The Devil Is Them
New Heavy Sounds
14 October 2013
Back in 2003, Kerrang! magazine published a list of the most influential albums ever, with Faith No More’s Angel Dust sitting at the top of the pile. Ten years later and that 1992 album is still proving an inspiration to many – Mike Patton’s most famous project has left an indelible mark on the landscape of alternative music, and the vein of influence courses through this second album from South East Londoners, Antlered Man.
A previous encounter of this band at 2000trees Festival when vocalist Damo Ezekiel-Holmes (possibly not real name) was touting a flute, but that element is missing from this album – good to see they’re done with that brief flautation (BOOM BOOM). That morning they proved a rather instantaneous cure for a hangover, and one listen to a track like ‘GDZ’ will flatten you, whether you’re feeling worse for wear or not. Given that the band originate from Bermondsey, so it’s fitting that this track feels like getting caught in the aftermath of a Millwall F.C. home match – utter chaos reigns, led by the commanding riffs of Danny Fury (almost definitely not real name).
Though this album sounds fantastic at times, the key element missing is consistency. The band have made a concerted effort to experiment wherever possible, which leads to a tendency to become a little lost on the album’s lengthier components. ‘Claude The Ideal Bloody Gentleman’ just about does enough to remain interesting, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for ‘Audition Tapes For Hades’ and its preceding interlude-esque track ‘Salute Da Calm’, a period of over fourteen minutes of the record where not much of note happens. Where ‘Claude…‘ keeps the tempo high throughout its discourse, ‘Audition Tapes…’ feels a little sluggish, and although its almost orchestral final throes are impressive, the track bids farewell with functionless noisemaking. These tracks follow on from ‘Phony Tough’, a song featuring a hook so maddeningly insistent it could be used to torture Guantanamo Bay prisoners, so it’s lamentable that the album loses the head of momentum it has built up to now.
Antlered Man impress much when at full pelt, but this record’s more difficult moments make The Devil Is Them a good listen, rather than a great one. If you’re after something that stretches the boundaries of more humdrum hard rock fodder, look no further, but the overall quality level of This Devil Is Them suffers from failing to retain the hefty blows landed at the start of the record. However, any album that contains a track called ‘The Ballad Of Hamhock Fullsleeve’ should undoubtedly find its way into your ears on merit alone.
Sounds Like: Bands that lazy journalists describe as sounding like other bands “on acid”
Standout Tracks: GDZ, Ian Will Break Again, Phony Tough