Heavily Ever After

Lax Wax
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Distemper
02. When All Is Said and Done
03. Megistotherium
04. Morningstar
05. High Horse
06. Troglodyte Jive
07. Grimoires
08. Thinning the Herd
09. Mancuerda
10. Snake Charmer
11. Goat Leaves
12. Dead Wrong
13. Zealots

With all the attention being paid (and rightfully so) to Indianapolis heavy purveyors THE GATES OF SLUMBER, hopefully a little limelight will splash over onto DEVIL TO PAY, their unsung neighbors. These guys have been dropping lead anchors of slow, soulful, melodic heavy rock for a good while now, evolving from sludgy one-trick-ponies into ambitious, dynamic players and writers. On third album "Heavily Ever After" they issue forth their most mature, fully-realized, and ass-kicking disc to date.

Those familiar with the band's typical sound may want to skip to track two, lest the full-throttle "Distemper" cause consternation — it's a barn-burner, a raging statement of intent and a fine opener to blow the doors off. DEVIL TO PAY still spend a good bit of time in low gear, though, on cuts like "When All Is Said and Done" and the tense, crushing "Troglodyte Jive". They rattle it down to almost CROWBAR levels of anguished plod, without losing any energy, always showcasing the melodic yowl of frontman Steve Janiak's voice and the band's overall sense of hooks and dynamics.

Really, there's not much separating DEVIL TO PAY from mass appeal -- anyone into SOUNDGARDEN's more metallic moments would surely dig these cavernous tones and earnest, melodic, accessible vocals. Slot that band's influence next to a little bit of groove from DOWN or mid-90's COC, add some SABBATH riff worship, and you're close to the mark. What makes them special is their effortless hooks — a song like "Morningstar" isn't your typical radio hit fare, but it's got a chorus that'll burrow into your brain and set up shop for days there. So many bands nail the earthmoving tone, but can't write a song to save their lives — DEVIL TO PAY do both, and make it look damn easy, delivering weighty, underground-approved riffs with stuff you can sing along to, as well.

From the rockier "High Horse" to ponderous epic closer "Zealots", DEVIL TO PAY bring their A-game for "Heavily Ever After". It's doom for classic rock guys... stoner rock with songs... and it's a potent, bad-ass collection of tunes that, in a just world, would be blaring out of open van windows on highways nationwide for the next twenty or thirty summers. Give 'em a shot.

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