Sunday, 10 January 2016

New Device's 'Devils on the Run' - EP Review

I am easing into 2016's musical reviews with the new EP from British hard rockers New Device. With two studio albums and a live album under their belts, frontman Daniel Leigh and his band of young rockers are back with their first EP, titled Devils on the Run. New Device were one of those hard rock bands breaking through in the late 2000s/early 2010s, and seemed tipped to make a bit of a name for themselves. Their debut album Takin' Over, released in 2009 by Classic Rock Magazine's short-lived record label Powerage Records, was certainly a statement of intent. The songs were anthemic, catchy, and well-produced; and seemed a sign of thing to come. Unfortunately it was four years later, which included some fairly drastic line-up changes, that the band's second album Here We Stand was released. Only drummer Greg 'Rozzy' Ison remained in the band with Leigh from the Takin' Over days, and the result was a much more modern-sounding album that was less memorable, but still very enjoyable. Here We Stand has a very cohesive sound, which makes it a strong release despite the songs not being as hard-hitting as those from Takin' Over. A live album, called Takin' Over London, was also also released last year and contained the band's entire debut album performed live at London's famous Borderline club. After a successful PledgeMusic campaign run last year (crowdfunding seems to be the in thing at the moment!), the band's new EP Devils on the Run was released a couple of days ago. Sound wise, it is very similar to Here We Stand, and the songs here could have come from the same sessions as those for that album. Guitarist Matt Mallery and bassist Nick Hughes also return from that album, as New Device now seem to have a relatively stable line-up despite losing second guitarist Nick Jones in between releases. This is clearly the direction that Leigh and co. want to take, and this EP perfects it futher from the groundwork laid on Here We Stand. While New Device have never broken through like it looked like they might, this EP shows that they are still producing quality music.

The EP opens with Hollywood Radio, the single choice and easily the strongest song here. An anthemic pounding drum pattern combines with Leigh's soaring lead vocal performance, as the band adds plenty of gang vocals to give the song a powerful feel. Mallery's guitars have a great chugging quality to them here, while simple leads are added over the top for that classic rock feel. The chorus is very catchy, with some excellent wordless backing vocals to back up Leigh's singing. A short, but sweet guitar solo adds some extra class to the track. This shows what New Device can do, and is a reminder of the powerhouse band they can be. Strung Out follows, and is also very strong. A proper riff drives the song's intro, and the verses are a little more relaxed with some understated guitar chords. Melodic guitar leads break through occasionally, and these lead nicely into the song's chorus, which is probably the most memorable on the album. Leigh's vocals are excellent here, and the wall of harmony vocals certainly helps to boost the sound throughout. Mallery's guitar solo is longer here, and more traditional with lots of fast but precise playing. A great one-two punch to open the EP! Devil on the Run opens out with a frantic bass and drum pattern from Nixx and Ison, that is quite different from the rest of the EP so far. Mallery's guitar creates ringing sounds with delicate arpeggios, before exploding with a solid power chord riff throughout the chorus which is driven by Ison's double bass drumming and Leigh's strong vocals. I like the contrast between the strange verses and the more traditional chorus, and showcases the best of all four members of the band. Back to You is gentler, with a sunny acoustic guitar verse and some heartfelt lyrics. For a ballad it is still pretty upbeat, with a nice jaunty drum beat that compliments the acoustic guitar chords well while Leigh sings. It gets a little rockier as it progresses, but the song remains, at it's core, an acoustic rock number - and it works well. After that little diversion, Revolution comes crashing in a flurry of quick drum patterns, slightly abrasive guitar leads, and plenty of gang vocals. This is a fast number, and works well following the previous acoustic song. The chorus is another strong one, that has plenty of strong harmony vocals and melodies as Ison's drums rumble underneath. There is even some shredding during the guitar solo! Closing out the EP is Highway, another hard rocking tune. It is quite similar to Revolution, but it is no worse off for this fact. It is good that the EP ends in such a high-energy fashion, as that is what good rock music is about. It contains probably the EP's best guitar solo too, showing that Mallery is a very competent player that can inject some real quality here and there. Overall, Devils on the Run is another good release from New Device, and one that reminds us that they are capable of putting out some excellent songs.

The EP was released on 8th January 2016 via ND Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Hollywood Radio.

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