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Devilskin - We Rise

Devilskin - CD Review
We Rise







CD Info
15 Tracks
English Lyrics

Since the main emphasis concerning most Metal Bands is centered in Europe and North America, it is difficult for many bands from other areas of the world to be discovered and promoted. Even though, it is not as it once was, due to the advances in technology (internet, YouTube, etc.), a lot of the bands have trouble getting recognized and have to really promote themselves. So it is nice when you get to discover a group like the four piece Hard Rock Band, Devilskin, from Hamilton, New Zealand. They released their debut album, “We Rise,” in July, and I find it to be an appropriate title. This album grabs you by the throat from the opening song, through the whole album, and it feels like it is still there after the end (in a good way). You are taken on a journey, the trait of a good album, whether it is the Rock Anthem, Rock Ballad, or just a simple Rock Song, The vocals showcase, both the belting out of a song to growling, all from the same person. I do have to mention that some lyrics are a “bit salty,” but if you are familiar with the band, you probably already know that.

Formed in 2011, three of the members were in other bands before joining forces in Devilskin. The lone exception is the drummer, Nic Martin, who joined in 2011. Nic is the son of the bassist, Paul “The Axeman” Martin (World War Four, ex-Knightshade, ex-Blackjack), making Devilskin one of the few father-son groups. Rounding out the group is Nail (Chuhanaut), I love the one name, on lead guitar and the amazing vocalist, Jennie Skulander (ex-Slipping Tongue). Another aspect of the band is that Nail and Paul could be mistaken for brothers as they are very similar in appearance. One can surmise that having previous experience in other bands, helped mold Devilskin, and the making of this album. The band is touring presently in New Zealand promoting the album.

One has to wonder why it took the group three years to make this debut album. Whatever the reason(s) may be, the time has simply made the album better. We Rise is self-descriptive, as this band is definitely on the rise. These musicians are well crafted in their genre, whether it is the hard driving guitar, the bass, or drums. All I can say about Jennie is that she shows a wide range of vocal abilities, whether growling, belting an anthem, or a softer ballad. Several of the songs are very short and lead into the next song. The band maintains a high level of energy throughout the album, just like their live shows, as evidenced on social media including their videos.

The album opens with “Elvis Presley Circle Pit,” quite the interesting song name. The song opens with a short drum solo and then a driving bass guitar riff is repeated. The bass continues under Jennie’s crisp clear vocals, with a traditional rock beat in the drums. A distorted guitar joins the melody in the second verse and then the driving riff continues. Midway through the song, while the bass riff continues, the guitar plays a countermelody, the vocals change to a drawn out growl, which builds up to a nicely play guitar solo. Toward the end, the growl is repeated multiple times over the bass, before a nice duet part which ends the song almost in mid-sentence: (“Let these memories go way beyond their”). Some interesting lyrics include:

Yes the world is yours but you think yourself as no one else,
let it go
Yes the world is yours but you think yourself as no one else

“Little Pills” reminds me of the 60s and 70s with the drug experimentation. The guitar gives a feel of floating sound with a slight riff going up. Jennie’s voice portrays the emotion of the lyrics and the bass and drums combine to give the standard rock beat underneath. At times other group members join in to reinforce the lyrics and we get to hear a sample of her growling at the end. I am including a link to the YouTube video of the song which I believe gives you a good idea.

“Chainsaw” is the actual starting of a chainsaw as a lead-in to “Vessel,” which is a true rock song. An interesting song, it tells how a person might deal with problems, by drinking, which is not glamorized. Starting with a distorted guitar, and a straight snare drum pattern, the vocals enter with very clear lyrics. The instruments underneath change to a staccato type straight beat pattern, before the other band members join in. Jennie’s voice expresses some raw emotion and anger with the lyrics. Throughout the song, her vocal prowess is shown in how the words are held out. The interesting lyrics to me:

I’ll take this broken glass and warm up my insides
For all my dreams are forgotten once I arise
I’ll take this broken glass and warm up my insides
For this vessel, pour this vessel
Takes me higher, one more inside

The song “Never See The Light” opens with an extended bass solo, showing dexterity, and nicely played by Paul, with some monkey like sounds thrown in. Then there is the driving drum beat and short guitar solo before the vocals enter. Dealing with loss, whether family or friends, isn’t easy and the song is similar to a ballad but with a hard side to it. The song is a tribute to Shoki Kamishima, guitarist, and it is fitting that toward the end of the song, there is a long guitar solo, showing some nice finger movement similar to the bass in the beginning. Here is a link to video for this song.

There is a trilogy of songs dealing with abuse in some form. “Until You Bleed” is a hard rock song, the first dealing with abuse, and the instruments follow a driving, hard rock beat. Of note in this song, is the use of a 60s technique of a repeated lyric and matching instruments. There is the two note pulse much like the heart beat and the build up with the whole band. We also get to experience the growls which are tastefully done. The second song dealing with abuse is “Violation,” which tells of revenge against the abuser. It is preceded by “The Horror,” a short, freaky, almost Twilight Zone, X-Files, and any other scary film, etc., that you can think of. Most scary, is the repeated phrase, “Jennie’s got a cleaver.” With a hard driving rock beat, Jennie alternates between growling and regular voice. The anger and revenge is so evident in the lyrics and expressed vocally, that you can feel the anger in the performer. The third song “Cherophobia (The Failure in Me),” has “Covet” as a lead-in, which features a lovely piano solo. Right away in “Cherophobia” we have the driving bass and guitar before the vocals. Revenge is not pretty and this is quite apparent in the vocals and Jennie brings this out brilliantly. Seemingly out of place in this song is the addition of a string ensemble before the last chorus. We are treated to a very calm and soothing side of the song, almost like a release of the inner demons. The ensemble includes the following musicians: Joanna and Andrew Walters on Violin, Carly Worsfold on Viola, Nathan Stone on Cello, and Anthony Cleaton on Double Bass. I am including some lyrics from each of the songs to show the anger or in the case of the last song, the release:

What you want and what you need
Cause broken bones heal differently
They f**k you up, until you bleed
Cause broken bones heal differently “Until You Bleed”

I swing a cleaver from side to side
I’m breaking down what’s on the inside
I’m f***ing your insides
Hope it feels good, mother***er “Violation”

The breaking in me
The failure in me
The breaking in me
The failure in me is coming to pass the test, yeah “Cherophobia (The Failure in Me)”

Changing the tone and pace of the album are the three songs that would be considered ballads. These songs are “Fade,” “Surrender,” and “Burning Tree.” “Fade” has a very soft, folksy sound to it, and Jennie’s voice is very soft, a nice change from the other songs. The instruments have a softer sound to them and in the background you can hear the string ensemble. There is a nicely played guitar solo midway through the song. It is a sad song describing how we become invisible to others. “Surrender,” even though it has a harder bite to it instrumentally, would still be a ballad and the vocals are on the soft side. This song also features the guitar, with a solo that is longer and shows more dexterity. The third song “Burning Tree,” features a softness, which includes the string ensemble, and acoustic guitar. The drums do not enter until halfway through the song, and are muted. The song builds to a climax, with harmony vocals, and then fades away with the sound similar to the beginning. The lyrics are very telling here:

Because I’m just another one to fade
Yeah, just another one, blank face “Fade”

And we sail through the never,
Hold me tight, don’t leave me ever,
Hold on to our lover forever,
Love me now to lover surrender “Surrender”

Forgotten bitterly
Silent sympathy
Like teardrops on the screen
Our fears destroy all our dreams ”Burning Tree”

The other two songs on the album, including my favorite, would be true rock anthems. If “Dirt,” the final song on the album doesn’t become a standard rock anthem, I will be surprised. It has all the needed ingredients. With a bombastic opening of guitar and bass, the classic drum beat, and a wailing vocal part, we start the journey. Jennie’s voice comes across super strong and she easily matches the power of the instruments. In the third verse, there is a duet that is nicely performed. The song continues with a back and forth between the band and Jennie until we come to the mantra chanted by the band multiple times. A part is added by Jennie of “ooooh, no, no,” and then the chant continues while she sings the chorus over it, until the song ends with the chant sung once. The chorus lyrics:

Dirt (dirt)
Just dirt is all we are,
There is nothing that you can do,
Well, we’re swept into a different shape, every day
We’re still dirt in every way, yeah

“Start a Revolution,” my favorite song, speaks of apathy and mediocrity that is prevalent in today’s society, and how we need to rise against it. What makes it interesting is the phrase, “When I get up in the morning.” Opening with synthesized chords, drums, a high pitched guitar joins right before the vocals. The vocal part drives the song and the instrument match note for note. Each time before the chorus we have the repeated guitar part. Another highlight for me is hearing Jennie go back and forth between growling and singing effortlessly. In addition, in the one part, she does a part that sounds like growling rap. With my job, this song struck a chord with me, because I deal with a younger group of people, who tend to be apathetic at times. The whole idea of wanting to change things, but we’ll do it later, is expertly brought out in this song. I think that Jennie in a straightjacket in a padded room gives an interesting twist to the song. A link to the YouTube video is here.

“We Rise” is a must for any true Hard Rock fan. For their debut album, Devilskin has created a masterpiece that exudes energy, an emotional rollercoaster of lyrics, and some truly outstanding music. Despite some salty lyrics, which fit the emotion and tone of the songs, the band clearly proves that they should and will be a force in the Hard Rock Genre. Also unique for Devilskin is that there is an abundance of energy in their live performances and they managed to bring that enery to this album. Whether it is Jennie’s vocal contributions, growling or clear lyrical singing, the driving bass of Paul, a rhythmic beat pattern of Nic, or Nail’s withering guitar riffs, this band shows that they are ready to be recognized for their music writing and performance. May this band continue to “rise” and I look forward to hearing more from this band in the future. Additional information may be found at the following links:


9.5 / 10