Wednesday, 21 November 2012

At Devil Dirt - Chapter II "Vulgo gratissimus auctor" (album review)

At Devil Dirt is a two-piece stoner band from Chile, they describe their sound as "Simple, Drums, riffs and melodic vocals, sometimes screams..."  Their second album is a good times record soaked in lazy multi-tracked harmonies and a fuzz tone so thick you will swear the world is being slowly ripped apart.  Amazingly that fuzz tone comes out of a guitar, not a bass.

We've all got a favorite food.  That thing you could consume every day and never get sick of.  The two guys in the band (Néstor "Gato" Ayala (Guitar/Vocals), Francisco "Hongo" Alvarado (Drums)) employ a simple formula, take three cups of deep-tone fuzz and mix with three cups of melodic multi-tracked vocal harmony and add a tablespoon of sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Serve daily.  On paper, it shouldn't work but it does.  It would be so easy to get the formula of 11 songs, two instruments, 47 minutes wrong, that these guys are going back to the well too many times, and yes there's a singular vision, a signature sound throughout, but there's enough variation to keep things interesting.  Each time I listen to this album I have a new list of four favorite tracks.  Oh yeah, every song is a highlight.

The guitar tone, hooks and rhythms at times compares favorably to the best moments of Queens of the Stone Age's classic 'Songs for the Deaf' album.

Opening track "I am an Ugly Skin" showcases the band's mollases slow, Sabbathy side, the track absolutely drools thick streamers of fuzz and creeps evilly forward like a deranged beekeeper with a chainsaw.  And always there's the honied vocal melodies to draw you close.  That's when the tortured lyrics stick the blade between the ribs, as in "I Walk Aimlessly": "I don't know why you are laughing, I must confess, this really hurts."  The track also reveals the band's bluesy underpinnings with a harmonica wailing distant in the mix.

"Let It Flow" is another slowly spinning buzzsaw of a track.  When this band plays downtempo, the tracks extend over five and sometimes six minutes long, but they never feel drawn out because they retain a strict attention to song structure.  The trajectory of each song is focused, even while they do allow themselves the occasional jam moments.  "Unleash Your Anger" is another fine example of this.  "Let It Flow" is a great example of Gato's seemingly natural born ability to draft catchy melodic hooks with ease.  "That the Start Sweet Ends Bitter" is the band at its heaviest, thumping best a fitting close to the album that leaves the listener panting for more.

You will come for the fuzz but you will stay for the melodic hooks.

Highlights include: "Better the Devil You Know Than the Devil You Don't Know" and "I am an Ugly Skin"

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 47:12

From: Santiago, Chile

Genre: Stoner, Doom, Fuzz Rock, Desert Rock

Reminds me of: Kyuss, QOTSA, Sleep, Snail

Release Date: August 31, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Don't worry, that deep-tone fuzz you hear is just the radiation from the sun burning your eyes out and boiling your brain.

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