“Devil” marks the return of vocalist Craig Owens and drummer Derrick Frost to the post-hardcore sextet. It also marks the greatest collection of songs released to date for the band. Every song has a story. Every lyric has a memory. Every note leaves you wanting more. Every word is a musical angel whispering in your ears. The band has never sounded better than on this record. From the first track “U.G. Introduction” that blasts straight into “We’re Talking About Practice” straight to the ending notes of the 9 minute “I Am Everything That Is Normal”, each song is a symphony of harmonious music that will take you on a ride into the inner reaches of your mind.
I’ve listened to this album at least 10 times already writing this review. It took me forever to find something to point out with flaws. The album is solid, do not get me wrong. However, I feel that some of the songs are not as strong as others. Does it make them bad? Not at all. I just couldn’t get into them. The biggest example of this is “Under Your Halo”, which is a great love song. But I just can’t get into it musically. I love the lyrics, but the instrumentals pull me out a bit. I don’t know why, considering they are stellar and very well performed. But I just feel when you compare it to the rest of the album, it’s the weakest offering. It took me longer to get this track to sit with me perfectly than it did the rest of the record. It’s more a personal complaint, but it’s worth pointing out.
Now, that I’ve gotten out that personal grievance, I can get into the positives of this album. The perfect mix of soft calmness and heavy craziness, each track is a new offering that brings something for everyone to love. The melodic instrumentals are the best I’ve heard in a post-hardcore album and don’t let up for even a moment (barring the personal trouble I had with “Under Your Halo”), massaging your ears with a calming sound then blasting through with a hammer of musical heaviness. The two strongest tracks that represent the best of the best are “Behvis Bullock” for the power and “I Am Everything That Is Normal” for the calm. “Behvis Bullock” is unexpectedly brutal, and the last scream at the end is a blood-curdling scream that will chill your spine and shake your core. “I Am Everything That Is Normal” is a peaceful and beautiful song about love and loss. Moving on after feeling like you’ve gone as far as you can. Being shown that you can be the best you can, no matter how alone you are in the world. So many possible meanings I’ve drawn from this song, but overall it’s one of the most beautiful songs released in 2014.
Moving on from instrumentals, it’s time to discuss how Craig Owens did on his triumphant return to the band. I could on about his cleans are even more angelic or how his screams are even more piercing, but no words I speak could EVER do justice to how amazing he sounds on this record. Craig Owens is quite possibly the best in the genre when it comes to his voice. He’s improved so much since his last outing with Chiodos, “Bone Palace Ballet”, and it shows here.
With mellifluous instrumentals and euphonious vocals, “Devil” is a brilliant and glorious release that will please even the pickiest of fans. This album is easily a front runner for album of the year, and will stand tall as one of the defining efforts for the post-hardcore genre for years to come.
STREAM THE ALBUM HERE!