting amalgamation of these musicians’ previous performances. And yet, Beauty is a surprisingly solid release by a band willing to both stick to its guns and forward its sound.
Make no mistake, there’s plenty of what you’d expect here. Harsh screams next to soaring clear-vocal choruses? That’s present. Guitar chugs overlaid with melodic leads? Absolutely. Double-bass-heavy breakdowns at every turn? You better believe it. But these elements have all been utilized in interesting ways rather than rehashed for the sake of selling records. Jones’ growls and rasps sound especially enraged and guttural, and his vocals rhythms have a solid stomp to them. Artusato’s guitar work leans more towards hardcore and modern melodeath than screamo; he provides ample attack and melancholy with his ax rather than the simple breakdown accents that choked the mid-2000s metlacore scene to death (there are still those, but come on). And though I’m unaware of Sankey’s work before this, he has officially won me over; the drumming on Beauty is tight, furious, and not too reliant on the crash.
The standout moments are easy to recognize: openers “A New Beginning” and “My Own” come in hard, heavily layered and produced to create an overwhelming sound. “Seven Years Alone” bursts out of its cell with fists wheeling. “A Mind Insane” starts a little traditionally, but picks up soon after, especially in its creepy layered chorus and the crushing bridge (man, Jones doubled high/low vocals are evil in this one). Some tracks are still a little teary for the wizened metalhead—“For The Dead and Broken” and “It’s Over” are basically metalcore ballads, and “Crawl From The Dark” and “I Am Nothing” sound like they were written to display to new bands how to create fashionable hard rock.
Approaching Devil You Know, one has an idea of what they’ll get, and to be fair, that material is present. What’s cool about The Beauty of Destruction is that said material is done harder, faster, and angrier than expected, which, given how many “supergroups” fall back on the members’ previous victories, is saying something. To be fair, I will most likely not roll around in my Honda blasting this record out of the windows. But I’d happily hand this album off to a young listener who feels a little tired of mainstream metal and needs something with a stronger bite.