October 22, 2018 Devour the Day – Signals (Album Review)
Tennessee rockers Devour the Day have come a long way since their time in Egypt Central. When the band officially broke up in 2012, Bassist Joey “Chicago” Walser and then-drummer-now vocalist Blake Allison refused to go out without a fight. So, the two men set out to embark on a new journey. Now, the determined duo alongside Drummer Ronnie Farris have released the band’s third full-length album and their first for Fearless Records, Signals.
Set for release on Friday, October 26, 2018, the guys are back in the fray with a new sound and new level aggression never seen before, but after the breakout success of their 2012 debut album Time & Pressure and its follow-up, 2016’s S.O.A.R, will Signals measure up to its predecessors?
Kick-starting this new adventure is “One Shot” which opens with the sound of a barking dog before jumping into a high energy, bounding roller-coaster of sounds and effects. The song closes with Allison screaming ferociously and breathing heavily, like some cathartic, primal howl into the abyss. As the song winds downs, before the music ends, it comes across as an intense, if not excessive, way to end things. Then, as the music drops and we’re left with the screaming and the breathing, it feels even more excessive. The intention is understood, but the question is was it necessary?
“Faithless” is a bit better at understanding its realm of existence and levels of intensity with beautiful instrumentation in the chorus. It is tempered and well-metered with fluctuations and emphasis in the appropriate moments for best effect. The timing and transition here is beautifully done and pleasant to the ear while still being influential in its message of owning your individuality and avoiding herd mentality.
“Into the Night” is a nice break from the level of intensity that’s been visited in the earlier tracks. This ballad slows things down just enough for the listener to catch their breath and gives a new perspective on what Devour The Day is capable of delivering. The grit on Allison’s voice makes for entertaining contrast to the gentler pacing of this song and the softer touch applied across the track, including the drums. The chorus has an inspiring, evanescent quality to it that differentiates the emotional impact of this song from its contemporaries.
Halfway through Signals there’s “The Censor,” which the band released as a the first single off this album. It is dirty and visceral. Allison pulls no punches here lyrically and vocally with a performance that is scathing and incendiary. This is one of the places where the extra audible strain in his voice works to drive home the intent and impact of the song without feeling overdone or excessive. This is an anthem championing taking control of your life and owning your voice, so it stands to reason that Allison would sacrifice his own to make his point.
Nearing the end of the album there’s “Loudmouth” and its layered speaking that opens with layered sound bites of Allison saying “I always got something to say.” From there, the song pounces relentlessly into a vicious lyrical assault that is backed by a chugging guitar riff and dirty bassline and percussion. Next up is “Faithless” which has an anthemic quality to it with a soaring chorus. It transitions well from verse to chorus to second verse with minimal “Nothing is Enough” screeches open and rolls into a charging forward driven beat that takes over. Allison’s gritty vocals grind against the track like gravel on a dirt road and adding an interesting, contrasting layer to the track.
“Wonderful Creatures” begins with a mildly sinister chugging riff and bursts open into that anthemic expanse that is uplifting and sweeping at the same time. The echoic effect on Allison’s vocals gives the song an ethereal feel, as though its disconnected from this plane and alluding to a new level of being. “Under the Overpass” is a beautiful piece of orchestration and composition that is easily one of the best pieces on the entire album. There is a hint of something Smashing Pumpkins-esqe about the way it waves and warbles, but it’s also entirely unique. This gorgeous instrumental track plays out the end of the album perfectly and sends the listener out on a high, melodious note.
While the band’s attempt at leveling with their audience and interpreting their own “signals” to make this album, it feels as though it is more of a collage than a cohesive composition of work. This is not to say that they have failed or that this album was all for naught, but something feels unfinished or incomplete with this record. It may be the story that they are trying to tell to which there may be more to come, or it may be that something is not translating entirely as they desired, but in either case it feels like there is more to unpack here.
All that in mind, there are several redeeming moments on the album that do not fall victim to this sense of shortness, but they are not quite enough to make the difference. So, for good faith and moments of compelling instrumentation and orchestration, CrypticRock gives Signals 3 out of 5 stars.