Friday, 8 March 2013

Deville - Hydra (album review)

Album cover by Alexander Von Wieding.  Photograph by Henrik
'Hydra' is Deville's third full-length album and first on Small Stone Records, it was also this reviewer's introduction to the band.  Right off the bat the album appears split down the middle between a heavyweight, hard-driving and muscular style of stoner rock and a more melodic, poppier side with more of a glittering sheen on it.  These apparent 'pop sensibilities' raise the eyebrows a little because I wasn't quite expecting what I heard.  Before I listened to the full album I made myself quite familiar with the aptly titled opening track "Lava".  It's an absolute barnburner of a tune.  A driving, straight-forward, single-minded, waterboard the listener with riffs kind of song ... and is in no way representative of the album as a whole.

Much of 'Hydra' is lathered with this clean guitar sound and vocal sensibility while laced with clean production as a whole.  To someone fully immersed in the often dirt-encrusted world of stoner rock, the effect of such tracks as "In Vain" and "Blood Crown" is truly striking.  "In Vain" finds the band muting their riffs both literally and figuratively for a streamlined chrome-tipped approach.  Deville showcase a deft ear for catchy, mass-appealing combinations of non-threatening rhythm and melody along the lines of the Foo Fighters' later, heavier radio hits.  The first hints of something a little different than what the average stoner rock or Small Stone Records fan is expecting come on "Iron Fed" and this musical direction only becomes more apparent as 'Hydra' plays on.  Even the non-painted cover art lets fans of the label know something a little different is going on here.

There's no real mystery as to how Deville are able to achieve their 'radio ready' sound.  Melodic vocals do the trick nine times out of ten.  It's something relatively few underground bands focus on, but Deville seem to concentrate on this aspect.  Dynamics make up the other ten percent and Deville are no strangers to that aspect of the music either.  None of this is negative criticism by the way

"Over The Edge" opens up the throttle on the band's more diesel smoke blowing, piston chugging heavy riffs as they begin to take center stage on each of the next few tracks.  Each on in turn bottoms out the low end a little further.  Chugging out a slow groove here, ripping a few faces off there and slamming listeners upside the head with two by fours of pounding pulsating rhythms are just some other aspects of what Deville does.  They've got their sweet and sour sides with both turned up to eleven.  Where the band really shines is when they combine the heavy with the melodic, as on the malefic "Burning Towers" or the thundering "Lava".

I admit it, I love the radio.  Well, that is to say, I love the idea of the radio and I wish I could tune in and listen to anything but the local classic rock station but I just can't.  When I'm forced to listen to the radio at work they don't really play rock n' roll on the local 'modern rock' station anymore, it's all 'Top 40 crossover' with nary a fuzzbox to be heard.  The local station plays a few good songs but by the time Alice in Chains comes on you've already tuned out.  In a fantasy world bands like Deville or any number of other Small Stone bands would be the vanguard of a movement towards rock taking the radio back.  Money is the roadblock, but in a fantasy world, there's no reason 'Hydra' wouldn't have mass appeal to rock n rollers of all stripes, Paranoid Hitsophrenic readers included.  As someone whose found this blog you don't necessarily 'need' Deville to be on the radio because you can hear them on the player below, but there's a world of rock n rollers out there who sure could use the head-ucation.

Highlights include: "Lava" and "Over The Edge"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 44:36

Andreas Bengtsson: Vocals, Guitar
Martin Hambitzer: Guitar
Markus Åkesson: Bass
Markus Nilsson: Drums

From: Malmö,Sweden

Genre: Stoner, Alt Rock, Grunge

Reminds me of: Foo Fighters, Greenleaf, Soundgarden, Truckfighters, Veracrash

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Better Reviews:
Temple of Perdition
Stoner Hive

Deville official website

Deville facebook

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