Devil’s Train – Ashes & Bones (Rock of Angels Records)Friday, 24th June 2022
Back for a third platter with a new bassist and guitarist in tow, Devil’s Train contains many familiar players for those who love heavy, power, and speed metal. Drummer Jörg Michael cut his teeth on acts like Running Wild, Rage, Stratovarius, and Axel Rudi Pell on the short list, while vocalist R.D. Liapakis has been involved in Mystic Prophecy since their inception. Add in bassist Jens Becker who played in Running Wild with Jörg plus latest guitarist Dan Baune (Monument and his own Lost Prophecy act a part of the ROAR roster) and we arrive at Ashes & Bones, another solid platter of blues-based hard rock/metal, featuring a mix of classic chord progressions, straight ahead tempos, and mechanics/twists that befit a throwback time.
When you have artists developing their own take on a movement they cut their teeth on, the results can be amazing. Dan’s axe skills shape the material with a cross-section of UK/US influences like Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy or Black Label Society – gritty and savage while tastefully in the pocket for the swanky “Rising on Fire” yet explosive in an uplifting manner during “Smell Sex Tonight”. Jens and Jörg develop that twin powers unity importance right away for opener “The Devil & The Blues”, the slower groove penetrating with cowbell and thick bass accents that serve added dynamic appeal. The old big band/swinging element comes into play with “More” as some serious musical interplay runs and an infectious R.D. driven vocal performance plus organ swells will have the hordes dancing or singing in the aisles. Slide guitar and a low-tuned heaviness give “Man with a Gun” another American-like touch of atmosphere, the background vocal support during the chorus more Teutonic in Accept-oriented charm. It wouldn’t be a Devil’s Train record without a special cover. This time the band reach back into the 80’s pop/r&b archives to make a heavier interpretation of “Word Up” by Cameo, the sinister rhythm-oriented melodies plus double kick/ solid guitar work make this an ideal party anthem that could win over outsiders.
Ashes & Bones offers proof that metal musicians can deliver a great, blues-based heavy rock effort with teeth, groove, and performances that rally music appreciators to keep Devil’s Train rolling well into the night.