Devil City Angels
(Century Media Records)
The Urban Dictionary defines a 'nut-swinger' as 'someone who hangs from someone's nuts; someone who follows ever move they make'. As generalized and unspecific as such a description may be, it does accurately summarize my feelings for the collective members of Hard Rock Super Group Devil City Angels. Comprised of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Brandon Gibbs, guitarist Tracii Guns, bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Rikki Rockett, the group was initially spawned by Guns, Rockett and original bassist Eric Brittingham (Cinderella, Naked Beggars, Saints In Hell) after the trio performed together at a 2014 Ox And Loon show. Entering Patagonia Studios shortly thereafter, the group quickly assembled the material that would ultimately become their self-titled Century Media Records debut. Now officially poised to unleash their startlingly forthright craft upon a curiously unsuspecting public, the group appears destined for unabashed success. The question is, are we ready?
On the stellar Devil City Angels (2015), an expertly assembled ten song collection of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the maddeningly infectious first single “All My People” and the swaggering celebration of survival “I'm Living”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Deftly obliterating their few misguided detractors with an unusually efficient enthusiasm that belies their virtuosic tendencies, the group flexes their creative muscles early and often. Attempting--or so it would seem--to redefine the Super Group stereotypes (anyone remember the disappointingly lackluster Paul Rodgers/Jimmy Page collaboration The Firm or perhaps the Sammy Hagar, Neal Schon and Kenny Aaronson-led HSAS?), the group delivers a lyrical and compositional approach truly reminiscent of their dizzying 'heydays' without borrowing too heavily from their respective pasts.
Continuing with the obligatory Power Ballad “Goodbye Forever” and the retro Pop flavorings of “All I Need”, the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of Cheap Thrill vocalist/rhythm guitarist Brandon Gibbs, guitarist Tracii Guns (Brides Of Destruction, Hollywood Rose, L.A. Guns), bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake) and curiously-underrated Poison drummer Rikki Rockett steamroll ahead like the well-oiled machine they so obviously have become. Refusing to rely on the combined weight of their chart-topping, multi-Platinum reputations, the group effortlessly stomps, twists and turns through each carefully-crafted excursion. Driving home each key focal point via a seamless, multi-dimensional barrage of soaring vocals, razor-sharp riffs and solos and imaginatively punishing footwork, the group wastes little--if any--time engulfing both new and established listeners alike within a veritable avalanche of balanced sonic fury.
A self-Produced affair throughout, other standouts, including the hard-charging lament “Back To The Drive” and the equally impressive closer “Bad Decisions”, only further reinforce the group's burgeoning--yet well--deserved reputation as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored. With Poison now seemingly on hiatus (or, for that matter, entirely disbanded when taking into consideration the oft-all-consuming solo aspirations of frontman Bret Michaels), the group's exceedingly unique blend of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal offers both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike a glimmer of hope. Although the end result(s) of the group's more-than-considerable efforts are guaranteed to find themselves readily welcomed into the friendly confines of both satellite and terrestrial radio program directors, only time will tell if the genre's unpredictable and increasingly cash-strapped constituents can allow the group the opportunity for extended long-term success.
Believe me, I know what you're thinking. What really separates the mighty Devil City Angels--and, as a result, the group itself--from their contemporaries? Hooks. Mile after mile of maddeningly infectious, razor-sharp hooks delivered with a quasi-unparalleled precision. Love 'em or loathe 'em, this is quite possibly as good as it gets. While it's arguable that the group's decidedly distinct 'sonic variations' may not necessarily appeal to everyone (especially those without a genuine and sincere interest in all things Hard Rock and Hard Rock-related), one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their apparently ceaseless dedication to honing their already razor-sharp chops. As a result, if you've once again found yourself in search of a refreshingly melodic alternative to the painfully redundant, testosterone-laden din and clatter that is so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane remedy for what ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
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