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Whiffle Bill - 30%

DawnoftheShred, June 7th, 2013

Devolution is a textbook example of what Boris used to call “half-thrash” or “whiffle-thrash,” which is a deviation that takes thrash riffs and ideas and uses them in a backwards, wimpy manner. Even if I weren’t stating it, any reader can draw comparisons here to other albums accused of this, such as Exodus’ Force of Habit and Annihilator’s King of the Kill. Basic chugging riffs over simple (usually) half-time beats? Check. Neanderthal grade lyrics funneling primal aggression (usually) at “the system?” Check. Three or four riffs a song, all based off the same idea, creating (usually) a static one-riff feel? Double-check. Factor in a weak guitar tone, hollow drum sound, and the fact that it was released in 1994 (a horrid musical year for albums not entitled Divine Intervention) and we’ve got an album that has a lot in common with 90’s hardcore, and for the worse. The previous reviewer likens the sound to Pro-Pain and it’s no surprise: the three non-Milano members of the lineup here are former Pro-Pain members. While not as moronic as that band proper, it’s pretty close.

“Land of the Free” opens the groovy side and it works kinda well on its own, in a stupid catchy sort of way. Half-thrash defined with some weird Offspring-esque vocal bits (these continue to show up as the album plays). After this, it’s several more bonehead chuggers in a row just like it: if you listen to “Resist” or “The Angry Man” the whole way through once, you’ll never need to play ‘em again. The compositional process here tends to be very singular, and the songs start to run together, even when the tempo inexplicably picks up about halfway through the album. This next chunk of tracks almost have an old-school hardcore vibe to them, but they’re so similar to each other it kills the effect. “Crash n Burn,” “Super Touch,” and “Rock Tonite,” barring certain distinguishing marks, are effectively all the same song. No standout tracks to be found, no chuckle-worthy Milano outbursts. Not much of anything at all really, this is about as placid and boring as heavy music can get.

I guess Devolution plays alright if you’re listening to it through overpriced Ipod earbuds while you’re lifting weights at LA Fitness, or while chugging cheap ice beer with your bro-cefs, reveling in the afterglow of some very important college-level sporting event, or some other stereotypically douche-y activity. For most individuals in most applications, it’s as shallow as your little cousin’s inflatable pool. It’s currently better than any Pro-Pain album yet released and Milano isn’t rapping on this one, but that doesn’t mean it’s much more than mindless noggin-nodding at the expense of anything really creative or enjoyable.

Potential listeners should try a GWAR album from this period instead: the tracks are more varied and they still had a sense of humor going for them.