Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bible of the Devil - Firewater At My Command. 75/100.

Having discovered Bible of the Devil through the song ‘Ol’ Girl’, taken from the latest full-length ‘Freedom Metal’ which saw its release sometime in 2008, the record and the song itself have taken on a momentous meaning that I never would have expected it to do so upon discovery. I listened to it expecting the career of this band to be relatively the same throughout their career due to the fact that they had released five records in the space of six years, a phenomenal effort. The band has a big following nowadays and records like this, which have a raw edge, highlights the ground this band, as well as others in the stoner genre, have covered since this effort, ‘Firewater At My Command’. These records have slowly become symbolic of the genre because they highlight the maturity that has become a trademark of the best stoner bands around. Its no secret that in music, the bands with the most experience tend to produce the best sounds and indicates why this record isn’t as significant in terms of overall quality, but is significant when factoring in the multiple improvements that the band have had since this record was pushed upon the public back in 2002. As much as the pleasing elements do make this a worthwhile listen, the negative aspects are trying their hardest to make this an all-out-average affair.

The debut, which only came out six years prior to ‘Freedom Metal’, which has a much more liberated sound than this given the fact that it displays a higher sense of know-how and experience, shocked me to my inner most core with several of its unexpected features; such as the production and the vocal display which differentiates the eras of the band, despite the short amount of time that they have had to cover this loosely doom related stoner metal sound. This record symbolises a notable lack of experience, which is precisely what has turned this potentially brilliant band into a force in the present day. Though Bible of the Devil have their qualities, and although they’re still on show here, the band manage to use some faulty methods of instrumentation and sloppy vocal showcasing that makes this not-so-epic piece the heart wrenching one that it is. I must say, despite the lack of quality in depth, the band do demonstrate potential, which is precisely why I imagine a lot of people stuck with them throughout their careers. This bravery is paying dividends now as the band have magnified their strengths in the latest effort and shunted their weaknesses aside to give way to glorious vocal displays and solid instrumentation of a distinctive catchy nature.

This type of metal can be known as “drinking metal”. It displays all the qualities that one would require when drinking with a jovial bunch of good friends. Its upbeat, its edgy and it has a traditional quality that will probably remind people of watching their parents happily listening to 80’s heavy and traditional metal in the best of moods. It was precisely these moments in history that forced people to listen to metal as an adult -- because their parents did. In some ways, the career of this band can, in my mind, be compared to that of Electric Wizards. I remember hearing the hype about that band and entering into the world of their globally loved discography with a sense of excitement at what was to come. My excitement was just a flash in the pan as the first few full-lengths greeted me with outstretched arms of mediocrity and lulled me into a false sense of security that would stay with me forevermore when approaching their records. The bands career did develop, in terms of quality, so all was definitely not lost. I came around to their acid trip style of stoner music which consisted of a strong vocal performance (much like the latter Bible of the Devil records). This sparks a rejuvenated sound in the style, with the quirky bass lines leading a lot of what follows on songs like ‘Typical Chicago Jackass’. Having said that, the style isn’t as quirky as it gets on latter full-lengths, which suggests the band aren’t living up to their full potential just yet.

From out of the murk and clouds formed by the excessive weed smoking, the shadow of mediocrity that stalked the beginning of the bands career came and went as the electric ‘Dopethrone’ took charge of a situation which was in desperate need of management and control. The same could be said of Bible of the Devil’s full-length performances, which is where the comparison comes into play. The beginning of their career, unlike Electric Wizards, or at least not to the same extent, does contain some pleasing aspects which explains why the bands career is flying at the moment. The vocals pose some problems when the backing vocalist joins in, but when the lead vocalist is left on his lonesome to produce those upbeat melodies in his mellifluous voice, he does it with an energetic performance and as if he’s running on batteries. His performance is akin to the sound of the instrumentation, which compliments the atmospherics well. The guitars are distorted, but jovial. On occasions, in songs like the aptly named ‘The Drug Is Violence’, Bible of the Devil take on a altruistically violent sound in the menacing bass sections, which includes exuberant double bass. However, the bands experimental factor comes back into play when the acoustics are lined up along the soundscapes with tenderness and loving care. The band know how to experiment, but under the thick and hazy production, it doesn’t always come off well and we’re ultimately left with some short comings in the productive style that can leave a lot to be desired. Fun loving.

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