EPs are a better introduction to your new band than a full length is. This is for the simple reason that the less tracks you have, the less chance you have of exposing your weaknesses. You’re less likely to repeat ideas, you’re less likely to bore your audience, your personal stamp stands out more and, crucially, EPs are shorter than albums. If ‘The Beauty of Destruction’ had been an EP then Devil You Know would still be a pretty exciting prospect for nostalgic Killswitch Fans who grew up on the Jones-era tunes and a potentially sweet gateway band for the new generation trying to find their way to heavier music.
Except ‘The Beauty of Destruction’ is a full length. With very little beautiful about. Beautiful has connotations of something extraordinary. Devil You Know come across more as extra ordinary than extraordinary. There is a distinct difference.
The problem with this record is that it sounds like everything else. The break down riffs sound like a million other break downs. The blasting kick drums, impressive though they might be, sound depressingly clinical. The shred moments sound astounding, but you couldn’t remember them to hum or air guitar too. The grooves are as tight as they come but they’ve no pulse or sense of spontaneity.The only thing that is anyway outstanding about this record are a few of Howard Jones’ choruses.
In all the euphoria that’s followed the re-birth of a Jesse Leach fronted Killswitch Engage it’s been overlooked that Jones posses a serious set of pipes. Few metal vocalists can lay claim to the kind of melodic sensibility that makes ‘My Own’ such an instantaneous anthem. The choruses on this album save a few of the tracks from being predictable and tedious. Even the plodding stomp along attempt at pit fodder that is ‘Embrace the Torture’ feel more vital once Jones breaks out his humongous croon. The visceral black metal screeches that dominate much of ‘ A Mind Insane’ almost make up for that tracks underwhelming attempts to pick up the album’s pace.
The less said about the ‘spoken word’ segments that appear here and there to call back to that early 00’s metalcore sound the better though.
‘For The Dead and Broken’ is probably the best track here. Jones switches from convincingly delicate verses to a sedate and immediate chorus with lyrics that are general enough to appeal to anyone. Though admittedly they’re still too complex for a Five Finger Death Punch fan.
The same can’t be said of lead single ‘Seven Years Alone’ which is a truly woeful metalcore by numbers basher with a video almost as cringe worthy as the album’s uninspired title. Though neither of these things are quite as appalling as the electronic percussion in ‘It’s Over’. Presumably included to make the band sound eclectic, it simply makes them sound like they’re out of touch.
Are Devil You Know actually bad? I’m honestly not sure. All the ingredients are here, and clearly the band can play but there’s only a few tracks here that have any staying power at all. The rest are held back by unimaginative arrangements, dull riffs, predictable drums and the occasional cringe worthy lyric. Devil You Know are not as ferocious as All Shall Perish, as catchy as Killswitch or …well, I don’t know what Devolved sound like but I imagine they’re not as good at something as Devolved are.
Howard Jones remains an incredible vocalist, whose versatility and accessibility is stamped all over this album. It’s just a shame that the instrumentalists behind him aren’t as imaginative as say, Blood Has Been Shed.
Still, Devil You Know are a marketing man’s wet dream. Just look at all those band names you can put on a cover sticker. The only band who can trump Devil You Know in that regard is probably the upcoming release from Killer be Killed. So that’s something I guess.