Regular readers of Musicscramble will undoubtedly have heard me mention Mammal in the past. A fairly short lived band, they broke up in 2009. Guitarist Pete Williamson and drummer Zane Rosanoski went on to form Black Devil Yard Boss picking up friend and bassist Michael ‘Big D’ Davids. I’ve been following them since their formation and I’m happy to be reviewing their first full length album Black Devil Rising.
The album is for the most part has a southern American blues-rock feel with a healthy tinge of funk and is quite bass heavy in parts. Most tracks weigh in at around the three minute mark though feel like they whizz by a lot faster. The sound is rich and well recorded and it’s surprising that even as only a three piece outfit they have a bigger sound than you’d expect. It’s reminiscent of other bands, with aspects of Black Stone Cherry, Duff McKagen’s Loaded and The Answer amongst others yet retaining an identity of it’s own. If a band is going to remind its listeners of others then those are damn good examples to follow.
Record opener ‘Down Tuning’ is a prime example of what they’ve set out to create. It’s fast, catchy has some cracking guitar and draws you right in. Following track ‘Smash Stuff’, one of the first tracks released as a freebie, takes the blues formula and throws in the funk mix and is one of the stand out unique numbers that’s distinctly the bands own. As the album continues, it doesn’t lose the draw which is quite an achievement. Too many bands have a lot of filler stuff on their début, but everything here is good solid stuff with a few stand out tracks such as ‘Black Devil’s Rising’ and ‘One Dead Letter’. The exception to the rule though is last track ‘My Old Lady’, which is a slow lumbering number. It doesn’t fit the tempo of the rest of the record and doesn’t work as a decent closer. I’d have loved it to go out with a bang the way it began.
Instrumentation throughout is brilliant. There’s some really cool bass, some smashing little guitar solos and really good drumming throughout. I’m reluctant to say lets it down exactly, but the vocals are inconsistent, sometimes sounding like a different singer between songs. I mentioned Duff McKagen’s Loaded before, and that’s probably a good example of what to expect. Duff ain’t a singer, but took it upon himself in his own band and has a passable if unremarkable voice. Same goes here. On some songs it sounds a bit like Seasick Steve for example, and here and there there’s distortion that adds to the effect of the song, but kind of outlines that the vocal isn’t the strongest component.
So apart from the dull last track, this is a superb first album. It feels like it would translate really well to a live performance and I can imagine Black Devil Yard Boss doing great support slots for the bands I highlighted earlier. The Mammal boys at least have a great live pedigree – Mammal’s first release was a live album after all – so I’ve no doubts a they’d be great live. It’s always difficult for Australian bands to tour the globe, especially starting out, but if there’s any Scottish dates in future I’m guaranteed to be there.