Album Review: Devilskin – Red

On April 3rd, New Zealand four-piece Devilskin will be releasing their new album Red. Devilskin started their career in Hamilton in June of 2010. They released their debut album in 2014, named We Rise, which peaked at first on the Official New Zealand Music Chart. The album was certified platinum a year later. Since then, they have toured with massive names like Slash, Halestorm, and Disturbed, and have released another two albums, and announced the release of Red in January of this year.

Devilskin are often described as alternative/ hard rock, and I think it’s definitely accurate to say that they’re a combination of both of these. However, the vocals could almost be described as falling into the category of death metal when she slips into the intense, growled lines. The vocalist, Jennie Skulander, has an incredibly strong voice, one that is reminiscent of other strong vocalist such as Lzzy Hale from Halestorm and Maria Brink from In This Moment, both of which seem to be influences in their music.

The entire album- promotional aspect from the band, the music videos thus far, etc., all seem to connect closely with this idea of the colour red. From this, you can tell already that you’re going to be listening to something full of intensely strong emotions- anger, desire, pain, they can all be linked back to the colour red.

This is proved correct by the first song, “Do You See Birds”. The opening sound is a single riff played alone – it’s quiet, and only played two or three times. Then, it’s like a switch is flipped. The sound gets louder, drums and bass added, and then Skulander comes in. She enters with an almost growled out line. When you listen to her, you can’t help but be impressed by the skill she has in controlling her voice. Throughout the song she switches between the growling tones and melodic bridges. The more aggressively, ground out lines reinforce this idea with the listener that they are truly listening to someone who is presenting their emotional patchwork on the table – a mixture of anger, pain, and something that almost feels like longing.

Going back to that opening riff, Nail (guitarist) follows the song through until about half way, where the drums and vocals seem to take a real hold over the complete sound. Then, at some point, it comes back into play and is a leading figure. It has been days, and I still can’t get the rapid, catchy riff out of my head. At the end, the song picks up into a whirlwind of instruments and sounds, before eventually fading out. This song is incredibly intense, and a perfect welcome to the album.

The next song is opened with what almost sounds like alarms, they fade in and out as more and more layers are adding to the song – guitar, drums, bass, and then vocals. In this track, “All Fall Down” the vocals seem significantly more emotional. Skulander opts more for the melodic singing than she does in the opening song. It’s hard to express in writing just how strong her voice truly is, she sings with such effortless power in a way that will gives chills down your spine. When she belts out the lines, it’s almost overwhelming how much emotion can be found in there.
Underlying her voice is usually a riff from the bassist, Paul Martin. It’s haunting, rapidly pumping through the song. It’s the a beautifully dark undercurrent to her voice and the guitar itself. The slow and deliberate playing of the drums by Nic Martin encapsulate the paranormal feeling found in the bass and amplifies it.

The final song, “Everybody’s High But Me”, ends the album with a fast-paced showcasing of anger and frustration. It is a fusion of every possible vocal she could do – she flicks effortlessly between talking, growling, and belting out melodic tunes. The song starts you off with a short beat that could sound like rapid footsteps. Like almost every song on the album, it builds up into an intense rollercoaster of sounds and layers. The same layers that are stripped away whenever Skulander’s voice takes centre stage. The end of the song is built up with the track being only two minutes and forty seconds long – the ending begins to build at around two minutes. The title line is sung, and the last word is drawn out in a long growl, her screaming vocals carrying you into a combination of death-metal sounds, and her saying the line. The last word of the entire album isn’t sung, it is spoken. At the end of the song, all music and vocals stop suddenly. As if that switch that was flipped in the beginning has been flipped once more.

Overall, I think this is an incredibly strong album. The sequence of songs plays out in a way that takes you through an emotional journey – the feelings in it are almost as tangible as the physical album itself. Looking objectively, the title of the album and the artwork bring you into the hurricane of anger at first sight. The songs themselves are pleasing to the ear. They sound clean, polished, and the way the songs fade in and out at the ends mean the album connects throughout. The only criticism I might have is that the songs sometimes feel a little repetitive – they frequently have one riff that can be heard through the entire track. However, I believe that this can be overpowered by Skulander’s strong vocals, and the fact that the riffs are catchy enough that they will be stuck in your head for days on end. Red will be available to stream on all platforms on April 3rd, and I encourage anyone who is a fan of hard rock or bands such as Halestorm and In This Moment to check it out.

Red is out on April 3rd – grab it through Amazon to help support this site!

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