Recently here at Angry Metal Guy, there has been an unexplainable outcry from our devoted followers for nipple art. I don’t know why. Actually, I do. And wouldn’t you know it, here comes another album cover catering to our baser instincts. Only this one features a six-armed, alien-headed Nipple Creature. It could almost be interior art for those old Advanced Dungeons And Dragons modules of the 1980s (Yer Gaming Is Olde?). So, the cover for this new Devil To Pay record is good but also not good. Which direction will the music go? And who are these guys? Turns out the band has been around since at least 2003. Devil To Pay is the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Steve Janiak. A Bend Through Space And Time is their fifth album, and follows up 2013’s Fate Is Your Muse. Both records focus lyrically on the metaphysical and anything one hallucinates about when in a drug-induced coma, as Janiak was a few years ago. Musically, Devil To Pay exhibit influences such as Kyuss, Crowbar (not the cool Canadian version), and Mötörhead. It’s a catchy, fuzzy, riffy blend of metal and the musicianship displayed throughout this album is top notch.
The ten songs on A Bend Through Space And Time clock in at a svelte 44 minutes. There’s no self-indulgence here. These guys hit the ground running with “On And On (In your Mind),” the whole band coming in with a grandiose opening racket before giving way to a huge riff with fantastic, sweet, fuzzy tone. Guitar harmonies gallop along, interrupted on occasion by the aforementioned Riff, and Janiak’s whisky-soaked vocals are a perfect match for the tune. Good stuff, and it doesn’t end there. “Don’t Give Away The World” opens with a menacing riff, and the rhythm rolls through the song with a great behind-the-beat desert jam feel.
The album ends with a bang, starting with the slithering rocker “Kerfuffle,” which leads into the Mötörhead tribute song “Your Inner Lemmy,” a scorcher that channels the Metal God to perfection. “Fuck your gods, fuck devils too, fuck your church, and then fuck you! I did it all, whatever I did, I can’t remember but I’ll never forget,” Janiuk rasps as the band propels headlong down the Mötörhead highway. The crowning glory of the album is the closer, though, “The Demons Come Home To Roost.” Nearly eight minutes long, it leads with a thick, fuzzed-up riff before kicking into an explosive double-time, take-no-prisoners gallop. Three minutes in, after the obligatory wah-wah solo (the last song on every album should include a wah-wah solo), the band breaks down into a slow, heavy, Sabbath-esque twist before kicking back into overdrive for the last minute and a half. Truly a killer track.
Why didn’t I mention the middle of the album? Because things are a little tenuous there. Weaker songs take up residence and make us yearn for the beginning and the end. Aside from the stoneresque “The Meaning Of Life,” the middle of A Bend Through Space And Time won’t beg for a lot of replay time. The songs simply aren’t as strong as those bracketing them, But regardless of the quality of songwriting (overall really good, with the aforementioned missteps), production on A Bend Through Space And Time is stellar. Guitars are crunchy and fuzzy all at once, Janiak’s vocals sit perfectly in the mix and the rhythm section thunders mightily. All this is aided by a decent mastering job: the DR 9 rating is audible and clearly helps the material.
When the songs on A Bend Through Space And Time are on, they’re really on. Vocally and instrumentally, the guys in Devil To Pay know how to cook with oil. The production is outstanding and the dynamic range makes this a pleasure to listen to. A few weak, unfulfilling tracks disrupt the flow and bring the album back down to reality, but Devil To Pay have put out a quality release with some great desert-influenced metal. Definitely worth checking out.