Device (Can) - Device
Classic Heavy Metal
9 songs (45:05)
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

Right, let's get a few things out of the way. Firstly, no, you shouldn't be put off by that name, this band having been around for three years before Disturbed's David Draiman started his industrial side-project in 2012. Second of all, no, this isn't Voivodic tech-thrash a la Vektor, despite what you may expect (and what I expected) from that cover art and logo. Instead, Canadian trio Device play a form of heavy metal that could well have come from the early 80s, from the high-pitched singing to the galloping guitar. I was slightly disappointed (I love Voivod, love Vektor and would have loved another band like that) but not for long – this is an excellent album. Musically, as you'd expect, it takes broad scoops of classic metal and paints broadly but skilfully with them; here a dab of early Iron Maiden, there a splash of Mercyful Fate, a bit of Accept around the edges. And when you take the band's skilful playing, capable songwriting, and infectious sense of fun into account, you have an excellent album and one hell of a début.

There's even a pleasing rawness to the production, which makes the bass zing and the guitar tone feel warm and real. But it's that sense of fun that really charms on initial listens. Nothing here is original, playing spot-the-reference part of the charm. Yet whether it's widdly opener Don't Mess With Texas, or mid-paced epic follow-up Defiant, the band play well and with obvious love for the source material. So yes, Defiant does sound quite a lot like early Iron Maiden, but they write the song just as skilfully, with compelling and catchy riffs and instrumental sections that can't help but draw you in, that you forget you're listening to a new album from 2014; this could well be some lost classic from twenty years earlier.

That sense continues as you listen to tracks like Lost My Soul, a galloping little proto-speed metal epic with epic instrumental sections that widdle off into near-prog territory, and City of Refuge, a groovy stomper with classic doom leanings. Enemy's Blood kicks things into a faster gear, Am I the Iceman slows it right down, and although finale The Devil and the Shoemaker seems to fill the near eight-minute running time with as much weird samples as riffs, what riffs there are are wonderful. Yes, there is room for criticism; Device could learn to finish their songs as well as they begin and play them, for one, and as good as hearing the sounds of the early eighties played again, a little more originality wouldn't go amiss. Also, not all of the songs here are wonderful; Medusa especially is a bit of a stuttering mess. Still, it feels harsh to criticise what is undoubtedly a great début album too much, and many of you will love this wholeheartedly. I think there's better to come from Device, but this is a pretty damn good start. Listen and buy from their bandcamp site here.

Killing Songs :
Defiant, Lost My Soul, City of Refuge, Enemy's Blood
Goat quoted 75 / 100
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