Hamburg’s Devil’s Train is a band of “metallers” put together to celebrate classic rock, played heavier and harder to give it contemporary relevance. We have a power metaller, RD Liapakis, Mystic Prophesy frontman; Symphonic metaller Jorg Michael, ex Stratovarius drummer extraordinaire; new boy metaller, Laki Ragazas and prog metaller, Jari Kainulanen, ex of Evergrey.
Best way to get on this band’s wavelength is to watch the online promo video of the band’s cover of the Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’. It’s full of Harleys, Buds and semi naked women. Who said the Germans don’t do irony? The video is a beautifully over the top parody of eighties’ MTV and its daily diet of macho metal posturing. It will all be just too generic for some – many will look through the band’s earnest performance and see only a classic rock cliché suspended in last century’s aspic.
Yet the real joy of this album is the fact they take the music so seriously, raining down grinding, churning, thick cut riffs on us, married to muscular melodies, shouty choruses and a sprinkling of aurally adhesive hooks. Liapakis’s Coverdale vocal mannerisms may be a little too much for some, but they suit the bluesy groove of tracks like ‘Forever’ and ‘To The Ground’ down to the…er, ground.
It’s the fact that this band handle the machinery of genre so well that impresses most, running up and down through the hard rock gears slickly and smoothly on the roaring, speeding ‘Room 66/64’ and the growling, purring ‘Answers’. Naturally, the influence of previous day jobs creeps in here and there . . . ‘Sweet Devils Kiss’ is driven by a well defined power metal riff and ‘Coming Home’ embraces a neo prog complexity not heard on any other track here.
The picks just might be ‘Fire And Water’ and ‘Roll The Dice’. Vastly overused song titles perhaps, but these two tracks particularly contain enough style and passion to echo the originality of the blues, at the same time imbuing the songs with the excitement of contemporary rock.
Without labouring the point further, Devil’s Train’s music might well be modelled on an eighties’ hard rock template, but just because they’re joining the dots doesn’t mean they aren’t creating a pretty picture.
Raring 7 out of 10