Returning with their fourth album Fate Is Your Muse, Indianapolis rockers Devil To Pay continue to feed the hunger for rich powerful and impacting rock n roll. Combining the richest essences of heavy intensive rock with fires of stoner and sludge flaming intensely within, the album is an irresistible feast of perfectly sculpted sounds muscular and evocative. It offers what you expect from the band and the genres they seed their creativity within but delivers it with an enterprise and near hypnotic embrace which can either squeeze the breath from the lungs or mesmerise out a submission to its inventive lures, often combining both in a singular blaze of sinewy seductive persuasion.
Formed in 2002, the band has ridden numerous obstacles as they drove forward. A year after forming, Devil To Pay saw vocalist/guitarist Steve Janiak hospitalized after a medical emergency and placed in a drug induced coma. Despite the grim prognosis of doctors, Janiak came through despite being besieged by visions and hallucinations from the ‘other side’ because of it and the band strode on to release debut album Thirty Pieces of Silver the same year. Creating a strong response for the album the band hit the touring road and despite the setbacks of dissolving record labels, a continual change of rhythm guitar players, tour van breakdowns, and a lack of proper distribution the quartet released their second full length Cash Is King in 2006, to be followed by the acclaimed album Heavily Ever After and the DVD 48 Minutes both in 2009, all self-released by the band. The year before the third album Devil To Pay found guitarist Rob Hough who joined founders Janiak, bassist Matt Stokes, and drummer Chad Prifogle, and for many the moment when things truly clicked for the band as Heavily Ever After readily proved. Released via Ripple Music, Fate Is Your Muse is a powerful return and though it arguably does not markedly improve on its predecessor, the album is easily its match and partner in cementing the potency of the band, both releases thought provoking and passion inciting temptations.
Within a breath opener Prepare To Die easily captures the imagination, its striding riffs and muscular rhythms ridden by the excellent tones of Janiak, his gravelly vocals shaping the lyrical narrative with compelling expression and varied textures. The track is an infectious stomp which shifts upon its core intent with magnetic teasing from the guitars and roaming bassline, but from first note to last it is a direct and forceful riff fuelled thrill marking an anticipation for the album ahead though the band are not slow in offering open diversity starting with its successor. Wearin’ You Down is a slow burn of incendiary blues kilned riffs and classic rock swagger all slowed to a Clutch/Orange Goblin like consumption. Sonically pungent and fiery to the touch, the track is a hypnotic inducement with little respect for clean living or restrained peace.
The heavy opening prowl of Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife comes next and immediately the track stakes claim as the major highlight of the release though it is continually challenged and equalled elsewhere. The song soon slips into a more urgent gait with the vocals a boisterous expulsion of passion within the charged and energetic stomp of the groove littered treat. A rampant beast with the wares to recruit the most resistant of passions, the song is a QOTSA plays Down type of glory which switches intensity and heat at a blink of a note and with that deliciously contagious insidious groove breaking free at times, the song is rock manna for the heart.
The likes of Yes Master with its mix of intensive progressive rock, weighty riffs, and expressive Soundgarden like shadows, the bluesy stomping Already Dead, and Black Black Heart with its hungry energy yet restrained patience to pounce on the senses, bring further variation to sound and intensity as well as like all the songs a greed to satisfy and ignite the passions, which all do with ease and skilled tenacity. Amidst this trio is This Train Won’t Stop, a track which leaves an exhaustion and grinning pleasure in its rampant wake. As furious in pace and intensity as its title suggests and as heated, the song is a riot of fatiguing riffs and frazzling sonic invention all within a juggernaut of rapacious energy and melodic enterprise. The best track on the album it is animated rock n roll at its very best.
Right through to its completion the album inspires the passions with tracks such as The Naked Truth and the heavy groove laden Mass Psychosis raising major sparks within, though it is fair to say every track achieves that. Simply Fate Is Your Muse is a mighty encounter offering massive rewards for every rock soul’s melodic horizon.
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