One of the most unique outfits in the current crop of northwest rockers has easily got to be Devil Hunt Me Down. You won’t find a lot of rock & roll cliches in their music, in fact you’d be hard pressed to find any at all. Their music has been described as Sasquatch Rock or Dirt Metal but one thing for sure, Devils Hunt Me Down has a sound that is pretty tough to nail down and even harder to pin a label on. One minute they sound almost southern with a jam-band quality and by the next measure they are in a full on progressive meltdown. One thing that isn’t hard to nail down though is the propensity of the band to make kick-ass, straight-forward rock ‘n roll in their own unique way, no matter what box people want to put them in.
The band ambitiously set its sites on releasing a trilogy called In Media Res over the course of 2017. With the first two being released earlier this year, In Medias Res III triumphantly completes the journey for the band. In case you aren’t super familiar with the band or their previous work you can check out our previous reviews of In Medias Res II and In Medias Res I and by the way, you’ll notice that two came out before one, I’m not really sure why except there’s probably a hidden meaning in the 2-1-3 sequence.
Here’s some of what we said about the first of the three:
In Medias Res II, released in May of this year delivers four songs that most definitely cements them near the top of Seattle’s current crop of heavy rockers. Any conversation about the “best” active rock bands in Seattle that doesn’t include Devils Hunt Me Down is incomplete. The EP starts out with the jam-heavy rocker “Caveman in a Computer Room, ” and sets the tone for the following three tunes with uptempo guitar and driving bass. The powerful, growling vocals of Matthew Bentley are perfect for these songs. The final song “Rusty Nail” allows the band to display that they are not to be taken lightly, it’s all over the map musically and while the whole band is in the pocket throughout, the meandering bass line from Ian Sides is what sets the hook on that tune.
And here’s us talking about number two in the series:
The best way to describe the second song “Santa Maria” would be if a van full of Seattle rockers found themselves in a hazy New Orleans bar and someone asked them if they want to sit in with the horn section. The result is a peculiar blend of brass on a collision course with fuzzed out guitars but works tremendously well. It’s not hard to see how this could go terrible wrong left to amateurs but Devils Hunt Me Down pulled it off brilliantly with the help of the trump-playing visionary LipServus by Sunshine.
On In Medias Res III they waste no time at all in developing a deep groove and setting the tone with “The Border Line,” with the guitars out in front and leading the way. The band almost effortlessly discovers a deep pocket and stays in there for most of the song with Matt Bentley’s trademark growl perfectly mixed. Just like on the previous EPs, Jack Endino manages to capture every little detail in these songs. I noted on In Medias Res I the incredible little nuances that probably only come with working with someone like Endino, such as turning down the bass and turning up the guitar in certain parts and vice-versa. Not that no one else does things like this but the way someone like Jack does these things, leaves them barely noticeable without multiple spins.
The second song starts with a delicious guitar riff and while the trademark filthy groove of the band is certainly there, the vocals are what sells this track. “The Owl” is about frontman Matt Bentley’s sister who tragically passed away from a drug overdose in 2006. Although more than a decade has passed, it isn’t hard to feel the raw emotion that he put into the vocals on this track. When he sings the line “I thought that you would be…fine” you can feel the pain in his voice as he struggles to get the line out, as if his soul is crying. Towards the end of the song Bentley wails “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” This is an eerie double entendre as it relates to both the cry of the The Barred Owl and the preparation of heroin, or “cooking” as it is commonly called. As I went to bed after listening to this EP several times and starting the review a few nights ago, a Barred Owl was right outside my window asking “who cooks for you?” Not even kidding. Bentley shared that the song is not only a commemoration of his late sibling and her close connection to owls but also an exploration of his thoughts and feelings regarding how her passing has impacted him since.
The band smeared a voodoo vibe all over “How Dare You?” with Ian Sides’ funky bass runs featured prominently in the mix and if this isn’t Swampy Sasquatch Rock, I don’t know the meaning of the phrase. The infectious groove will drag you in as the rest of the band stops and starts and invents their own time signatures. “Sky Island” is probably the most straight ahead rock song on all three EPs. It finds the band letting loose with drummer Callum Dickson setting the pace and daring the other three to keep up. which they do of course.
Not that this is breaking news or anything but the northwest is bursting at the seams with massively talented rock bands but any conversation about who is the best out there right now that doesn’t mention the name Devils Hunt Me Down is incomplete.
We are also premiering “How Dare You?” right now. Check it out below or click HERE.