Monday 1 June 2020

DeVicious - Phase Three (2020)

Country: Germany
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 8 May 2020
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I seem to be have been reviewing a lot of melodic rock lately and plenty of albums from Germany, so it seems like an easy choice to kick off June with a melodic rock album from Germany. This is the third album from the Karlsruhe band known as DeVicious and it's as catchy as all get out, located musically somewhere in between the radio-friendly hooks of FM and the riff-laden power of Firewind. It helps that these songs are delivered in English without too much accent.

I haven't heard either of the first two DeVicious albums, but I've seen the name banded around on Facebook and I've heard odd songs here and there, like on the ever-reliable Chris Franklin's Raised on Rock radio show. It's pretty hard to think of a more likely band to feature on his show, because this is the most hook-laden set of songs that I've heard in a long time. Everything is driven by melody, whether it's a verse or a chorus, a riff or the lively bass that opens Calling My Name. Even the drums feel catchy.

In fact, for quite a while, the name of the game seems to be to one-up the previous song on that front. Firefly is obvious single material. Mysterious is even more obvious single material. Pouring Rain may not match those two, but, by the time we get to Walk Through Fire, I frankly gave up wondering if anything could be more obvious single material. I was singing along to this one on my first listen, even though I didn't know the words yet.

The approach is pretty straightforward. DeVicious are a five piece band with a dedicated lead singer in Antonio Calanna, the third such in three albums, and the usual instruments behind him. Radivoj Petrovic is the only guitarist nowadays but Denis Kunz gets a lot to do on keyboards. I'd call what they do hard rock rather than heavy metal, but it has a metallic edge. It's kind of like power metal if you toned down both the power and the metal but not so far with either as to reach AOR softness.

There are eleven songs on offer, plus a brief keyboard interlude, with the first ten following a reasonably like mindset. While the most overt singles are stacked early, the album doesn't get weaker after they're done, at least until the ballad that closes it out. It's easily my least favourite song on this album and I'm happy that it wasn't placed earlier on the album where it would have broken up the flow.

Some of the later songs could be described as the sort that keep on growing on you until they're playing in your head the moment that you wake up in the morning. Every time I listen through, Higher feels a little less worthy than the early standouts but it just won't leave me alone. It may be because it's missing that je ne sais quoi to elevate it over the others, but it's so damn good at what it does that it ends up elevating itself anyway.

Some of them are deeper musically. Clearly these musicians are capable but I don't think they're particularly pushing themselves, because this album is a lot more interested in riffs and hooks than solos. They're just not showing off. However, there are little moments here and there where they mix it up a bit more, like You Can't Stop Now and especially Calling My Name, which may well be my favourite of these songs, with a kind of Dr. Feelgood-esque tease to it.

If this was 1984, DeVicious would be everywhere, with four or five of these songs big hits in multiple countries. Even in 2020, they really ought to be all over the radio because it could work to a pop, rock or metal audience.

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