Bible Of The Devil // For The Love Of Thugs And Fools
Rating: 3.5/5 – Rock solid
Label: Cruz Del Sur Records
Of the 8 billion retro rock bands out in the world now, Chicago’s Bible Of The Devil sets themselves apart from the pack for two reasons: One, they are actually good, and two, they are the genuine article. These guys embody the spirit of early hard rock/proto-metal, specifically Thin Lizzy with a pinch of early NWOBHM. They can shred dual-guitar harmonies and sing about rock n’ roll without a shred of irony, though they’re obviously having fun doing it. More importantly, the guys in Bible of the Devil have an uncanny ear for melodies and hooks, and their catalog already boasts several tracks that would surely have Phil Lynott smiling down on them (up at them?). On their 6th album For The Love Of Thugs & Fools, they crank out more of that hard rock goodness.
This album is raw as a bloody steak, without any consideration given to overdubs, or even 2nd takes. The performances are ragged and the mixing job is shitty by any standard, but it gives the music a certain charm, as though you walked in on a drunken band practice one night. Guitar harmonies casually weave in and out of songs, and gigantic choruses are delivered like a karaoke night that got way out of hand. I kind of wish the recording had been polished just a little bit more (their previous album Freedom Metal was a nice example of sounding good without sounding too good.) But on the other hand, releasing an album this loose in 2012 is pretty ballsy.
This album could’ve been released in 1979 and no one would fucking blink, except maybe a few tracks that could’ve come out in 1983. “Anytime” and “Yer Boy” are prime slices of Lynott-esque melody and storytelling, while “The Parcher” has that “Holy Diver”/”Eye Of The Tiger” groove. And if the closer “Night Street” sounds out-of-place, it’s probably because it belongs on Killers. You see where this is going. Is it super-original, groundbreaking stuff? Well, no. It’s obviously been done before, but the familiarity is a good one, like putting on that pair of steel-toe boots you haven’t worn in a while.
There is one sticking point with Bible Of The Devil, which has probably been mentioned in other reviews, and it is this: these guys can’t sing for shit. Normally, this would not be a hindrance for a metal band, except for B of the D’s insistence on massive vocal hooks, multi-part harmonies and other orchestrated singing parts. Hearing a chorus of four dudes going “WHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAA” is a lot less effective if all four of them are off-key. This sort of thing can either be charming or obnoxious, and the band walks that line throughout the album, occasionally stumbling on the “obnoxious” side.
But to paraphrase “V For Vendetta,” beneath those vocals are ideas, and in this case the ideas are fucking bulletproof. You WILL be singing these songs in your car while fist-pounding the steering wheel. You will find yourself air-guitaring them at inappropriate moments in your life, such as your aunt’s funeral. You will have the chorus to “I Know What Is Right (In The Night)” stuck in your head when you go to take a leak. These songs are packed with enough catchy hooks and riffs to overcome the weak production and questionable singing, so if you enjoy old-school rock music of high quality, this band and this album might be the thing for you.
As an aside, I should mention that Bible of the Devil is firmly in the “they’re better live” category — having seen them a couple of times, I can attest that however good their albums are, these songs only sound “right” in person and at high volume. So if Bible of the Devil comes through your town, do yourself a favor and check ’em out.