This record that I’m about to feature has definitely been a labour of love. It’s been in the works in one form or another for years, with the band undergoing line-up change after line-up change but finally… here is the debut album from Devil’s Dice; Libertarian.
For those of you who are interested in that kind of thing on this album Devil’s Dice are Matt Gore of imitation axe wielding, Mighty Wraith fame (Vocals) David Clark (Lead & rhythm guitar, bass, drum programming) and Chris Webb. (Lead & rhythm guitar, drum programming)
Much like The Nics’ EP that I reviewed yesterday this album feels like the band have just made the record that they wanted to make. There’s no chasing fads, no trying to be the next big thing, by the sounds of it the guys just hit the studio and made music which they like, and the result is a slice of hard rock and metal straight from 1986 for 2015. The 80’s vibe is real strong my friends.
Sprawling opener Feed The Flames is the track which tells you all you need to know about this band. It’s got a great old school feel, powerful vocals and absolutely killer solos. That is Devil’s Dice in a nutshell and that is exactly fine by me. I mean how can you hate on a band which puts two monster guitar solos in the opening song on their album? The correct answer is that you can’t ladies and gentlemen.
After a shot rolling drum intro Passive Resistance is straight up in your face. I wasn’t a huge fan of this song when I first heard it but after a few spins and after I cracked the volume a little bit I got it. That thundering rhythm got under my skin and into my head and now it’s definitely one of my favourites on the album. By comparison I found the first half/ ¾ of I Walk Alone pretty lacklustre. The song kicks on in the final section but even then it’s more solid that spectacular. Sometimes you get songs that for some reason just don’t click with you and this is definitely one of those.
This proves to be only a mirror wobble though as the guys are straight back on top form with Forbidden Memory. Drenched in 80’s nostalgia this slow and winding ballad is definitely my favourite track on the album. The intro is a slow one with a sparse guitar melody drifting and swirling in and out of view. Everything strips back for the verses before ramping up for the chorus and what is an absolutely exquisite guitar solo. This has got ‘Whitesnake in their prime’ stamped all over it, and I love it.
Proceedings are then rocketed back up a few notches as after a long building intro the album’s title track fires into life and never looks back. The geek in me absolutely loves the drums on this song, they sound so thick and hit ridiculously hard. All round it’s another great track. Chameleon (Right About You) is a dirtier and grittier affair all round with the main riff sounding like it’s just been pulled out of the gutter. (In a good way of course) I’m a big fan of how prevalent the bass is in this song which you don’t get enough of these days and the Thin Lizzy-esque duelling guitars which make an appearance will always be a cause for a smile in my book.
By the time that we get to Hour Of The Wolf and Destiny Calling it feels like the band have really hit their classic rock stride. Both tracks are exactly what you want at this stage, neither are mind-blowing but they are certainly good solid rock tracks. But that’s one of the big strengths of this album; it gives you exactly what you need when you need it. It’s got a great flow with all the peaks and troughs in all of the right places, you can tell that the band have actually thought about the track listing and how the record goes together.
Hangin’ On Too Long opens up with a cracking bass intro before launching into more of that duelling guitar action which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And once again, not that it should surprise you by now, the towering guitar solo on this tune is a thing of heard rocking, soaring beauty.
Penultimate track The Grudge is also another real highlight. The song feels edgier and more aggressive than much of what goes before it, but it’s a side of the band which I like and think that they could maybe explore more. The 2nd half of the song is just awesome, that intensity really goes up a level as the song goes out on a real high. Closing tune Matter Of Faith isn’t a particularly standout track in its own right but it’s more than solid enough and rounds out the album nicely.
All in all I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed reviewing this album and it’s one that I’m a big fan of. With the exception of I Walk Alone I can’t think of a song that I don’t really like, everything does exactly what I think the band wants it to do.
However, I completely understand if you don’t agree with me. There’s no escaping the 80’s influence and the fact that the album feels like a complete throwback. This is about as about as far away from the cutting edge as you can get, but personally I can’t talk the album down because of that, because that wasn’t their aim in the first place.
As a wise man once said Libertarian brings the noise. The vocals are powerful yet delicate at the right times, some of the rhythms which power the songs forward are out of this world and the guitar work is simply majestic. My advice; don’t think too deeply, don’t overanalyse, just enjoy the music, and if you do that I promise you that you won’t go too far wrong.