Devils Of Belgrade
posted on 8/2010 By:
The term “instrumental act” is anything but a universal label. More often than not it refers to songs of typical structure that lack vocals but are overflowing with solos or riffs. However, some bands write in true instrumental fashion, leaving no room or need for vocals, providing a welcome respite from the legions of attention-demanding “fronted” rock and metal bands. Indianapolis, Indiana’s Devils of Belgrade falls far closer to the latter than former. Sophomore effort Ðavolja Varoš is a riff-o-matic mixture of jammin’ stoner metal, thrash, and prog that should seem scatterbrained but doesn’t, thanks in no small part to the incredible charisma that these four guys have as a unit.
It might be easier to classify Devils of Belgrade as something along the lines of “righteous riff metal” more than any established genre. The sheer number of melodic ideas, guitar techniques and musical styles presented on Ðavolja Varoš would be daunting in lesser hands, but the band weaves it all with a certain musical agility. Included is speedy High on Fire-styled material (much of “Red Well”), NWOBHM or Thin Lizzy dual-axe heroics, full-on stoner groove (the mid-point of “Svaka Vam Chast”), a general thrashing intensity and well-placed shifts into the progressive realm, minus any real virtuosic (wanking) tendencies. For example, monster track “Bay of the Seven-Headed Hound” sounds like Bible of the Devil’s Mark Hoffmann finally blew out his voice, turned his band instrumentally insane and formed a moderate Dream Theater obsession. If a nit has to be picked, it is that certain themes may occasionally sound familiar or be abandoned earlier than seems natural, but the vast majority of the album is incredibly engaging and teeming with rock fervor.
The entirety of Ðavolja Varoš has a music-for-musicians feel to it. Aiding this impression is the tasteful soloing strewn throughout (including some nice slide and even resonator action on “Cones of Silence”) and an extremely well-honed and talented rhythm section. The combination of Marshall Kreeb’s dancing bass and Todd Ickes’ grounded, active and somewhat jazzy drumming deserves an extra mention, as both are as important to the riffs and melodies as the guitars themselves. Also adding to the music-for-musicians quality is how the production makes the instruments actually sound like real instruments: no recording tricks for the drums, an always appropriate level of guitar distortion and bass that never fights to be heard.
But fuck the details: Ðavolja Varoš is just one seriously fun record. (It includes a song named “Oktoberfist,” for chrissakes). Fifty minutes of toe-tappin’, headbanging, righteous heavy metal music that makes it all too easy to picture Devils of Belgrade getting carried away in the studio, jamming like crazy and almost forgetting that they are there to actually record something. There is a bit of room to grow with the deftness of their intricate songwriting, but once you hit the play button you’re not likely to give a shit, so just let ‘er rip.
May they never dare let a vocalist anywhere near a recording session.
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