Following Accept‘s 2014 Blind Rage release, on and off guitarist Herman Frank once again cut ties with the long-running and influential Germanic metallers to pursue other musical endeavors, most notably his eponymous solo project. The Devil Rides Out is the third outing from Frank, and like its predecessors, it’s a burly hybrid of vintage Accept and rocking 80s hair metal acts like Dokken and Krokus. 2012s Right in the Guts was a highly enjoyable, rowdy blend of hard rock and metal, and his latest deviates little from that tried-and-true template. Along with returning vocalist Rick (I sound like Jorn) Altzi, Frank has penned 12 tracks of boozy, ballsy rippers suitable for all day keg-o-thons, dead lift day at the gym or random road trips with your unsavory friends. None of this music requires an ounce of grey matter to appreciate and most of it sounds like it should be blaring over a training montage scene in an 80s Rocky movie. These are both good things, as sometimes you need some brainless testosterone-addled metal, and Herman Frank knows how to deliver that particular product better than most.
The Devil Rides Out is a highly consistent hard rocking album with every track designed to get in, smack you up and run off before you feel the first pang of tedium. Opener “Running Back” has nothing to do with your shitty fantasy football team (Jared Goff? Really?), wisely choosing to address the far more worthy topic of running from a psychotic hunter. The aggressive, upbeat music is perfect for such a tale, with urgent riffing, pummeling double bass and Altzi’s whiskey soaked hard rock vocals squealing for power and glory. Think Accept‘s classic “Fast as a Shark” and you’re in the right neighborhood. And there you have the blueprint for the next 52 minutes of your life as one bruiser after another arrives to introduce their boots to your buttocks.
Of special note is “Can’t Take It” which screams 80s hard rock to the rafters of whatever crappy club you attended back then, with a chorus at once so dumb and catchy it will both piss you off and make you give it hateful respect. If you haven’t downed a lager by song’s end you need to review your life choices. “No Tears in Heaven” sounds like extra heavy Tesla and works despite that inherent flaw, and “Run Boy Run” is mindlessly zippy adrenaline-rich metal that makes me want to run someplace I normally drive to. “Ballhog Zone” and “License to Kill” are slower and edgier, both simple as hell but catchy in the way good Accept songs are (though the frequent exhortations of “You suck!” on the former are a bit too dumb).
No song feels tacked on and the writing is solid throughout, but overall the material is less impactful than that on Right in the Guts. Length-wise things are fine and the album swaggers by before you know it. The production is a bit on the loud side, but not to the point where it inhibits enjoyment, and this is hardly the kind of album you’d expect to by “dynamic” anyway.
Rick Altzi is building a nice little niche for himself as the poor man’s Jorn, replacing him in Masterplan and lending his rock-ready voKILLS to whoever calls. At this rate it won’t be long until he’s doing projects with TBD opera chicks for Frontiers Records. Kidding aside, his voice is perfectly suited for this kind of bluesy bar metal and he does a fine job lustily roaring and rasping through the material. Mr. Frank is quite skilled at crafting little rock anthems, his ability to infuse his writing with a blue-collar, bluesy toughness is a major asset, and his solo-work is always sharp, tasteful and so 80s it hurts you in the deplorable nostalgia basket.
The Devil Rides Out delivers exactly what we’ve come to expect from Herman Frank and though the I prefer the previous albums, this is another quality release by the long-time axe master. If you need to clear your head or get your blood up, you could do a lot worse than this. Not essential, but definitely enjoyable.