Devil to Pay – Fate is Your Muse (09 April 2013, Ripple Music)
I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT.
Anyone that read my reviews yesterday will be able to deduce what I’m talking about. My head is killing me, my entire body is aching, and overall I pretty much feel like a zombie. Accordingly, I feel like listening to something very pleasant this morning. Here’s what I came up with: an album (another one that ranked on my best-of-2013-list!) with a central theme (at least, as far as my tired mind can ascertain) about how you’re going to die someday and there’s nothing you can do about it. Furthermore, a recurring concept is that of being a born loser, unlucky at everything, and not being able to do anything about that either because it’s all pretty much dictated by fate. Just warms the heart right up, doesn’t it? Here’s Fate is Your Muse, the fourth full-length by midwestern heavy psych/blues/stoner/sludge metal band Devil to Pay, which came out just over a year ago, about a decade or so into that band’s career.
Some bands are great at writing riffs, but then seem to forget how to put them together into an interesting song. Some bands are great at coming up with nice melodies and stuff, but then they fall short when it comes to giving you something to really sink your teeth into. But it can be rare to find somebody who seems to understand all the different aspects of songcrafting and who is also able to put them into good use. a couple examples that immediately spring to mind are Low Man, who I happen to enjoy very much (and who you may remember me writing about a while ago), and to some extent Graveyard (especially on their second album which ranked among my favorite releases of 2011) — they both tend to incorporate plenty of heavy bluesy riffs, while also possessing a strong sense of melody and therefore assembling some really catchy songs that’ll stick with you long after hearing them. And I think you’ll find, Devil to Pay would also fit into this category.
Right from the start, the band hits you with one of the strongest and most memorable songs in this collection, “Prepare to Die.” With its quick-paced 6/8 heavy two-step rhythm, the song immediately draws you in and sets you in motion — and then that chorus with its hooky melody, which incidentally brings to (my) mind a bit of the classic rock masters of melody and harmony The Guess Who (something about how that chorus melody is structured sparks an association with a song like “Undun”). Elsewhere on the album, still set against a backdrop of riffs that alternate between heavy/chuggy and nimble/dancey, we find melodies and harmonies that elicit perhaps a hint of Tiny Music-era Stone Temple Pilots, but most prominently (in certain spots) I hear echoes of Alice in Chains (especially in the excellent track “Yes Master,” although here the band employs super-slowed-down riffs, like grunge by way of sludge, in a similar style to Venezuelan band Cultura Tres, another favorite of mine, whom I’ve also had some things to say about in the past).
I don’t know how useful it is to just string together a list of other bands that I’m marginally reminded of throughout this record — because it’s not like Devil to Pay really sound that much like any of these folks. Except the Alice in Chains/Cultura Tres thing; that’s definitely real. But the point I’m trying to get across is, if you’re looking for some head-nodding, energy-filled jams, but with hooks and harmonies that’ll sink their claws into your brain — in a combination like many of the bands I’ve mentioned have achieved — then this is a great record for you to check out.
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