Review Summary: Sure as hell paid for that mistake
Somehow gaining a level of praise that few other bands in the genre have achieved, Brand News reputation marks them as a game-changer with a small but rewarding discography. The more pop punk-inflected Your Favourite Weapon
and the alternative rock/emo mashups of Deja Entendu
preceded this record, both showing potential but neither capitalising on the songwriting genius of Jesse Lacey. Yet The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me
, the bands third record, has a unique approach to production that gives its ominous stories an invigorating sound that their other material sorely lacks.
After the monotonous ‘Sowing Season’ has concluded its mediocre trundle, ‘Milestone’ is the first track that really encapsulates the dark, disturbing experience of The Devil and God
. The soaring hook might mislead you into thinking that the entire album will revolve around these sorts of anthems, but as an attention grabber it has no equal. It’s the most accessible song on the whole album, but definitely amongst the weakest when it comes to vocal ability. It’s not that Jesse doesn’t deliver on grungy, downtrodden songs such as this, but the places he really takes off are on tracks like ‘Degausser’, featuring spine-tingling melodies and a tantalising glimpse of something even greater in its atmospherics. ‘Handcuffs’, which is hands down the most flooring song here, concludes the bands nightmarish visions with subtly-woven layers of darkness in what would be an otherwise disappointing and abrupt end. The lyrics are so shocking that the way they are delivered may initially seem unimportant, but it becomes very easy to appreciate Jesse’s moaning and groaning once you grasp the motifs of innocence and corruption that pervade this album.
The band don’t really unite behind their frontman all that often, but when they do the results are gorgeous. The loss of faith expressed in ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Limousine’ make them mesmerising as it is, but the harmonics, wailed backing vocals and stadium-sized, sledgehammer riffs bring them up to an almost unprecedented standard for post-hardcore perfection. The epic production may have something to do with how incredible this album often sounds, even on duds like ‘You Won’t Know’ and the almost Muse-esque ‘Not the Sun’. These weaker numbers nearly ruin the already inconsistent middle section, but it’s hard to say you don’t appreciate the intricacies of the wonderfully balanced mix, bringing out stampeding drums in some places and grim bass twangs in others.
The highlights on The Devil and God
are often the ones that require most attention to really get. You may forget all about ‘Archers’ after ‘Handcuffs’ gives you a slap of sombre reflection, but here the melodies are strongest, the drums most diverse and the guitar flourishes at their most complex. It’s a fantastic listen, and alongside 'Luca' (brimming with thick, bassy riffs well deserving of a much heavier album) consolidates the bands more diverse approach as a success.