Not That Device: NWOBHM Revivalists Channel True Divey ’80s Rock Club Grit
Starting a review with a disclaimer might put some on guard, but the following needs to be said; this is not that Device. The unfortunate band with David Draiman that comes up when you Google “Device?” No, I am not down with that sickness. This Device is a delightful trio of gentlemen who’ve managed to make a Manilla Road album better than the one the actual band recorded last year. Those who cling to Ghost to give them that divey ‘80s rock club grit can finally let go and admit they’re fooling themselves. There’s actually a band that does it well now.
With smoke-ravaged vocals that equal the best of NWOBHM screechers and racing guitars highlighted by peaks of speed, psych, and even doom, Device’s eponymous album is like UFO as interpreted by Motorhead. Though that’s a lot of comparisons in barely two paragraphs, Device still manage to sound original in the span of eight songs. While it’s easy to mimic a sound and call it an homage or inspiration, Device introduces a new nostalgia while giving classic ‘70s-‘80s heavy metal in a 2014 outfit.
“Don’t Mess With Texas” starts off the album and sets the tone for the rest of it. It has a swaggering attitude of punk-ass nonchalance (as expected from the title), and then the harmonizing guitars give a tip of the hat to the sweet lilt of Thin Lizzy. But instead of Phil Lynott we get a Rob Halford / Axl Rose hybrid that can gruffly spit out the lyrics then turn around and scream them at a pitch that would cause others to pass out. Man, can he can hit those notes, especially in the nasal, Ozzy-like whines of “Defiant.” Again, this is another song filled with snatches of other beloved bands but the changes in melodies allow for unexpected elements that make it unique.
The third track, “Lost My Soul,” is probably my favorite. It’s “Ace-of-Spaces” reined into organized chaos. It’s the sort of song that packs clubs and arenas and used to land bands covers on NME. “Medusa” and “Miracle Mile” run the gamut from classic rock n’ roll to calculated, technical speed metal in the course of a song while “City of Refug,” brings the focus back to drawling, psych-rock. “Enemy’s Blood” is basically a regrettably rejected Accept track and “Am I The Iceman” is the obligatory slow doom song. The final track, “The Devil and the Shoemaker,” is the longest, clocking in at almost eight minutes. It is a sum of the all the songs that came before it, tipping melodies in deference to all of Device’s influences and concluding the album much like an essay would; going over all the previous points and stating, conclusively, exactly who they are without meandering too far off course.
While Device might sound like a who’s-who stew of every respected British band from thirty years ago, they still manage to escape Her Majesty’s tethers enough to create an album that successfully updates a stagnant scene. Is it any coincidence they’re Canadian?
Device’s self-titled album was released on July 26th. Stream and order it at their Bandcamp.