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I had been eagerly waiting for the chance to listen to this album (project?) since I first heard of it. Although some of you might be under the impression I feel particularly attracted to super bands or whatever you wanna call’em, truth is such gatherings rarelly get any kind of attention from me. The reason? They’re normally over rated, over priced and over expected… One needs only to listen to Satriani’s Chickenfoot for 30 seconds to know exactly what’s about to happen for the next hour, for instance.
Nobody would – or at least should – ever doubt Joe’s proficiency and influence, just the same way no-fucken-body could ever take this seriously. My point here is that projects that encompass more than one too well-known musician in their line-up are normally given hard times when being critiqued, and that’s probably never gonna change. Kill Devil Hill, the album, ain’t gonn’be an exception.
Let’s face it, gathering ex-Pantera and Down bass player plus ex-Sabbies and Dio drummer is not saying little, mainly in the base and rhythm department. I’m totally unfamiliar with the other two guys. So, a super rhythmical groovy motherfucking beast we’ve got, uh? Not… quite. In fact, the album has its moments but it gets to feel sort of weak at some others. I hate to admit this, yet I felt a little disappointed. Again, If only my expectations had not been THAT high!
The record takes off with “War machine” which is frankly deceiving at first; based on what I first listened to, I seemed this was going to be more like a technical kind of metal. Instead what these guys delivered is some form of grunge rock which resembles groovy southern heavy stuff at times. Actually, the more they slow down, the better for me, at least when it comes to this particular work. The problem, I think, is that very frequently they sound as a generic almost preppy modern hard rock band, and nobody needs another of those acts.
Make no mistake; there’s some quality here. For instance, while I was expecting killer bass lines, Rex’ work is rather discreet, and instead one gets to listen to some memorable guitar solos and even a couple remarkable choruses. Sadly, that’s about all there’s to it.
All in all, it’s not a bad record, but of course I was expecting much, much, MUCH more. If I were to recommend some songs here, those would be “Gates of hell”, “Rise from shadows”, “We’re all gonna die”, “Strange” and “Old man”. By the by, even though the idea behind the cover ain’t terrible, I found the result (surprise!) a little too generic. Hopefully, their next work will be better. Much better.
—Originally written for www.globaldomination.se
Bassist Rex Brown and drummer Vinny Appice have gotten a lot of respect for respectively contributing to legendary groups like Down and Black Sabbath, but they’ve both done more following than leading over the course of their careers. Now that they’re free agents, the rhythm section has come together with a few lesser-known players and put out a promising debut in the form of Kill Devil Hill.
While Kill Devil Hill doesn’t have the most complex approach, their style is rather odd in that it is right at the meeting point between grunge, groove, and doom metal. The atmosphere is dark, the riffs are sludgy, the tempos and aggression vary, the songwriting is pretty accessible, and the attitude really gives it an early 90s feeling. Simply put, Kill Devil Hill is what would happen if you put Cowboys From Hell, Dirt, and Cross Purposes into a blender and gave the resulting slop a modern day production job.
Rex and Vinny may be the most famous musicians here but the production ends up favoring the performances of one-time W.A.S.P. guitarist Mark Zavon and Pissing Razors vocalist Dewey Bragg. Despite being practical unknowns, Zavon and Bragg excel as the former overwhelms the mix with his thick Iommi tone and the latter’s downtrodden croon channels a mix of Phil Anselmo and Tony Martin. But with that said, the bass and drums do get to keep prominent spots in the mix and get to shine on several occasions.
Going along with the style combination, it’s only inevitable that the songwriting is all over the place and obvious about the band’s influences. The doom-oriented songs provide the most interest as “Gates Of Hell” channels the foreboding melodies of Sabbath’s “The Eternal Idol” while the murky “Time And Time Again” could’ve been on the most recent Alice In Chains release. “We’re All Gonna Die” is also worth noting for its ironically catchy chorus and pounding riffs.
There are also a few upbeat tracks thrown in to balance things out. “Voodoo Doll” is the most memorable track of its type and ends up sounding like an odd cross between Pantera’s “Psycho Holiday” and something from Facelift. The others aren’t as quite as hard hitting though “War Machine” starts things off on a pretty fast note compared to everything else here. But the most unique track is “Mysterious Ways” by far. Serving as the token ballad of the group, the acoustic work should be quick to remind one of old Alice but its two-minute duration leaves one wanting a little more development. Think they’ve got a Jar Of Flies-styled EP planned?
This isn’t the deepest of releases but Kill Devil Hill’s debut has a good share of fun songs and a promising future ahead of them. Some may find the band’s sound to be excessively derivative and they probably could’ve trimmed a track or two, but fans of the bands I’ve mentioned are strongly advised to give this a listen. If anything, this should hold you over if those groups keep taking their sweet time…
“Gates Of Hell”
“Rise From The Shadows”
“We’re All Gonna Die”
“Time And Time Again”
Originally published at http://suite101.com
With the names that are part of this band, Kill Devil Hill obviously awakens in me and probably in every listener, that kind of curiosity that is an essential part of the human being. Of course part from being metalhead, and as a reviewer, fan, and person who appreciates metal music in almost every form, this album left me gratefully surprised and satisfied.
Rex Brown comes from a band that has never appealed to me. Pantera has never been one of my favorites, and even making me think there’s something wrong with me. His band mate, Vinny Appice, is clearly one of the greatest drummers alive today, the other two I regretfully have never heard of.
Musically this band is pretty cool, because they maintain the simplistic form of drum-guitar-bass-vocals, and for a simplistic method they sound good as hell. The riffs obviously for every listener will bring you back some Sabbath stuff, showing that this Mark Zavon has a lot of talent, combining tempos, mixing rhythms and executing very decent solos; the percussion part is pretty good, Appice does a job that has always being one of his characteristic: professional, high class, and loud!; Brown has strong bass lines, even bringing Pantera memories (the good ones), keeping the structure of the songs, and showing that time hasn't passed him by, even when his health says otherwise; the most uprising part for me was the vocals, this Dewey Bragg, completely unknown for me (and probably for many readers), but after listening to him it’s like Layne Staley wants resurrect. His voice is simple, but has so much feeling that makes me sing along (that doesn’t happen too often just ‘cause my voice is horrible).
All in all, this band is just starting, has a lot of talent, professionalism, and clearly an excellent production, just according with the names here (the know ones). This album is exactly for people like me, always asking for something new, something decent, and hell… something good.
Written by me in Metal Temple: http://www.metal-temple.com/site/catalogues/entry/reviews/cd_3/k_2/kill-devil-hill-self.htm.