Kill Devil Hill – Seas of Oblivion (Album Review)

There have been many offshoot branches featuring members of the Pantera family tree which include Damageplan (featuring Dimebag Darrell and Vinny Pau), Down (with Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown), and of course, Kill Devil Hill (also including Rex Brown). Initially put together back in 2011, the band was formed by Brown, superstar Drummer Vinny Appice, Guitarist Mark Zavon, and Lead Vocalist Dewey Bragg. An all-star cast of musicians, they relatively quickly pumped out two solid albums; their self-titled in 2012 and Revolution Rise in 2013.

A quick flash of excitement for a promising act, by 2014 the lineup began to morph with Type O Negative’s Johnny Kelly replacing Appice and plans for some new material. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, those plans never materialized… and that is a bit of a shame. You see, the first two Kill Devil Hill records were really quite engaging brands of Metal that were moody, yet rough when it needed to be. Now a decade later, Kill Devil Hill return with their long overdue third record Seas of Oblivion.

A surprising return, the band announced in early 2023 they had signed on with Legend Recordings, and on September 20th the new material emerged. Consisting of thirteen brand new tracks, plus a cover Black Sabbath’s, Kill Devil Hill prove that the long gap in between studio material has not left them rusty. That said, it is important to mention that this lineup is a bit different than some might remember from a decade earlier. This lineup features the foundation of Zavon, Bragg, and Kelly, matched with former Five Finger Death Punch Bassist Matt Snell. A very solid mix of players who come from different walks of Metal, the album they have created is a delightful mix of dark, atmospheric sounds that remind you of something conjured up during the ‘90s era… and that is a good thing!

What does this mean? It means the production quality is top notch, the song compositions are well thought out, and the eerie tone of the music is reminiscent of Alice in Chains, or a little later on down the line, lesser known and underappreciated acts like Dust for Life or U.P.O.. Perhaps an odd comparison to the average listener, if you know these mentioned acts, then you will get it. Furthermore, if you are keen on the best of what the Grunge or Post-Grunge era had to offer, and mixed it up with a twist of Heavy Metal, then you have what Kill Devil Hill offers on Seas of Oblivion.

The grooves are heavy, the grit is real, and the vocals are haunting. These attributes are perfectly executed throughout the album, but some great examples include the riff heavy “Blood in the Water,” slower drudge of “Playing with Fire,” and dream-like feel of “Pharmaceutical Sunshine.” All killer cuts, there are also other major stands that include “The Bitter End,” “Seize the Day,” as well as “From the Ashes” which provoke you to think about life, what really matters, how to make the most of what is in front of you.

All in all, Seas of Oblivion harks back to the days when heavier Rock-n-Roll enticed you to engulf yourself within an entire record. Sorrowful and quite deep, while there is darkness, you cannot help but feel it also offers a cathartic release in your darkest hour. An unexpected release and well worth the time, Cryptic Rock gives Seas of Oblivion 4.5 out of 5 stars.  

Kill Devil Hill – Seas of Oblivion / Legend Recordings (2023)

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