Devilfork - Devilknife
Experimental Heavy Metal
12 songs (48:54)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Goat

There's an amusing air of understated sarcasm to Devilfork, whether it's on the press release which informs you that the band's music can be described as 'good' and that the band wrote the lyrics themselves, or in the music itself. British in design, wit and style, debut album Devilknife weaves a path between various genres, combining the pop-driven melodicism of 80s metal both above and underground with a songwriting attitude which is straight from the 70s. Listed influences vary from Motörhead to Motley Crue with mention of Cardiacs and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band , and indeed if Vivian Stanshall was to try his unique hand at playing 80s Metal then I imagine the results would be something like this.

Opening track Ju88, for example, is more or less a cross between Death'n'Roll and old-school Heavy Metal, fuzzy guitar riffs and growled vocals doing their catchy thing before the band suddenly switches track, lightening the vocals and bringing in synths in a bizarre little piece called Don't Understand! - the title sums it up pretty well. By the time that When Two Embrace One rolls around and you're listening to some variety of Cock Rock, it's hard not to conclude that the band is fucking with the listener. It's surprisingly good, however, even for a gnarled extremist like myself, and the band make up for it with the old-school values of The Dragonslayer's Swordquest.

From the Eastern wailing voices (or 'choral polyrhythmisicism' as the band put it) of If I Could Ignore You to the Folk-touched speed of Pruritus Ani, Devilknife represents the sound of a talented group having a bit of fun as they explore the outer limits of what you can do with Heavy Metal. Moments like the technical second half of The Dark Lighthouse prove that there's skill aplenty to play with, but starting the track with a minute-long intro of the band pretending to be sailors won't be to everyone's taste, and this playful attitude will probably keep Devilfork in the underground. Still, listening to the sleaze-ridden Cycle Chick, it's hard not to conclude that the band prefer it that way, the rollicking Fortress Of Metal alone far too much fun to have been written with a serious mindset. What label would let them get away with the eleven-minute Tip, starting with a self-help CD spoken word introduction before introducing cello and the kind of Gothic gloominess that My Dying Bride do so well? The voice offering help soon turns sinister, as you might expect, with the classical elements (piano added to the strings of before) growling bolder and more epic before fading away as the voice continues and the track turns Metal towards the end. It's either genius or completely and utterly ridiculous, and all I can do is invite you to make your minds up for yourselves - just one strange track on an album full of them, from a band which deserves to be heard yet which will cause more headscratching than headbanging.

Killing Songs :
Don't Understand!, Pruritus Ani, Fortress Of Metal, Tip
Goat quoted 72 / 100
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