Typically evoking images of expanses barren and desolate, many black metal bands employ the use of their caustic art to bring the listener into a sonic space connected with the natural world. While it’s not at all unusual for these landscapes to be a bitingly frigid arctic tundra or an impenetrably dense forest, far fewer bands call upon the equally awe-inspiring North American deserts, where Saguaro cacti stand tall like ancient sentinels over the arid and unforgiving dunes, but that’s just what Arizona’s Devil With No Name have done with their upcoming self-titled release.
With their name being an adversarial play on words and a nod to the wide-brimmed hat of “The Man With No Name” (the stoic antihero of Sergio Leone’s seminal Spaghetti Western “Dollars Trilogy” films), Devil With No Name have presented a brief but steadfast first effort, full of raw bravado and unclean gravitas.
Featuring an impressive roster of musicians, Devil With No Name is the creation of Andrew Markuszewski (Lord Mantis, Avichi, Sonoran Rebel Black Magick) on guitars and vocals, Michał Juśko (Sovereign) on bass and vocals, and Cody Stein (Void Omnia) on drums. With the technical help of Ken Sorceron (Abigial Williams, Lord Mantis) in the studio, the sound achieved here is far from the common amateuristic lo-fi black metal debut. This recording has a polished crispness despite the primitive and rebellious nature of the music.
A whirling amalgam of black, thrash, and death metal, the four songs on this release are unrelenting in their attack of dissonant chords, sinister tremolo picked leads, thunderous drumming, booming basslines, and abyssal vocals. While the songs progress at an often blistering pace of blast beats and double bass, the band also knows the value of effectively interjecting a well executed and catchy hook in their riffing, sometimes utilizing a “less is more” approach as displayed on the capriciously titled second track, “Alleluia.” There’s no superfluous sweep-picking or gravity blasts thrown in for their own sake, and that’s to the record’s benefit.
The “black ‘n roll” sound works well to compliment the faster paced elements on the release. One of the prime examples of Devil With No Name’s more standard fast-paced attack comes in the way of the track “Sycophants of the Covenant,” with guitars and drums galloping in unison, while densely layered ethereal choral vocals and subtle electronic elements texture the atmosphere without detracting from the organic feel of the recording.
Though it’s not necessarily groundbreaking, this is a highly promising and solid debut from a band that should be kept on the radar of anyone who enjoys a varied mix of extreme metal and well-crafted songs. For a young band, they sound as tight as can be. Their dedication shines through with them sounding like a well-oiled machine. While it might be missing a non-contrived slide guitar part or more of a Western twang to the mix, this is assuredly a band to follow to see what else they have in their ammo belt for the future.
– Wes Radvansky