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Devilfire – Black Soul Vendetta Award winner

Black Soul Vendetta
by Kenn Staub at 15 July 2020, 6:52 PM

With ZEPPLIN, SABBATH, and PRIEST all having emerged from the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham could arguably be considered the cradle of metal. NAPALM DEATH and GODFLESH arrived later, further bolstering the city’s hard-edged cred. DEVILFIRE’s second full-length album, “Black Soul Vendetta”, demonstrates that this band, a self-proclaimed “rock engine,” could be Birmingham’s next big thing, ready and willing to take on the responsibility of upholding the city’s metal tradition.

Produced and mastered by lead singer Alex Cooper, “Black Soul Vendetta” harkens back, in the best ways possible, to the late 80s/early 90s, when layered, melodically hook-heavy metal ruled the day. Tight, catchy rhythms provide the foundation of each track, serving to propel DEVILFIRE’s songs ever forward in an adrenalized, but unforced manner.

While drummer Lars Wickett and bassist Jamie Downes provide a driving beat, the guitar tandem of Baz Blackett and Kieran Topp avoid the histrionics of “guitar god” solos in favor of six string work that blends seamlessly to form catchy, rhythmically-rich songs.  By playing as a tight collective, the members of DEVILFIRE show that standing together is much better than standing apart when it comes to making an aurally pleasing album.

Black Soul Vendetta’s” opening track, “Cruelest Animal”, provides a glimpse of what is to come. Though featuring a very catchy instrumental hook, DEVILFIRE shows they can also bring the vocal harmonies. Obviously Cooper is the star of the show in this regard, but the backing vocalists complement not only his voice, but each other’s as well.

DEVILFIRE kicks it into overdrive on the album’s second track, “Chasing The Pain”, the embodiment of what a “rock engine” should and must be. Vocalist Eric Dover and multi-instrumentalist Ash Sheehan collaborate with the band to create a song that truly sells the listener on the group’s hard, glamish-tinged sound. I know I was sold!! Others must have been as well, considering the tune won the online readers’ vote to become one of Classic Rock Magazine’s “Tracks of Week” during May.

The undercurrent of “Chasing The Pain” leads nicely into the next track, “Live A Lie”, while things become just a tad darker on tracks four and five, “Vendetta” and “Dead Man Walking,” respectively. The guitar solo takes on more prominence during "Vendetta," complementing the song’s rhythm section rather than losing sight of what the band is laying down. Cooper’s vocals are a highlight of “Dead Man Walking”, standing out from the music and group harmonies more than on previous tracks.

DEVILFIRE’s first single off the album, the smoothly melodic “Dream Evil” is up next, followed by the guitar driven “Justify”. “Sell My Soul,” the only song not solely written by Cooper (Blackett shares writing credits), is a churning, steamroller of a tune that has a bluesy feel more in line with what one might consider “classic” metal. Cooper’s vocals again take center stage on the ninth track, “You’re Gonna Break My Heart”. A little slower than prior tracks, “You’re Gonna Break My Heart,” give you the opportunity to catch your breath before the final four songs.

What You Pay For” starts the album’s closing run. The following track, “Black Soul Bones,” is a definite throwback. It has a sleazy musical vibe, centered around dirty guitar riffs that evoke images of enjoying an evening in a darkened, low brow gentlemen’s club. In “Decadence”, the guitarist lets loose, cranking out a “rockstar” solo which, though it allows the player to show his chops, never sacrifices the melody of the song. The album ends with “Wasn’t It Love?”, an ode to the power ballad of yore that demonstrates DEVILFIRE have learned and perfected a staple of the genre. I don’t know if it was love as I listened to this album, but it was pretty damn close.

Black Soul Vendetta” is a well-produced album that reveals DEVILFIRE to be a tight, polished act. They eschew the mile-a-minute tempos, guttural singing, and thudding overt displays of power that seem to have become somewhat of the norm in favor of melodic, catchy, and readily accessible metal that will appeal to not only contemporary listeners but to those who fondly recall a more traditional form of the genre.

(DEVILFIRE have made several songs off “Black Soul Vendetta” available through their various social media outlets. The album is schedule for a full release on September 4, 2020.)

Musicianship: 9
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Cruelest Animal (3:27)
2. Chasing The Pain (3:58)
3. Live A Lie (3:33)
4. Vendetta (3:55)
5. Dead Man Walking (3:53)
6. Dream Evil (3:55)
7. Justify (3:52)
8. Sell My Soul (4:36)
9. You’re Gonna Break My Heart (4:53)
10. What You Pay For (5:11)
11. Black Soul Bones (4:37)
12. Decadence (3:54)
13. Wasn’t It Love? (5:30)
Alex Cooper – Lead Vocals
Baz Blackett – Guitars
Kieran Topp – Guitars
Jamie Downes – Bass
Lars Wickett – Drums
Record Label: Escape The Fire Records


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