Review Summary: Catchy electronic metal, almost at its finest.
Although comparable in many ways to his peer, Bret Autrey of Blue Stahli prefers a slightly more schizophrenic, mad scientist approach to things, unlike the grander, more theatrical musical outlet Klayton (of Celldweller) tends to produce. Happily bouncing around from one style to the next with little to no regard for consistency or critical reception, this bizarre, energetic penchant for diversity in his wild musical conceptions have resulted in some fantastic results, successfully keeping things fresh and interesting. His instrumental series of Antisleep
albums have proven themselves entertaining at the very least, but it was the 2011 Blue Stahli
record, his first effort of delivering fully fledged songs with vocals, that really showed off what Autrey was capable of. Visceral, aggressive, and packing more than enough guitar distortion to 'ready, aim, fire' itself right into your ears (leaving a gaping exit hole along the way), Blue Stahli
paved the way to bigger success, and after a long four year wait, a sophomore vocal record has seriously felt overdue. Finally, following two 'chapter' releases before the final product, comes The Devil
Although not one to stay rooted in one style for too long, Autrey's vocal records tend to feature far more consistency in structure and themes than his instrumental efforts. A little less focused on the sinister atmospheres of 'Corner', or the snarling aggression of 'Scrape', The Devil
instead aims for a catchier sound than its predecessor, jam packed full of big, anthemic chorus' and far more mainstream in structure. It may seem somewhat generic, but rest assured this is pulled off in spectacular fashion; 'Ready, Aim, Fire' and 'Armageddon' feature as ridiculous in nature, yet instantly, stupendously memorable. Electronic beats, and sprawling digital snippets of various sound bites fill the air in some of the albums greatest moments, and if anything else, it's just simply fun
to listen to. The album also takes more than enough time shows off Autrey's ability to write some fantastically catchy guitar riffs; like a sucker punch to the face, 'Not Over Til We Say So's thrashy, Daron Malakian-esque guitar play bursts onto the scene with some of Autrey's fastest riffage to date, seamlessly integrated with Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies' pounding guest appearance on bass and vocals. Tracks such as 'Rockstar' also benefit massively from Autrey's guitar work here, bringing a grittier, heavier vibe where needed, and 'Down In Flames' glorifies in blasting metal distortion and a rare, short Blue Stahli guitar solo.
As for what you'd hope the 'main event' to be on Autrey's sophomore vocal album, the lyrical and vocal work for the most part is a success here. While Blue Stahli
featured some gorgeous, moody lyrical choices throughout the record, ("there is an art to infliction, head-spill and homicide, I'll burn it all just to light your eyes"), to fit the catchier style of the record, this has mostly been dumbed down. Instead, Autrey's vocals are the driving force for most tracks, such as the soaring chorus of 'The Fall', or the growling repeats of "armageddon, baby". His finest moments are of course the songs that suit his personality best; under all the fun and games, a threatening atmosphere and gnarly vocals. 'The Devil' and 'Enemy' are great examples of Autrey's ability to build up a sense of unease, before breaking the tension through massive, powering chorus'. One the album's best highlights of Autrey's vocal delivery is album closer 'Demon', a track that relishes in crunchy hard rock riffs, Autrey's haunting calls of "you've got a demon", and a steady build into oblivion.
If anything else, The Devil
succeeds in simply being something massively enjoyable to listen to, and this is likely to have been Autrey's goal all along. Although dabbling here and there in the mood of a horror movie, the diversity of of the album's content playfully keeps things light and energetic for the most part, driven by its goal to make you grin like a madman. In keeping things bouncing around and not getting weighed down by anything too heavy in nature, The Devil
ends up being an easily accessible, yet rather original collection of material. It can sound a little repetitive in places, but this does very little to slow the album's momentum, and The Devil
shines as an example of electronic metal almost at its finest.