Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Devil City Angels - Debut Album

For some time now I have been talking to people about a band that I saw for the first time in 2014 at a place called "Catfish Bend."  I began talking about the skill of this band and the pedigree that follows it and while I would mention that I promised them that when the band released its first album they would understand.  Would I be right?  To paraphrase the old adage "the Devil is in the details."

I saw the Devil City Angels last year with the lineup of Rikki Rockett (drums - Poison), Eric Brittingham (bass - Cinderella), Tracii Guns (guitar - LA Guns) and Brandon Gibbs (lead vocals / guitar - Gibbs Brothers) when they started a small tour jamming to crowds of various sizes and I was intrigued.  The firepower of those four guys had the makings of a "supergroup" if you will and as Gibbs promised an album soon, I was excited.  Gibbs expressed the fact that the album would be made up of all new material so it really had the makings of excellent music.

As the release date of the debut Devil City Angels album approached it was learned that Brittingham had left the band and Rudy Sarzo (bass - Quiet Riot / Ozzy / Whitesnake / etc.) had replaced him.  Sarzo is a legend on bass, he is one of the most talented bass players to have ever picked up the instrument and although Brittingham is missed Sarzo will not miss a beat.

On September 18th, 2015 Devil City Angels released their self-titled debut album on Century Media Records to the masses and it's release was highly anticipated.  As I picked up my copy at Moondog Records in Dubuque, Iowa I was curious to see what the melding of the minds of the four members would create.  The most obvious observation I made as I began listening was how much it reminded me of the '80's hard rock world mixed with a bluesy undertone.  So much of the album sounds like that era mixed in with those '70's bass riffs.

Right from the get go the first track "Numb" takes you to that '70's feel with a funky bass line intermixed with some of that darker metal like feel of LA Guns.  In a song that is reminiscent of a poppy / bluesy '70's song is "All My People."  That track takes you to that place in music history where rock was pop but it is a great song.  "Boneyard" is a track that has that happy, toe tapping beat with a chorus you will sing for days.  Although I haven't written about the performance yet I saw Brandon Gibbs perform on September 26th, 2015 and in the crowd I heard people say that "Boneyard" was their favorite song on the album and it is close to mine as well.

The power and skill of Guns is no more apparent than on the track "I'm Living," a song that also has that '70's vibe and catchy chorus.  This could be one of those songs that becomes a crowd favorite and will take the band a long way.  Within the song "No Angels" is that anthem song that kind of defines the band I think.  Its bounce-tastic, and will take the listener to that happy place in the rock wheelhouse that every fan wants to experience.

"Goodbye Forever" is that ballad-type of song that filled every '80's hard rock / metal album but it is not a typical ballad from that era.  It has a country feel to it, mixed in with a bluesy sound but it is destined to become that sad love song created by bands like Poison and Cinderella.  I have no doubt that this will transport you back into that realm all over again.  The first time I heard the song "Ride With Me" for some reason I immediately found myself comparing it to "Wheel in the Sky" by Journey but the songs stands on its own merits.  This is definitely a bass line that you would expect from that era while having that ever present blues / country like feel.  Great song!

The '60's were a turbulent time in music with genres being absorbed into other genres and new genres appearing but one song that always seems to make me forget all of that is "Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits and the song "All I Need" has that feel to it.  It's bouncy, catchy and memorable.  Through that description "All I Need" will be that hidden favorite song of even the hardest rock fan.

One of the most interesting things I found about the debut album of the Devil City Angels was the fact that the song "Back to the Drive" was included on the album.  The song was featured on the 2006 Suzi Quatro comeback album called oddly enough "Back to the Drive," but the only similarities between the two songs are the lyrics.  I think that DCA version of the song is stronger, reminding me a little bit of the band The Sweet.  Its a great song and really shows the range of Gibbs' voice.

As the first riff of the final song "Bad Decisions" erupted through my speakers I immediately heard that Rikki Rockett influence in an almost "Unskinny Bop" like bass line.  The song quickly transformed into the feel of the KISS classic "Watching You" and Gibbs vocals really emulates those of Gene Simmons in the song.  This song really has that feel of the dirty '70's - '80's metal scene.  This could be my favorite song on the entire album.

The debut album of Devil City Angels is really one of exceptional success.  Each song that lies within the release is done to the highest possible level and at the same time it shows the skill of the members of the band as songwriters and musicians.  Although the current iteration of the band does not include Brittingham this album does and it reflects the skill and brilliance of his bass work.  As the stars align the band itself should attain huge success and any further works that the band puts out will have to be even better than those in this release.  I would bet that this band can and will achieve the success it deserves.

This album is the culmination of the dreams for any band, live or on the radio this music will remain fresh and powerful.  I never thought I would see the era of '80's hard rock / metal become reborn but I think Devil City Angels may have done so.  You have to check out this album. 

Rating:  8.5 out of 10.

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